The Supplement Debate

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Over the course of the last few days, most of us will have experienced first-hand the transition from an unseasonably mild Autumn to a much colder version, which serves to remind us of the close proximity of winter. This is typically a time when we are subjected to the doom and gloom brigade about the bugs and infections which are waiting in the wings to leap and slip through any chink in our armour and attempt to wreck our chances of a smooth journey through the course of the next few months.

It was with this in mind that we both tuned in to a recent episode of ‘Horizon’ on the BBC entitled “Vitamin Pills : Miracle or Myth?”. We were interested to see the researcher’s take on the efficacy (or not) of the supplement industry to aid in boosting our immune system in readiness for any attack.  Unfortunately, the programme turned out to be rather superficial and it probably left many viewers with more questions than answers. 

We have our own ideas and we share the view that we derive the best nutrition from food. Not only do the nutrients in food work synergistically, each supporting one another, but additionally, we still don’t really know the full extent of what natural foods can offer us; man-made versions of nutrients simply cannot cover the balance and diversity found in nature, and it is natural foods that we have evolved to fully utilise throughout our time on this earth.

But there are also ‘man-made’ challenges which may indeed require some of these ‘man-made’ solutions. Many of these challenges are, historically speaking, very recent and include

  • soil erosion through intensive farming practices meaning our plants grow in comparatively nutrient poor soil,
  • a bombardment of new chemicals and other invisible stressors in our homes, in the air we breathe, in our water and in our food,
  • the pressures and stress of life today.

In short, our bodies are subject to onslaughts which are very different from the manual labour challenges of previous eras and our food is not always fully able to meet the demands of the way we live. We do therefore believe that food supplements have their place; deficiencies are likely due to any combination of the above, but nutrient deficiencies are measured according to the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) which is the minimum required to prevent disease, such as the vitamin C deficiency disease, scurvy, meaning their role is to avert disorders rather than support optimum health. If we seek optimum health (and why wouldn’t we?) then supplementation at certain times may well be relevant, but it can never outperform real, natural food; in fact, supplements have a better chance of making a noticeable difference if there is a good dietary basis assisting their assimilation and effectiveness. For us, food comes first every time, but we wouldn’t be averse to assistance when it is needed.

With this in mind, we want to inspire anyone wishing to be inspired to enhance that ‘good dietary basis’ and hopefully get excited about learning new ideas to make it happen. We think the best way to do this is by sharing ideas over lunch and for this reason, the next class on our calendar, entitled Winter Warmers is all about suggestions for making a high raw diet possible in the colder months.