“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We have all heard it said time and time again, but this old maxim is showing its age. To be sure, healthy eating has always been and always will be foundational to wellness. Yet today there is another concurrent reality: Food Is Not Enough. If we rely solely on food, we simply are not likely to get all the nutrients we need to stay feeling and performing at our best. Read on to learn why and how to better find nutritional balance.
Overfed and Undernourished: Why We’re So Deficient
Research suggests around 90% of Americans do not get enough essential vitamins and minerals from food alone.1 In the case of some nutrients, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data suggests 100% of the population does not have adequate intake from food sources.2 We are falling short even when we are striving to eat healthily as we know we should and regardless of factors such as age, sex, and life stage that make our individual needs quite different. There is not one clear reason why we are so deficient, rather several important contributing issues:
Soil Loss & Degradation
Fruits and vegetables are only as nutritious as the soil they are grown in, and today’s soil is not nearly as healthy as it used to be, due to commercial farming practices and the effects of climate change. Specifically, nitrogen stores have decreased by 42%, phosphorus by 27%, and sulfur by 33%; plants need these nutrients for optimal growth and to produce vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes.3
In fact, because of erosion, we are losing nutrient-rich topsoil (the uppermost soil layer in which nearly all the food we eat is grown) at 10-1,000 times the rate at which it can be replenished.4 A recent paper out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst reported that more than one-third of the Corn Belt in the Midwest—spanning nearly 30 million acres of farmland—has lost its topsoil entirely.5
As a direct result, the produce we eat today is not as nutritious as the produce our grandparents ate. A landmark 2004 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared modern garden crops to those grown in 1950. Its findings? An up to nearly 40% decline in vital nutrients—from Vitamin C to Calcium, Iron, Riboflavin, and more—among 43 different types of produce.6 Other research has yielded similar results, including a study that showed it is not just vegetables that are losing nutrients but grains, too, finding the magnesium concentration in wheat has decreased up to 29%.7
Lack of Quality & Quantity
The Standard American Diet (SAD) simply does not offer a variety of nutrient-dense foods. We are busier than ever before, so convenient but low-nutrient processed, junk, and fast foods have taken the place of more nutritious options. In many instances, we are overfed and undernourished; we are getting the calories we require and then some, but without the vitamins and minerals we need. What’s more, we are living in a time of increasing food shortages and growing food inequality, meaning many people cannot access or have limited access to high-quality food sources.
In the end, we do not consume ample quantities of nutrient-dense foods to meet the daily recommended intakes, much less the quantities needed to maintain peak performance. More on this below.
With our too-hectic schedules, we often cook our meals in ways that do not preserve their vitamin and mineral content. Not all of us have personal chefs and nutritionists preparing our food; there just may not be time at the end of the day to choose the most ideal cooking method for each piece of protein or each vegetable.
But that doesn’t mean the solution is to not cook our food. Some foods consumed raw contain antinutrients such as phytates, phenols, lectins, and oxalates, which can block vitamin and mineral absorption.
Speaking of, our bodies may only absorb a portion of the nutrients found in food—and traditional vitamins, too (but we have a solution for that; keep reading). This can create a significant variance between what the body needs and what it actually gets. “The fact that people absorb far less nutrients than they realize is an often-overlooked truth,” says Dr. Pamela M. Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM, Head of the Solaray Science Advisory Team, and named one of America’s top physicians by the Consumers' Research Council of America. “Even the most purposeful, curated, ‘healthy’ food diets will have naturally occurring nutritional gaps.”
The Reality of the American Diet—And Our Daily Lives
When it comes to healthy eating, we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. But as is clear, even when we are doing everything we can to follow a balanced diet, it still may not be enough. The odds are something is missing.
In other words, we are not deficient because we are doing anything wrong. It is just the reality of the American diet—and daily life, which does not always allow us to carry out our own well-intentioned plans when it comes to wholesome eating. What we want to do and what we are able to do are two different things, and that is where supplements come in. Solaray is your trusted partner to help you better find nutritional balance.
Closing the Gap: The Power of Supplementation
Of course, supplements cannot take the place of quality fruits and vegetables, but they are an essential addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Smart supplementation is important to nutritional wellness in two major ways: 1) It can help reinforce a balanced diet and fill in any nutrient gaps, and 2) It can help you sustain nutrient levels required for peak performance.
