Where Do We Get Our Vitamins From?
By Don Bennett, DAS
Many health enthusiasts know that
the minerals we need in our diet come from the fruits and vegetables
we eat, and ultimately from the soil... or at least they are supposed
to come from the soil; if it's agri-based industry soil, its
mineral content is often insufficient to meet our body's needs
for optimal health. But where do the vitamins that we need
come from? Certain ones, like D and B12 are not considered "food-provided
nutrients" (and technically those two are not really "vitamins"
but we call them that for convenience), D
being meant to come from strong enough sunshine, and B12
from our body's manufacturing of it. But what about the food-provided
vitamins? Where do they come from?
Let's take a survey...
vitamins ultimately come from?
A) The soil
B) A plant's
C) The plant
If you assumed that vitamins come
from the same place as minerals, and answered 'A', the soil, it
would be a reasonable guess, but it would be incorrect. Same for
'B'. The vitamins that we need are made by the plant. But what
does the plant use to make those vitamins?
dioxide from the air
from the soil
E) All of
If you answered 'E', you're correct.
The plant requires various minerals from the soil to make the
various vitamins the plant is supposed to provide. I say "is
supposed to provide" because, as you might have already guessed,
if the soil is low in minerals, the plant will be low in vitamins.
And many agri-based soils are low in minerals... even the soils
that are home to trees with deep roots.
If you're feeling a bit queasy at
this revelation, take heart; all is not lost. You can still get
enough of all the minerals and vitamins your body needs for optimal
health; you just have to shed certain preconceived notions based
on misinformation that is abundant in the health improvement community.
How Do We Know Soils are Inadequate
to Provide for Optimal Health?
As you might imagine, I get a lot
of pushback, and even some bashing from folks who are under the
impression that we don't have to be concerned about nutrition
if we're eating a raw vegan diet that contain lots of fruits and
greens. And why do they believe this? Well, when a popular raw
food educator says, "Once you start eating enough fruits
and vegetables you don't have to worry about nutrition"
many people feel that they can take that to the bank... that they
can rely on this information as if it were the Gospel truth. But
reality has a funny way of having the final say. Realizing this,
I make dang sure to think outside-the-box when researching even
the outside-the-box health related issues, and as any proper researcher
should, I employ the ethos of science in my investigations: open
questioning, no authorities, no biases or personal preferences,
honesty, transparency, and reliance on evidence. And when you
do this, you discover that some of the things that are being taught
have no basis in reality, and are often assumptions that were
made when there was no way to know otherwise. But raw food diets
have been around long enough now to provide empirical evidence
that challenges some closely held beliefs. And it is a wise person
who keeps an open mind instead of blindly following and parroting
the popularly accepted notions.
I should mention another meme that
is floating around; this one courtesy of a raw food educator whom
I firmly believe is running a "profits-before-people"
business. And even though that's the business model of 99% of
businesses in general, when you promote yourself as a health educator,
you're dealing with people's most valuable commodity: their health.
So if you spout advice that benefits your business first-and-foremost,
and in so doing, you profit at the expense of people's future
health, in my opinion you're no better than the meat, dairy, and
pharmaceutical industries. But I digress.
See if you can recognize the flaw
in this raw vegan health educator's statement:
"The simple fact is that an optimal
diet can indeed provide every species with everything that it
needs, including humans. ... Like every
other species on the planet, humans can get their nutritional
needs met by simply eating an optimal diet. ...
We can easily meet the body's needs for every nutrient by simply
consuming whole foods... just like every
Unlike most every other species on
Earth today, humans are no longer living in their biological "eco-niche"
and are no longer eating the quality of food they once did, even
when eating the foods of their biological adaptation. For the
body to function optimally it requires enough of all the nutrients
it needs to achieve this most worthy goal. And just because someone
is eating a diet of the foods they are biologically adapted to,
this is not a guarantee that they will get enough of all the nutrients
their body requires for optimal health, even if they are active
enough to warrant eating an appropriate volume of food.
