Title: The Different Sources of Nutrients

Key words: nutritional requirements, food sources, crop rotation, soil erosion, pesticides, herbicides, supplementation, vitamins, minerals, stable form, synthetic, deficiency, micronutrients, food state, utilisation

Date: April 2001

Category: Materia Medica

Type: Article

Author: Nick Bennett

The Different Sources of Nutrients

The four ways in which nutritional substances can be presented to the body are:

Food is the obvious, dominant group - there is no better way to obtain all nutrients required than from our food. The vegetables and fruit which we consume obtain a wide variety of nutrients from the soil, so consumption of these foods should be sufficient to meet our nutritional requirements.

However, in recent years, the nutritional value of our food sources has decreased. This is due to various factors, such as less (or no) crop rotation, erosion of the top soil, pollution and the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. As a result, many concerned individuals supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals to replenish their body stocks and to ensure adequate intake of these essential micronutrients.

However, the majority of the 13 recognised vitamins cannot be successfully isolated in a stable form for use in supplementation. In order for them to be technologically stable they are converted to salts, such as thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1) or pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6). These forms are not found in nature. In addition, for commercial necessity, many vitamins are chemically synthesised to produce a pure isolate by processes which have little connection with food.

The same problem is found with minerals, for which the sources used for the fortification of foods are mainly inorganic or organic salts of the minerals. These chemically isolated minerals and vitamins, although developed to provide an adequate intake of the nutrients, especially for those at risk of deficiency, do not come close to the efficiency of food in providing the body with nutrients in an easily accessibly form. Hence the development of amino acid chelates and Re-Natured nutrients, which are ways of trying to present the micronutrients to the body in a form as close to food as possible.

The micronutrients provided by the amino acid chelates are more available for the body to utilise than the isolated chemical forms. This is due to the micronutrient in question being complexed with amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins in food.

Re-Natured nutrients, however, progress closer still to efficiency of food in terms of enabling the body to utilise the nutrients. The vitamins and mineral from this type of supplement possess a high utilisation rate by the body, the resulting efficiency being very close to that of food. The reason is that these nutrients are as close to food and its components as they can possibly be.

The following graph demonstrates the potential of the above categories. Food State nutrients contain all of the food factors and ingredients that bring it as close as possible to the natural food state. Although food, if grown on appropriate soil under certain conditions, is always the best means of obtaining all of our nutritional requirements, the second best source has to be Food State supplements.