For years, we've been taught that healthy eating includes a diet full of fruits and vegetables, and more recently that a plant-based diet can deliver the nutrients we need for optimal health. For decades, we have also focused almost exclusively on one class of nutrients: vitamins. How many times have you been told to eat your vegetables for their vitamins? Or to take a "multivitamin" for extra insurance that you are getting the nutrients your body needs? Well, to be blunt, optimal health goes beyond vitamins.
For every vitamin that plays a vital role in our health, there is at least one mineral that the body requires for optimal health; and this presents a bigger than bite-sized problem with our current food supply. Today many of us, despite consuming healthy foods and beverages, are likely missing out on adequate daily mineral intake. And the absence of adequate minerals correlates directly with increased health risks—everything from suboptimal digestion, poor bone formation and impaired immune function, to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancers.
But if we eat healthily, how can we miss our daily dose of minerals? Here are a few of the reasons:
- Food processing reduces mineral content: Processing of grains to flours, fruits to fruit juices, and vegetables to juices or soups reduces the amount of minerals and even eliminates some entirely. Take a shaft of wheat and turn it into white flour; gone is roughly 80 percent of that wheat's natural magnesium quantity.
- Overworked/ poorly worked land: Different farming methods can either enhance or diminish the nutrient density of the land. Conventional farming methods now in use for decades have depleted many of the minerals in our soil, which means less nutrient-dense food is grown.
So where does this leave you, the healthy eater who seeks optimal health and recognizes the link between what you consume and how your body performs? Today we must make a concerted effort to achieve sufficient mineral intake every day; for those with the aforementioned diseases and complaints, mineral repletion may even be in order (best to work with your healthcare practitioner to identify your personal needs here).
To increase mineral intake, I advise consumption of organic foods, since organic farming methods help the soil retain its mineral content. I recommend as well a daily mineral supplement—one that also comes from organic plant sources, with the acids that make the minerals as bioavailable as possible. I'm thrilled by the launch of Natural Vitality's Plant Minerals and have recommended them to clients and take them myself. The organic green-apple-flavored liquid supplement is quite palatable and easily absorbed by the body.