Are food supplements really necessary if my diet is healthy and varied? You are right to ask yourself the question, because, in fact, a balanced diet is the basis of good health and can in no way be equaled by food supplements . In principle, she must provide for our needs alone. However, the truth is quite different: due to our food choices, stress or even intensive agriculture, it is very difficult to provide the body with all the essential nutrients it needs and to cover the daily intake. recommended. Several studies have also shown that the majority of French people do indeed have vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
The objective of supplementation is in no way to replace a healthy diet or to cure an illness, but to maintain one's health by filling a potential deficiency through the provision of vitamins, minerals, trace elements or plants. . Taking food supplements should be seen as a helping hand to supplement one's diet , prevent a risk of deficiencies, or even respond to specific problems or discomforts such as digestion disorders, stress, fatigue, digestive problems. skin or joints. They sometimes have an interest in the prevention of certain diseases as shown by various studies .
Food supplements can be all the more important at certain stages of life (growth, pregnancy, menopause, aging) as well as for certain specific diets (vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant, etc.). Obviously, for these specific cases, it is strongly recommended to consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Whatever your physiological state or your diet, it is important to respect the recommended dosages to avoid any risk of overdose. Ideally, the use of food supplements should be done over several months to maximize the benefits but should also remain punctual so as not to let the body get used to them.
Find out in this article written by our experts why supplementation may sometimes be necessary.
The soils have become depleted of vitamins and minerals
Although more and more French people are turning to a more varied diet and opting for healthier choices, today's diet contains fewer vitamins and minerals than before. Indeed, the micronutrient richness of the foods we consume automatically depends on the quality of the soil in which they are grown. Due to intensive agriculture, soils have gradually become poorer and the concentration of micronutrients in fruits, vegetables and cereals has therefore decreased considerably. Farmers have doubled or even tripled their yield by relying mainly on harmful substances (fertilizers and pesticides) and mechanization. Unfortunately, focusing on modern agriculture with high yields has gradually led to a decline in the nutritional quality of our food . The same portion of tomatoes, potatoes and corn provides far fewer essential nutrients than in the past. In particular, there is a large decrease in iron, zinc, calcium, selenium and vitamin C in a large number of common foods . Refining cereals can, for example, deprive them of 80% of their magnesium . Studies carried out in 2004 in the United States, on 43 fruits and vegetables, indicate that nutrient concentrations have decreased: by 20% for vitamin C, 15% for iron, 16% for calcium or even 6% for proteins . This is why eating healthy and balanced does not automatically provide the recommended nutrient intake and is compatible with supplementation.
Food processing impacts their nutritional quality
The numerous changes in our economic, social and cultural environment have impacted our eating habits and our health. In the past, the French ate better because they had more time to devote to cooking. They knew what they were eating since they prepared home-cooked meals from nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Food production processes have rapidly become industrialized and the use of preservatives and additives has become more widespread. Consumption of processed products has increased considerably, at the expense of fresh products. Indeed, in addition to having good taste and a longer shelf life, these products represent a huge time saver. Thus, in an environment where convenience and speed have become essential criteria, the consumption of prepared and frozen meals has become common and vegetables are pre-cut and packaged to save time when preparing the meal. These new manufacturing processes use thermal, physical and chemical treatments (temperature, sealing and opacity of the pack, etc.) which can directly impact the nutritional value of foods . Indeed, they can quickly denature food products by reducing their richness in micronutrients (vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements). Cooking can in particular degrade the vitamin content of foods . For example, 2 minutes of cooking destroys 80% of vitamin B9 (vitamin essential for the production of our DNA).
