By Doctor Sohere Roked 

18th April 2016

Let me start by being somewhat controversial: 
As a general rule, I believe everyone needs to take supplements in some shape or form 

There are undoubtedly mixed feelings about this topic and people often ask me why I advocate taking supplements as research hasn’t always supported their benefits. This also accompanies a very common statement, ‘I prefer to get my vitamins from my food.’ 
My response is always, ‘So you eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, every day then?’ 
More often than not the answer is a sheepish ‘no’. 
Here’s why I feel we need supplementation in addition to a healthy diet:
1. Most people simply don’t eat enough fruit and veg

The World Health Organization recommends we have five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. In Australia, their recommendation is seven a day (two fruit and five vegetables) and in Japan it’s 12. The majority of the population in the UK don’t even make the lower limit recommendation of five a day. In fact, it’s believed only one in seven of us actually achieves our five a day. All our vitamins and minerals are found in natural foods, not in the processed foods that make up the majority of our diets. Supplements are no substitute for eating actual fruit and vegetables, but they do help to bridge the gap.

2. Produce picked months ago

Even those of us who do meet our five-a-day requirement may need supplements. In the days of our grandparents, people would buy their fruit and vegetables from a local greengrocer and eat in season. The produce would probably have been grown in the local area and so hadn’t travelled far. Nowadays the fruit and vegetables that we buy in the supermarkets may come from abroad and even our own produce can be stored to be eaten in another season so may have been picked months ago, meaning the nutritional value may have been depleted over time. 

3. Widespread pesticide use 

Most fruit and vegetables have been preserved with pesticides and other chemicals to help them grow, been mass produced and travelled from the other side of the world. This means that we’re ingesting large amounts of chemicals and our bodies need support in removing these toxins from our systems. This is why buying local and organic produce where possible is far better. 

4. Declining quality of fruit & veg

In general, the quality of fruit and vegetables is not the same as it once was. Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas studied US Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits. Their landmark study found that levels of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C have declined over the past half century. The research team put this down to the shifting focus of agricultural practices away from nutrition and towards improving traits such as size, growth rate and pest resistance.

5. Soil Depletion

Over the years, the soil we use has also become depleted of nutrients. Fruit and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this trend is soil depletion. The fertilisers and chemicals used in the soil mean that crops grow faster and bigger, but there’s an increasing lack of the trace minerals needed to keep our fruit and vegetables full of goodness. Here’s some startling facts:
A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 per cent, iron levels 37 per cent, vitamin A levels 21 per cent and vitamin C levels 30 per cent. 
A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980 found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 per cent, iron 22 per cent and potassium 14 per cent. 
Yet another study concluded that one person would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of vitamin A as someone from our grandparents’ generation would have received from one!
These are the reasons I recommend everybody should take good quality supplements. 

Choosing a Good Quality Supplement
I normally recommend using a specialist company as opposed to a supermarket. The reason for this is because these multivitamins and supplements usually contain more absorbable forms of nutrients, so it’s not always cost effective to go for the very cheapest. Some of the cheaper products also contain synthetic inactive ingredients or colours and preservatives which can interfere with absorption by the body.
Of course it would be wonderful if we could get the majority of our nutrition from the food we eat, but a multivitamin and other health supplements in conjunction with a healthy diet helps to bridge this gap and can help to improve our overall health and energy levels.