The FDA established the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) and Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) to help us attain a minimum level of nutrition to support basic physiology. We want to ensure we are meeting these levels, and supplements can help close any gaps we may be experiencing because of the reasons shared above. But for our bodies to function at their peak, studies support higher levels of some vitamins and minerals.
This is what our Food Is Not Enough campaign is all about. We calculated how much of a specific food you would have to consume to get the same amount of nutrients packed into our most in-demand products. The answer? In most cases it would be clearly impossible to eat the quantities of nutrients delivered in a single supplement serving.
- You would need to eat 50 cups of kale, 61 figs, or 5 cups of red quinoa to get the same relaxation, bone, and muscle support packed into one serving of Solaray Magnesium Glycinate.*
- You would need to eat one dozen oranges or 133 strawberries to get the same daily immune support found in one capsule of our timed-release Vitamin C 1000mg formula.*
- You would need to drink 14 6-oz glasses of cranberry juice to get the same urinary support in a serving of Solaray D-Mannose with CranActin.*
- You would need to eat 5 cups of pumpkin seeds or 10 medium oysters to get the same amount of Zinc in just one capsule of our Zinc 50 mg.
Find more eye-opening equivalences here. Don’t see the specific nutrients here you need to close the gaps in your diet? Solaray offers hundreds of products to help you maximize your well-being—nearly every vitamin, mineral, and herb under the sun.
The Takeaway + What We’re Not Saying
Supplements are not meant to replace your meals. A healthy, balanced diet is the foundation of overall wellness, and you should continue to eat nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body. As the name itself indicates, supplements are meant to be “added on” to a wholesome diet to help fill in any nutritional gaps that may be present.
They are the assurance you need—we all need—in our imperfect world, in the face of food scarcity and access issues, soil degradation, and beyond. Solaray can help you cover your nutritional bases with lab-verified, efficacious products you can count on.
Introducing New Solaray Liposomal Multivitamins
We are proud to introduce our brand-new line of multivitamins inspired in large part by the Food Is Not Enough campaign. Solaray’s revolutionary Liposomal Multivitamins are intended to help solve the underlying issues of nutrient availability and absorption: They are crafted using innovative, proprietary technology designed to offer enhanced absorption and superior bioavailability.†
With a high-potency blend of 100% liposomal nutrients from Vitamin A to Zinc, including trace minerals and methylated B Vitamins, you can rest assured you’re getting an efficacious supplement that delivers the level of nutrition you expect. They are the industry’s first liposomal multivitamins in convenient capsules, which are odor neutral and gentle to digest—as well as lab-verified, vegan, gluten-free, and made without soy—for a multi you can truly feel comfortable taking.
The new line includes four formulations targeted for your needs: Universal, Women’s, Women’s 50+ and Men’s. Absorb More. Live Brighter.
- What America’s Missing, A 2011 Report on the Nation’s Nutrient Gap, based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Data.
- “Micronutrient Inadequacies in the US Population: An Overview,” Oregon State University, https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies/overview.
- Peter Kopittke et al. “Global Changes in Soil Stocks of Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Sulphur,” Global Change Biology 23, no. 6 (2017): 2509-2519, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27670741.
- Peter Kopittke et al. “Soil and the Intensification of Agriculture for Global Food Security,” Environmental International 132 (2019): 105070, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019315855.
- “Corn Belt Farmland Has Lost a Third of Its Carbon-Rich Soil,” February 15, 2021, https://www.umass.edu/news/article/corn-belt-farmland-has-lost-third-its.
- Donald Davis, Melvin Epp and Hugh Riordan, “Changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops, 1950 to 1999,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 23, no. 6 (2004): 669-82, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15637215.
- Andrea Rosanoff, “Changing Crop Magnesium Concentrations: Impact on Human Health,” Plant and Soil 368 (2013): 139-153, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11104-012-1471-5.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
† Based on clinical studies on Vitamin C and B12 by Cellg8® (a registered trademark of CELLg8®).
Always talk with your healthcare practitioner to see if a supplement regimen is right for you. Pregnant or nursing mothers, children under 18, and individuals with a known medical condition should consult a physician before using the products mentioned here or any dietary supplement.