Early in my career as a health care professional I didn’t believe taking vitamins was necessary. I reasoned we should be getting all our vitamins from the foods we eat and, if we eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, we are getting all we need. Unfortunately, while that may have been true 50 years ago, the foods available to us today are grown in depleted soil and then treated with chemicals that further deplete the nutrient value.

Standard farming methods today overuse the soil and neglect replenishing the soil to a proper mineral balance before planting again. The use of pesticides, early harvesting and irradiation further reduces the nutritional quality of the produce we receive at the market. At home, we kill a certain amount of vitamins, and especially the enzymes necessary for digestion, when we over-cook fresh produce.

Of course the most obvious hindrance to getting the nutrients the body needs is that most people eat too many processed, refined foods that have been stripped of their natural nutrients, then “enriched” with synthetic vitamins. In addition to this, our harried, stressed and toxin-laden lifestyle exhausts the body and damages cells, which increases our body’s needs for vitamins, minerals and other co-factors.

You may be wondering what your body does with vitamins and minerals and why they are necessary for good health. Vitamins and minerals are key elements our body needs to produce energy and new cells from the food we eat. It is quite a miraculous process. Without these essential catalysts our body will not be able to adequately repair itself by making new cells. We also will not have the energy our cells need to carry out all the processes of normal daily life. The result is illness and disease.

Now, how do you wade through the abundance of promotional information on supplements to choose which are best? Many of the vitamins available today in local supermarkets and drug stores are synthetic, meaning that they are chemically formulated in a laboratory, usually from inorganic, non-food materials. Synthetics are not alive and are not used by your body the same way vitamins from live foods are used. Synthetic supplements can cause serious imbalances in the body over the long term because the vitamins and minerals are not provided in the proportions and combinations your body requires and some nutrients are missing altogether. This has been substantiated by long-term research using synthetic vitamins.

When you eat live foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, you take in vitamins and minerals in their natural form and in the correct combination with enzymes and other co-factors so your body has what it needs to build cells and produce energy. For this reason, I recommend only whole food supplements.

Whole food supplements are made with the acknowledgement that we do not know everything that is in fruits, vegetables and animal tissues and cannot improve on what nature provides. They are made by taking whole, live foods and condensing them by removing the fiber and water, while keeping the nutritional balance and integrity. The best whole food supplements are processed in a way that does not kill the live enzymes needed for digestion or damage the vitamins with the use of excessive heat.

There are many good whole food supplement products out today. I recommend researching companies that manufacture supplements to find out their commitment to quality. If you find a company who grows their own food organically, all the better. I use Standard Process supplements because I believe they are the best. The way I see it, the foods and nutrients you consume are becoming your very cells and providing the energy you use to go about your life. What could be more important?

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