Why do we need vitamins and minerals in the first place? Do you lack the energy you think you should have? Do you catch a cold or flu more often than you would like to? Do skin injuries take longer to heal than they should? Do you constantly have the sniffles? Does your hair lack luster or does it shine without external treatments?
Now you are asking, "What does all of the above have to do with vitamins and minerals, or choosing a multivitamin and mineral?"
We are what we eat. Or should I say, we are the nutrients that are absorbed into our cells - macro-nutrients being protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber; micro-nutrients being vitamins and minerals. All are essential, since the only nutrient our body manufactures by itself is vitamin D, and that comes from exposure to the sun.
"Well, if I eat well balanced meals throughout the day, why do I even have to be concerned about vitamins, minerals, multivitamins and minerals, and choosing one from hundreds," you ask.
The journey to good health does begin with a well balanced diet, devoid of processed foods. Processing is the first thief of nutrients. The problem is not necessarily that the nutrients are absent, but that they have been rendered unavailable or changed into an undesirable nutrient by the method of processing. Excessive heat will tie up protein, change starches and carbohydrates into undesirable sugars, dissipate vitamins, and tie up minerals. Yet the label still says they are in the food. Even our own cooking, if done with excessive heat and in water that is subsequently discarded, causes essential nutrients to be lost. It is the same with vitamin and mineral supplements. The manufacture or processing of the multivitamins and minerals affects the bio-availability of those micro nutrients.
Storage of fresh food prior to processing can and does lead to loss of vitamins. Water soluble vitamins, B& C, are especially vulnerable when stored from one season to the next. The longer the time lapse since harvest, the greater the storage losses. Macro nutrients are also compromised through natural aging processes. Still, the losses through storage are significantly less than those caused by processing.
A balanced diet is also significantly influenced by the conditions and fertility of the soil (soil tilth) where the food is grown and harvested. Food production today is a high volume, low margin commodity at the producer level. Producers need to keep their costs of production as low as possible to make a profit. Most times, in an effort to control costs, fertilizer beyond the macro-nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium is not added to the soil. For that reason, there is little or no supplementation for calcium, iron, sulfur, zinc, molybdenum, magnesium, manganese, copper, and other micro-nutrients necessary for quality plant growth and vitamin formulation. These nutrients are compromised even in the fresh food we eat. We begin to understand why we need to supplement with a multivitamin and mineral, and choosing the right multivitamin among hundreds is critical. But wait, there is more.
The bio-availability of minerals is greatly dependent on the form that it is in when consumed. Scientists have found that minerals in a colloidal suspension are the most bioavailable. This means the particle (mineral) has to be small enough (microscopic) to remain in suspension, or mixed in a liquid with out settling out over a short period of time. The processing of mined minerals to achieve this is a costly endeavor unless the surface tension of the liquid is enhanced to hold a larger particle in suspension, that is, the ability of the liquid to maintain the particle in suspension is enhanced. However, if the rock (mineral) is still too large, it will not pass through our own cell membranes.
Soil processes minerals over time, breaks down the minerals in the soil so that they are small enough for the plant to pick them up in the root and transport it to the end of the leaf and use it in a cell. The plant cannot pick up a rock and transplant it.
Therefore, if the soil tilth is good, and the plant picks up the mineral and then naturally puts that mineral in a colloidal suspension so it can transport it, and we then consume this same plant that our digestive system can metabolize, then that mineral can cross our own cell membranes to be utilized for our own health and will being.
Eating a well balanced diet, with as little processing as possible is the beginning of our journey to health and well being. Thus, choosing the right multivitamin and mineral is critical.
Vitamins and minerals also work in concert with one or several others. For instance, vitamin E and selenium work together supporting and enabling our immune system. This is vital in our fight to resist infection.
Choosing the right multivitamin and mineral supplement is crucial to our health. We also need to have the assurance that what the label says is there, is actually bio-available, and that it will actually be absorbed and utilized by our bodies. Currently, there is no requirement that the supplement companies provide this information on their label. They can just list what is in the product, whether it is available to one's body or not.
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