During a graduate nutrition course at the University of Minnesota, a professor posed a challenge to the class: Construct a 2000 calorie-per-day diet that at least met the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for vitamins and minerals without the use of supplements. Most of the graduate students thought that this was going to be a simple assignment. After all, we had been told over and over again that people can get all of the nutrients their body needs simply by eating a well-balanced diet. Well, the professor was putting that statement to the test.
To everyone’s surprise, no one was able to come up with a sustainable daily diet that met the minimum RDA requirements. The graduate students discovered that it is impossible to get everything that you need from the food we eat. But how could this be? Certainly people have lived on this planet for a long time and must have been able to get everything they needed from their diet. The answer has to do with modern farming techniques, fertilizers and environmental stresses.
Following the Second World War, chemical manufacturers were sitting on huge stockpiles of phosphates and nitrates that were initially intended for use in explosives. They discovered that when they spread these same phosphates and nitrates on the soil where plants were growing, the plants grew bigger and looked healthier. Thus began the boom of the fertilizer industry.
The problem with modern fertilizers is that they don’t replace soil trace minerals, such as chromium, zinc and copper, as do cow manure and other natural fertilizers. Over time, these trace minerals become more and more depleted from the soil and, consequently, our food supply becomes more depleted as well. The bottom line is that in order to get enough trace minerals in our diet to at least meet the minimum RDAs, it is necessary to take a good quality supplement.