It’s sad but true.

While we’d like to think we can get all our essential nutrients from food, it’s not easy.

Last post I talked about how are diets are never as good as we’d like to think. Most of us know this intuitively, and research confirms we’re not meeting our nutrient requirements.

For example, a 2014 study of Australian adolescents showed that fewer than 50% of females got enough calcium, magnesium, folate or vitamin D or E, and the males fared no better. 50% of males did not get adequate magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin D or E. A multitude of studies shows inadequate nutrient intakes in special groups of people, including breastfeeding mums, people on a gluten-free diet, and older adults.

So this brings me back to another key reason we are not getting enough nutrients:

We can’t get the nutrients from food if they’re not there.

Nutrients in food are lower than you think. Australian soils are low in zinc, molybdenum, manganese and zinc. There has been a dramatic reduction in the amount of nutrients in the soil that grows our fresh food since the 1920s. Magnesium levels in the soil, for example, have declined as the use of fertiliser has risen. This is because increasing levels of phosphate in the soil (from fertiliser) result in the plant taking up less magnesium.

Many heavy metals block the uptake or the action of essential minerals in our body.

Cadmium, which is present in fertiliser, blocks the uptake of zinc. Mercury and lead, which we are exposed to every day, strongly block calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, and other essential trace minerals.

Other chemicals in our environment also compromise nutrient intake.

For example, the fluoride in our water interferes with iodine and molybdenum, minerals that are both essential to our good health.

This is a reality of 21st century living: even when we try to eat the best quality and freshest produce possible, we can’t rely on the level of nutrients being sufficient for our needs.

Next post in this series will focus on common “nutrient thieves” in your diet and lifestyle, some of which may surprise you.


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