A common and valid question to supplement brands is whether their products are necessary – particularly for healthy individuals with a balanced diet.

Unfortunately, even for those who are very careful about what they eat, various factors can impact our diet and limit nutrition. Therefore, even the most devoted clean eaters could benefit from incorporating micronutrient supplements into their diet.

A 21st-century problem

Of course, our ancestors survived solely on nutrients from the crops they could grow and meat they could farm. However, the realities of modern life mean that the fruits and vegetables available to us today may not be as nutritious.

A third of soil globally is moderately or highly degraded, owing to intensive farming practices and overpopulation. Therefore, even a varied diet may not supply sufficient quantities of zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin C, and other micronutrients.

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Furthermore, modern Western lifestyles are beset by inactivity, suboptimal sleep and processed food. All these factors contribute to a diet high in calories but nutritionally-deficient. The issue is known as the ‘nutrition gap’. Studies suggest that vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iodine are among the most common deficiencies.

Also, the older we are, the more we need these micronutrients. Since the average lifespan is increasing globally, addressing the nutrition gap is particularly urgent.

Medications and lifestyle choices

Modern medicine, while life-saving, actually has the potential to negatively impact nutrition. Antibiotics, in particular, can kill off the healthy gut bacteria, which helps produce B vitamins. The use of contraceptive pills may also compromise the levels of riboflavin, pyridoxine, folacin, vitamin B12, ascorbic acid and zinc.

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Those who smoke may experience lower levels of vitamins C and E. At the same time, drinking alcohol can reduce levels of Vitamin B6 and C and zinc.

Vulnerable populations

Even those who we may perceive as having a very healthy lifestyle may be at risk of deficiency.

Very physically active individuals and athletes may benefit from magnesium to limit muscle injury and promote recovery and sodium, calcium, and potassium. Also, female athletes often experience iron deficiencies.

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Vegan and vegetarian diets are becoming increasingly popular – particularly in the fight against climate change. While these diets have many well-documented benefits for both health and the planet, it’s worth remembering that nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12 have traditionally been sourced from animal products. Therefore, those on a plant-based diet are at heightened risk of deficiency.

Our life stages may also demand more nutrient quantities than an average healthy diet can supply. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may become deficient in folate and vitamin B12. Calcium and vitamin D are similarly essential throughout menopause and for older adults more generally.

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The takeaway

A varied and nutritious diet is preferential for everyone. However, various environmental and social factors jeopardise our micronutrient intake. At Authentic Biotics, we believe everyone deserves optimum nutrition. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that you can take to counteract an unhealthy diet or lack of exercise. Even so, supplements have the potential to help fill the gaps in nutrition depending on individual needs.