I have a confession to make. For years, I honestly thought that multivitamins were only necessary for people who didn’t have a nutrient-dense diet. These were people who were mainly eating processed and fast food.
I truly believed that if you are eating a good diet, there is no need to be taking multivitamins regularly because everything you needed was provided from your diet.
This thought pattern was turned upside down when I started digging into the world of genomics four years ago. What I discovered revolutionized my practice and my life.
Through the lens of genomics, I discovered that you can be nutrient deficient even while eating a healthy, balanced wholesome diet. For the most part, we get our vitamins and minerals from plant materials. However, what no one talks about is the fact that our body has to convert these pre vitamins into active “usable” vitamins.
Not everyone does that conversion process very well due to genetic variants inherited from our ancestors. For example, some people do not convert beta carotene to active vitamin A (retinol, retinal).
What does this mean for you?
Well, you could be eating a diet chock full of carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and cantaloupe and still be low in vitamin A. To make things more confusing, eating more beta carotene doesn’t necessarily equal higher vitamin A levels. On the flip side, taking a high level of supplemental retinol can also put your health at risk.
This conversion phenomenon does not stop with vitamin A. It can be extended to other micronutrients such as vitamins D, B5, and K. It also applies to Omega 3 fatty acid which is an essential fat.
Vitamins and minerals are the foundational pieces of our health. They function as enzymes and catalysts for significant reactions within the body such as energy production, nervous system, digestive, skin, reproductive, cardiovascular and immune health. Without adequate amounts of these vitamins and minerals in the body, the system begins to fail and chronic illness starts to set in.
To some extent, we all need some form of supplementation. The tricky part is knowing which supplements your particular body needs. The one size fits many approach to health is failing us. What is needed is an individualized approach that looks at each person uniquely.
Genomic analysis offers individuals a clearer picture of which vitamins and minerals they are genetically at risk of being deficient in. This coupled with laboratory testing can give a clearer picture of what the body truly needs.