THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON WELLNESS MAMA.
You can’t out-supplement a poor diet (or sleep and stress levels). But even with a perfect diet, it is still possible to experience nutrient deficiencies because modern foods can be deficient in certain essential nutrients. To ensure that we get enough of these, I personally use and recommend a whole food source multivitamin like in a greens superfood powder.
What is a Greens Superfood Powder?
In short, a green superfood powder is many servings of vegetables and superfoods in a scoop of water-soluble powder. In addition to veggies and superfoods, the powder may also contain other health-supporting ingredients like probiotics and immune-supporting herbs.
Why Greens Supplement?
An ancestral and whole-foods diet may be a significant step up from the Standard American Diet that has a lot of grains, vegetable oil, and processed ingredients. However, there are many reasons even the seemingly healthy diet alone might still not provide enough micronutrients and antioxidants.
Our Soil is Depleted from Minerals and Good Bacteria
Over the last 100 years, industrial farming has depleted the most nutritious topsoil from important minerals and beneficial soil bacteria that would grow the healthiest foods. As a result, the vegetables in our food supplies also have less mineral density. The reduction of minerals in our foods, as well as the fertilizers and pesticides, may be a contributor to diseases of civilization.
Reduced Food Diversity and Wild Varieties
On Chris Kresser’s podcast, Dr. Thomas Cowan, MD said that healthy hunter-gatherer humans ate a much wider variety of vegetables than we do today, up to 20 species per day and 100 species throughout the year. The supermarket vegetables we normally eat have been bred to have more uniform shapes and sizes, with higher sugar content and less bitterness, which also means less micronutrients and phytonutrients than the wild vegetables.
Reduced Nutrient Density in Vegetables
These vegetables may have been harvested weeks and traveled thousands of miles before they reach your table.
Modern Lifestyle Depletes Vitamins and Minerals
The modern lifestyle, with chronic stressors and pollutions all around us, increases our needs for micronutrients. We need more B vitamins and magnesium to deal with stress. We also need more B vitamins, selenium, and antioxidants to remove the chemicals that we are exposed to.
In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the world leading nutrition researcher Dr. Bruce Ames wrote that low micronutrient status can lead to metabolic disruption, mitochondrial decay, cellular aging, and increased DNA mutation (source).
These can lead to fatigue, hormone imbalances, poor immune function, weight gain, and increased risks of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, supplementation with a multivitamin and mineral is a recommended as a cost-effective way to prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Greens Powder vs Vitamins
As a general rule, it is better to get your micronutrients from whole foods than from synthetic or isolated vitamins. First, nutrients that are present together in whole food sources often work in synergy, like vitamin C and bioflavonoids in fruits or vitamins A and D in egg yolks, cod liver oil and butter. Second, micronutrients in whole foods are generally more bioavailable than the synthetic forms. Third, there are still important nutrients and phytochemicals in plants that we have yet to discover.
Because a greens supplement provides vitamins from nutrient-dense whole food sources, it is a great way to ensure that you get sufficient amounts of micronutrients and antioxidants. The soil may be depleted from minerals, but the sea is not. Therefore, you want to get a greens supplement that includes some marine sources of nutrients.
Most vitamins, especially B vitamins, are stimulants. Many people find B vitamins so stimulating that it causes heart palpitations and anxiety. Whereas, vitamins from whole food sources, with the natural nutrient forms and synergies, are less likely to cause this problem. You may have eaten foods high in B vitamins like vegetables or liver without the heart palpitations. Since it’s also a whole food, greens powder can help with fatigue and hormone balance without the excess stimulation.