10 Reasons Why You Need to Supplement

I’m always amused when a health conscious person tells me that they don’t take ANY supplements because they’d rather get it from whole food. If you live next to a small, non-industrial organic farm, have access to a flock of free roaming chickens, butcher your own meat, meditate daily to drive away stress and filter your water, then yes, maybe you don’t need to supplement. But the sad truth is that our modern food supply is severely deficient in nutrients, mainly minerals.

I go from amused to outright concerned when someone with an autoimmune condition or using hormonal birth control or under severe stress or dealing with hormone imbalances tells me that they “take nothing”.

Life is different than it was 100 years ago. Your grandma didn’t have to supplement because she lived before the advent of food processing, monocropping and food being shipped long distances.

10 Reasons to Supplement

1. Our soil is depleted.

This is the #1 reason almost everyone needs some form of supplementation today.  Many soils are low in essential minerals. No matter whether you’re a whole food vegetarian or paleo adherent, you cannot obtain all the nutrients you need from food alone.

2. You drink a daily cup of joe…or 2…or 3.

I’m not here to tell you to give up coffee. But too much coffee has been shown to make us excrete B vitamins in the urine, and a lot of us have pretty heavy coffee habits. 

3. Common crops are deficient in certain nutrients.

Soils, even at organic farms, become depleted of vitamins and minerals after years of cultivation and monocropping. Depleted soils = depleted food = depleted you.

4. Today’s fertilization methods do not supply enough trace minerals.

One hundred years ago, manure was used for fertilizer. Today, we use chemical fertilizers that contain mainly nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, but are deficient in the trace elements found in manure. This has contributed greatly to the mineral depletion of the soil and crops. Yes, organically grown food is more nutrient-rich because it is grown on better quality soil with proper farming methods, but this is not always the case, and it’s not always perfect.

5. Pesticides are like broad spectrum antiobiotics that kill everything.

Yes, everything, even the good things such as soil microorganisms that are needed to make nutrition available to plants. The result is that your carrots have lower nutrient content.

6. Long-distance transportation.

A lot of nutritional value is lost in the time it takes for your oranges to get from Florida to New York.

7. Food processing reduces nutrient content.

Not only does processing of grains remove some of the B vitamins from the food itself, it will actually pull B vitamins from your body’s reserves in order for it to be digested. The same can be said for other commonly processed foods. 

8. Poor digestion.

As we age, stomach acid declines. Strong stomach acid is needed to absorb nutrients from our food. Poor digestion impairs nutrient absorption and increases nutritional needs which can’t be supplied in entirety by mineral depleted food. It’s a vicious cycle that continues as long as one eats a poor quality diet and doesn’t supplement.

9. You have ongoing stress.

Chronic stress causes our body to dump essential minerals, especially magnesium.

10. You regulary use antacids

Or you take prescription stregnth acid blockers. These deplete calcium and deplete your stomach acid, which is crucial for nutrient absoprtion.

So, What Supplements Should I Take?

The answer is, everyone’s supplement needs will be different. Ideally, you will base your need for supplements after intracellular nutrient testing (such as a SpectraCell test). One recommendation I will make is magnesium. Almost everyone can benefit from a little supplemental magnesium (see reason 9 above). I like to take my magnesium with dinner in order to start my wind-down, relaxtion routine in preparation for bedtime. I like the magnesium glycinate form of magnesium. For the “pill averse”, you can rub magnesium oil from into the skin and derive great benefit from this in lieu of taking it orally.

About the Author: Maria is a certified health coach, DUTCH hormone test expert and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner whose focus is helping women in their changing and challenging years (the 40’s and 50s) find their way back to fitness, fun and hormone balance. You can connect with her on Instagram and download her Hormone Testing Guide cheatsheet right here.

Fresh Produce image licensed under the Creative Commons.


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Maria Claps

Maria Claps is a certified health coach, mother of 4 grown children, and women’s healthy aging advocate. After receiving sub-standard care in NYC, Maria enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in pursuit of a solution for her perimenopausal symptoms that began when she turned 40. Inspired by her training at IIN, Maria pursued […]