Posted by IdealVitamins Blog Writer

TODAYS diets are depleted of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients due to the decreasing quality of our food supply and busy lifestyles. Combining a healthy diet and dietary supplements is the best approach to achieve optimal health.

TODAYS diets are depleted of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients due to the decreasing quality of our food supply and busy lifestyles. Combining a healthy diet and dietary supplements is the best approach to achieve optimal health.


Modern lifestyles typically involve juggling work, family and other activities. This leaves little time devoted to quality food choices and meals, leading instead to selections based on convenience. Theseoptions tend to be higher in fat, refined carbohydrates and sodium and usually involve extensive processing to enhance taste, which can destroy or remove nutrients. Furthermore, higher amounts of these types of foods are associated with marginal micronutrient intake and low serum concentrations of vitamin A, E, C, B12, folate andcarotenoids.1


Data from the National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicates that only 40% of Americans ate the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.3 The standard American diet is typically characterized by a high intake of:

Saturated Fat

Red Meat

Refined Grains


It is also generally low in essential fats, which are critical for healthy cardiovascular function, inflammatory balance and cognitive support.*4,5 Essential fats include:

Omega-3 fatty acids: fish,flaxseed and walnuts

Omega-6 fatty acids:vegetable oils, grains and seeds

Americans typically consume a diet that has a ratio of 10:1 omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Research indicates that an optimal ratio is closer to 3:1.







Consuming a balanced diet that meets the recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, essential fatty acids and lean sources of protein still may not ensure ample nutrient intake due to changes in our food supply. A recent comparison study evaluated potential changes in the average nutrient content of 43 fruits and vegetables between 1950 and 1999 and found the following results:

6% decrease in protein

16% decrease in calcium

9% decrease in phosphorus

15% decrease in iron

38% decrease in riboflavin

20% decrease in ascorbicacid

Food quality changes like these are the result of multiple factors:

Storage time and maturity at harvest

Nutrients can be harmed during storage or transportation. A 2004 study cited that storing tomatoes for 5 days decreased ascorbic acid by almost 13%.7 Harvesting plants prior to proper maturitydiminishes nutrient content potential, particularly for fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and polyphenols.8,9

Genetic selection

Modern fruits and vegetables are genetically selected, and in some cases modified, for shelf life, high yield or other growth characteristics rather than their ability to extract or synthesize nutrients from the environment.10

Atmospheric CO2

An increased level of CO2 in the atmosphere, due to pollution, decreases the nitrogen, potassium, magnesium and protein content of plants.11

Fertilization quality

Fertilization of the soil with isolated key nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as opposed to more comprehensive fertilizers, can alter the composition of plants and lead to nutrient losses. For example, plants raised on high-potassium soil have higher levels of potassium, but reduced levels of calcium and magnesium.10,12

Growing region

Differences in climate and soil type can cause large variations in nutrient content. Calcium-rich soil will produce plants higher in protein, while potassium-rich soils produce plants higher in carbohydrates. Regional rainfall can create wide variations in vegetable mineral composition, particularly for calcium, magnesium and potassium.12

Farming practices

Free-range animals produce meat with significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid.13 Dairy products made from grass-fed animals are also higher in vitamin A, E and betacarotene. 14 Feed-lot fed animals produce meat containing lower levels of these critical nutrients. Antibiotics fed to these animals can also result in altered probiotic profiles.15

Industrial waste and contamination

Chemical residues and industrial waste, including heavy metals, pollute the land, water and food supply.16  A 2004 analysis of 2,644 individuals found that most people in the U.S. carry a significant body burden of pesticides and pesticide metabolites, with the average person testing positive for 13 out of the 23 analyzed. Estrogenic compounds, such as DDT and its metabolites, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and p-nonyl-phenol and bisphenol-A, are of particular concern.17


Choose nutrient dense foods

Whole grains and brightly colored fruits and vegetables typically have high nutrient levels. Choosing lean, free-range sources of protein and fat, as well as organic foods is also important.

Preserve nutrients during cooking

Avoid overcooking food to optimize nutrient retention. Whether baking, grilling, or steaming, fruits and vegetables should still be colorful and slightly crisp when consumed.18

Buy fresh local foodsorganic when possible

Reducing the amount of time foods are in storage or transit helps to preserve the naturally occurring nutrients in foods. Less transit also means less CO2 generated in the atmosphere.