Lifestyles are changing and leading to deficiencies
CREDOC, which regularly conducts studies on the eating behavior of the French, estimates that less than 5% of French people eat a truly balanced diet and respect the recommended nutritional intakes. Indeed, we notice an abundance of refined carbohydrates and saturated fatty acids in their diet and an insufficiency of vitamins, minerals and amino acids linked to a low consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Deficiencies in magnesium , selenium, vitamins C, D, B9, B12, and even omega-3 are alarming the medical world. A study carried out by the Institut de Veille Sanitaire (InVS) revealed that almost 80% of the French population suffers from a deficiency in vitamin D, which is essential for our body to strengthen immunity and preserve bone health. This vitamin can be provided by food and synthesized by the action of the sun on the skin. Unfortunately, the increase in sedentary lifestyle, due in part to urbanization, lack of sport, teleworking, increasing use of screens, impacts the secretion of vitamin D. Added to this is the fact that it is difficult to get enough of it through our diet . Iron deficiency is also very significant: between 20% and 25% of the world's population is affected by this deficiency called iron deficiency anemia. Magnesium deficiency affects two thirds of the European population.
Stress is everywhere
Our modern society is increasingly focused on the cult of performance and perfection. If this can be seen as a way to stimulate yourself, it is also one of the reasons why stress is present everywhere. Often underestimated, it is a social phenomenon that concerns everyone and deserves our attention. Manifestations of stress are omnipresent: work overload, health, financial, family or professional problems. The health consequences are numerous. This stress, which is skyrocketing, is extremely consuming of nutrients and can promote the appearance of pathologies or discomfort, themselves vectors of stress (a real vicious circle)! Stress, for example, amplifies the urinary elimination of magnesium . Thus, the longer it lasts, the greater the deficit and the more fatigue, and therefore sensitivity to stress, is increased. Chronic stress can also impact digestion and in this case, the absorption and assimilation of nutrients does not occur optimally. Maintaining a good work-life balance is a real challenge. In the event of physical and psychological stress, our body needs more essential nutrients to function properly. Appropriate food supplements can provide the micronutrients necessary for the body to reduce the risk of deficiencies and symptoms linked to stress.
The body is exposed to increasing oxidative stress
The environment in which we live can sometimes lead to a strong production of free radicals and create oxidative stress. When free radicals are produced in too large quantities, they accumulate in our body and become harmful to our health. They accelerate the aging of the body and can be the cause of certain degenerative or chronic diseases. If diet should normally be sufficient to combat oxidative stress, the explosion of smoking, overconsumption of alcohol and caffeine, exposure to UV rays and pollution, intensive sport or even poor lifestyle requires a greater consumption of antioxidants . The role of antioxidants on human health has been proven repeatedly. A study carried out in France on 13,017 people over 8 years notably demonstrated a 31% reduction in cancers in men who received nutritional doses of antioxidants . Taking food supplements (rich in vitamins C and E, polyphenols, beta-carotene, etc.) may therefore be necessary to boost our natural defenses, to regain sufficient antioxidant intake and thus avoid any imbalance.
A growing desire for well-being
Food supplements not only provide supplementation for our nutritional deficiencies but also help with our health and well-being. They are intended for all those who, for reasons linked to current lifestyles, wish to respond to specific problems in a natural way: facilitate their digestion, reduce their sleep and anxiety problems, boost their immune defenses, prepare their skin in the sun, treat skin problems, reduce joint pain, etc. Generally speaking, plants such as vitamins and minerals contribute to well-being and improve our health, by naturally rebalancing our body. These supplements in fact participate in a modern approach to naturopathy and are developed with the aim of relieving many ailments.
Nowadays, food supplements may therefore be necessary. The use of plants for health purposes has been known since ancient times. If you still have doubts, you can refer to studies published over the last thirty years on the effectiveness of food supplements in recognized medical journals. In addition, know that they benefit from a regulatory framework that guarantees consumer protection. The DGCCRF carries out regular checks, before and after they are placed on the market.
Finally, food supplements should obviously not replace a varied and balanced diet , but rather complement it. It is important to choose them according to your needs. To know what to choose, it is best to avoid self-medication and to contact a health professional who can guide you, especially for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children and people under medical treatment. In order to control the doses and daily intake, remember to refer to the product label , which must include certain indications such as the quantity of active ingredients, the dosage, the duration of use, a note on contraindications , etc.
These tips are intended to improve your daily life and in no way replace medical follow-up or a consultation with your naturopath. These suggestions should never encourage the reader to withdraw or stop current medical treatment.