With certain exceptions, humans are
the only animal species that is no longer getting their food from
where we were designed to get our food from, and this little factoid
can account for nutrient insufficiencies that can become deficiencies
over time. And when you combine this fact with any increased nutritional
needs because of environmental burdens on the body, this explains
very nicely why many of us need nutritional complements to our
diet if we want optimal health. So even though the above educator's
rhetoric sounds like it makes sense, it is not borne out by the
empirical evidence. Again, it's a lovely notion, and I'd love
to believe it, but I can't because it doesn't square with reality...
which is where my body lives.
To obtain and maintain optimal health,
we need to face facts, and soil mineral depletion is not a hypothesis,
it's a fact. Not surprisingly it isn't one we hear a lot about
on the evening news, but you'd think those in the health improvement
community would hear about it in almost every lecture and book
on the subject, being that we're trying to improve our health
and/or be as healthy as our genetics will allow. But since our
bodies have no "low selenium warning light" and lights
for all the other essential nutrients, we often gauge our nutritional
sufficiency by how we feel, or by how we've improved, or by what
Cron-O-Meter says we're getting. But these are not reliable metrics
to judge if we indeed have whole body tissue sufficiency
of a particular nutrient or nutrients in general.
So it's not a stretch of the imagination
to think that if the foods we're buying that come from the agri-based
food industry who grow for yield, appearance, size, profit,
pest-resistance, shelf-life, growth-rate, and sugar-content, but
not for nutritional content are foods that are not as minerally
sufficient as they should be, it would make sense that they would
also not be as packed with vitamins as the nutritional charts
would have us believe, since sufficient minerals are required
by the plant to manufacture sufficient amounts of vitamins.
For example, if the soil is minerally
deficient in zinc, the plant can have less than normal amounts
of vitamin C. And since we're meant to eat our foods directly
from the tree/bush/vine or soon after the food has fallen, and
not after days of transport and weeks or months of storage, and
since the food's uptake of nutrients obviously stops when it is
disconnected from the tree/bush/vine, and since most of the fruits
and veggies we eat are harvested early so they can make it to
your kitchen counter before rotting, and since the plant only
starts making some nutrients when it starts to ripen so it never
gets to make all that it can when picked early, you can begin
to see why the foods you're eating that comprise the healthiest
diet may not be the healthiest versions of those foods, and may
not provide us modern humans, living in our modern stress-filled,
toxin-filled environment with enough of all the nutrients our
bodies require for optimal future health.
Those two health educators above,
who, in my opinion, have no respect for rational and honest discussion,
no desire to peer-to-peer, no ability to change their position
when the evidence merits it, no problem with distortion and misrepresentation,
and an inability to apply a skeptical interrogation of accepted
notions for the benefit of those they teach and counsel, if what
those two health educators said were true, then why do some of
those people who've been diligently eating the diet that humans
are best suited to eat, and doing it "by the book",
develop health issues over time (not related to D or B12 or a
lack of fasting). And why do these same individuals improve their
health when they add some worthwhile nutritional adjuncts to their
diet; ones made from foods that have been grown in rich
Bottom line: If you want enough
of all the vitamins your body requires, your food must be grown
in soil that has enough minerals. And most fruits and greens aren't.
So while raw vegans will fare far better than those eating the
Typical Western Diet, if you want to thrive and not merely survive
better than the gen pop, if you accept that you're not living
where you evolved to live, and that Supply & Demand
factors affect your nutritional needs, and you apply the ethos
of science to your thinking, you will have a good shot at living
to your health and longevity potentials.
Bennett is an insightful, reality-based author, and health creation
counselor who uses the tools in his toolbox logic, common
sense, critical thinking, and independent thought to figure
out how to live so you can be optimally healthy. More about Don's
books, which have more delicious food for thought, at health101.org/books
Need for Nutritional Supplementation
We Shouldn't Rely on Cron-O-Meter and
Fitday.com to Assess Our Nutrient Needs
Nutrition, Enough is NOT Enough
Healthy Do You Want to Be?