Take high quality nutritional supplements

Choose a high quality, hypo-allergenic nutritional supplement brand that is free of fillers, coatings, binders, allergens, artificial colors, preservatives, hydrogenated oils or other excipients. These undesirable ingredients can diminish the bioavailability or health-promoting potential of the nutrients. Unlike foods, supplements also have the benefit of providing consistent levels of vitamins and minerals.19 For specific health concerns, it is important to choose supplements that reflect active ingredients and dosage levels used in studies.

Askyour health professional for more information.


1. Kant AK. Consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods byadult

Americans: nutritional and health implications. The thirdNational Health and

Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Oct;72(4):929-36.

2. Blanck HM, Yaroch AL, Atienza AA, et al. Factors InfluencingLunchtime

Food Choices Among Working Americans. Health Educ Behav.2007 Jun 29.

3. Guenther PM, Dodd KW, Reedy J, Krebs-Smith SM. Most Americanseat

much less than recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. J Am Diet

Assoc. 2006 Sep;106(9):1371-9.

4. Bazzano LA, He J, Ogden LG, et al. Fruit and vegetable intakeand risk of

cardiovascular disease in US adults: the first National Healthand Nutrition

Examination Survey Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002


5. Zampelas A, Panagiotakos DB, Pitsavos C, et al. Fishconsumption among

healthy adults is associated with decreased levels ofinflammatory markers

related to cardiovascular disease: the ATTICA study. J Am Coll Cardiol.2005

Jul 5;46(1):120-4.

6. Davis DR, Epp MD, Riordan HD. Changes in USDA foodcomposition data for

43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Dec;23(6):669-82.

7. Molyneux SL, Lister CE, Savage GP. An investigation of theantioxidant

properties and colour of glasshouse grown tomatoes. Int J Food SciNutr.

2004 Nov;55(7):537-45.

8. Punna R, Rao Paruchuri U. Effect of maturity and processingon total,

insoluble and soluble dietary fiber contents of Indian greenleafy vegetables.

Int J Food SciNutr. 2004 Nov;55(7):561-7.

9. Marín A, Ferreres F, Tomás-Barberán FA, Gil MI.Characterization and

quantitation of antioxidant constituents of sweet pepper(Capsicum annuum

L.). J Agric Food Chem.2004 Jun16;52(12):3861-9.

10. Bear FE. Variations in vegetable mineral content. Soil ScienceSociety of

America Journal. Sept-Oct 1991. 55(5).

11. Taub DR, Miller B, Allen H. Effects of elevated CO2 on the protein concentration

of food crops: a meta-analysis. Glob Change Bio.14(3):565-75.

12. Albrecht, WA. Our Teeth and Our Soils. Annals ofDentistry. 1947.


13. Kraft J, Kramer JK, Schoene F, Chambers JR, Jahreis G.Extensive analysis

of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, CLA, trans-18:1isomers, and plasmalogenic

lipids in different retail beef types. J Agric Food Chem.2008 Jun


14. Searles, SK et al. Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and CaroteneContents of Alberta

Butter. Jour of Diary Sci.53(2) 150-154.

15. Price LB, Johnson E, Vailes R, Silbergeld E.Fluoroquinolone-Resistant

Campylobacter Isolates from Conventional and Antibiotic-Free Chicken

Products. Environ Health Perspect. May 2005. 113(5): 557-560.

16. Mahaffey KR, Clickner RP, Bodurow CC. Blood organic mercuryand

dietary mercury intake: National Health and NutritionExamination Survey,

1999 and 2000. Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Apr;112(5):562-70.

17. Schafer KS, Reeves M, Spitzer S, Kegley SE. Chemical Trespass:Pesticides

in Our Bodies andCorporate Accountability. Pesticide Action Network North

America. May 2004.

18. Galgano F, Favati F, Caruso M, Pietrafesa A, Natella S. Theinfluence of

processing and preservation on the retention of health-promotingcompounds

in broccoli. J Food Sci. 2007 Mar;72(2):S130-5.

19. Fletcher RH, Fairfield KM. Vitamins for Chronic DiseasePrevention in

Adults Clinical Applications. JAMA. 2002;287:3127-3129.

*Thesestatements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Theseproducts are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Subscribe for Specials