Why We Need To Supplement Nutrients Intake
Most of our health care providers including some M.Ds, nutritionists, dieticians, etc believe and/or would want us to believe that we can get adequate nutrients for optimum health through eating a balanced diet. My guess is such beliefs are based on assumptions derived from Dietary Reference Intake values, accepted as science-based by the biomedical community and policy makers. Of course DRI values are so low that it makes sense to believe that you can meet your nutrient requirement from food intake through eating a variety of foods (given, for example that one orange can provide approx. 65 mg which is within the DRI range for adults). The challenge is: can we achieve optimum health through getting our nutrients from food alone? I argues we don’t, because daily nutrients intake from food alone are ridiculously low (Hickey and Roberts, 2004), to achieve optimum health.
Nutrition is an essential component of our health and that of any living matter. The science of nutrition and health is complex, but human nutrition has been made even more complex as a result of over-zealousness with the idea of supremacy of human brainpower over that of other living organisms. Nutrition information, generated by humans,for human or captive animals, is therefore as messy as expected, which creates confusion as to how we can harness the benefits of optimum nutrition for optimum health.
Human activities have increased the complexity between food and health though a broad range of food production interventions, eg. crop genetic engineering, intensive crop production methods and other activities such as CO2 ecological pollution, associated with low nutrient content in harvested crops - a source of complex degenerative illnesses in humans Better Health Channel (n.d.), Porterfield (2015) and The Institute of Functional Medicine (n.d.). The complexity in nutritional science helps us understand why to date there are no “Gold Standard” in food or nutrient intake assessment methods and any claims that any particular protocol yields reliable, accurate measurements (and that includes DRI values), is far from the truth.
Below I present scenarios of a display of suggested nutrient intake for selected nutrients in nutritional supplements visa viz that in certain foods. This is meant to drive home the point that, what we hear from most of our health care providers, that we can get adequate nutrients from a balanced diet, is far from the truth. If we take a closer look at one example from table 1 below, for an optimum intake of vitamin C, it requires just a pin-head size of 1000 mg of vitamin C from supplements, whereas from food, it requires an equivalent of 12 to 15 medium size oranges per day to get 1000 mg of Vitamin C from food. Interestingly. If we consider DRIs for Vitamin C as shown in table 2, it requires that you eat only 1 - 2 oranges to meet the vitamin C daily needs of approximately 75 mg for adults. It is therefore reasonable to understand why most of our health care providers believe that we can get adequate nutrients for optimum health from food alone (a balanced diet). Of course such beliefs are misguided.
Table 1. Supplements vs Food - A Visual Guide (Infographic)
Adapted from: Business 2 Community (Supplements Vs Food - A Visual Guide [Infographic] - Business 2 Community)
Table 2. Supplements vs Food vs Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
Supplements vs Food Infographic
Range of Dietary Reference Intakes
(Based on age, gender & physiological status)
Amount (#) required to achieve maximum daily dose
Amount (#) required to achieve maximum daily dose
1 x 1000mcg Tablets
79 Fillets of Salmon
0.4 - 2.8 μg/d (mcg/d)
1 x 1000mg Tablets
40 - 120 mg/d
1 x 25mcg Tablets
10 - 20 mcg/d (1mcg = 40 IU)
1 x 671mg Capsule
559 Kiwi fruit
4 - 19 mg /d
1. Business 2 Community (Supplements Vs Food - A Visual Guide
[Infographic] - Business 2 Community)
2. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Estimated Average Requirements
In the modern day food environment, it is practically impossible to get optimum nutrients for optimum health from food alone. This explains why the modern day human is unable to realize the full potential of optimum nutrient intake for optimum health, as manifested by persistent and ever rising diet-related chronic diseases and nutritional deficiency immunocompromized health problems. Nutrient intake especially of micronutrients at DRIs levels leads to hidden hunger related health problems and to prevent this from happening and promote optimum health, we need supplements
1. Better Health Channel (n.d.). Food processing and nutrition. Retrieved (2021) from: Food processing and nutrition - Better Health Channel
2. Hickey, S and Roberts, H (2004). Ridiculous Dietary Allowance. An open challenge to the RDA for vitamin C. Available online at: Microsoft Word - OnlineMasterRDA2.doc (dougcookrd.com)
3. Porterfield , A (2015). Are GMOs to blame for the loss of nutrients in our fruits and vegetables? Retrieved (2021) from: Are GMOs to blame for the loss of nutrients in our fruits and vegetables? | Genetic Literacy Project
The Institute of Functional Medicine (n.d.). Food Crops: Nutrient Fluctuations and Malnutrition. News - Insights. Retrieved (January 2021) from: Food Crops: Nutrient Fluctuations and Malnutrition | The Institute for Functional Medicine (ifm.org)