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...

Where do vitamins ultimately come from?

A) The soil

B) A plant's seed

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?

A) Carbon dioxide from the air

B) Sunlight

C) H2O

D) Minerals from the soil

E) All of the above

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 other species."

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 soil?

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.


Don 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


Related articles:

The Need for Nutritional Supplementation

Why We Shouldn't Rely on Cron-O-Meter and
Fitday.com to Assess Our Nutrient Needs

With Nutrition, Enough is NOT Enough

How Healthy Do You Want to Be?