Foods, in a perfect world, provide all the nutrients we need, if we eat a balanced diet. Unfortunately, there are several factors that work against this philosophy. Factory farming over the years has depleted our soils, and the crops grown in these soils are much less nutritionally dense than they once were. Our factory farmed livestock are fed these plants (or worse), and the quality of meat has suffered. Add to this our rushed schedules, eating on the run, and fewer home-cooked meals, and even if the food were nutrient-dense, we lack the variety and wholesomeness that our diets once had. We can’t depend on food alone, anymore, to provide us with the full spectrum of nutrients we need to achieve optimal health.
Supplementation alone isn’t the answer, either. Regulation of nutritional supplements doesn’t necessarily guarantee optimal nutrients. There is definitely a spectrum of purity and potency in the vitamin/mineral supplement offerings. And without blood tests and labs and consulting with knowledgeable health practitioners (hard to find in traditional medicine, and who tend to not take health insurance), how is the average consumer to know what to take and what is best for them? The average consumer may instead let price be their guide to choosing vitamins and minerals.
I believe the answer is in the middle. We should eat the most nutrient-dense food we can find: organic, non-GMO, sustainably farmed, humanely-raised, etc., while taking the highest-quality supplements that we personally need based on consulting with an experienced health practitioner and related lab results. Doing so will bring us closest to the optimal health we aspire to. This is not the popular answer, nor is it the cheapest. But I believe it’s the best for where we’re at in the world of nutrition today.
PS-- Check out my 5-Day Clean Eating Guide to get started on your journey toward optimal nutrition.