In nature, foods do not contain a single nutrient, but rather come packed with multivitamins. A carrot, for example, contains alpha and beta carotenes that are metabolised into Vitamin A, as well as small amounts of B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, and Potassium. Red meat is high in iron, B vitamins, and minerals such as zinc as well as the macro-nutrient protein. Watermelon contains fruit sugar, Vitamin A, C, some B Vitamins such as folate, and Choline. Even lettace contains a range of nutrients, including Vitamin A, Lutein, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, Phosphorous and Potassium.
It is not unusual, then, for humans to get sustenance from foods that are also multivitamin sources.
The key to good health, however, is variety. Traditionally the Japanese eat at least 100 different types of ingredients per week as part of their normal diet. In the West, the count is much lower, with the average health-conscious person consuming perhaps 20-30, and an unhealthy person consuming just 10-20 different types of foods in an average week. Most people rely heavily on wheat, potatoes, oats, red meat, chicken, tomato, onions, cheese and corn, with perhaps beans, lettace, carrot, broccoli, apples, oranges, bananas and cucumber representing fresh foods.
Given mass food production methods, increasingly over-worked soils that have become low in minerals and organic matter, picking fruits and vegetables before they are fully matured to increase the shelf life, shipping of foods from place to place (even country to country), many foods no longer offer the nutrient profile and live enzymes they once did. This means the nutrient profiles of foods have changed and they are no longer the source of multivitamins they once were. Supplementation with multivitamins has become more commonplace as a result. These vitamin supplements help to top us up? with essential nutrients to keep our bodies functioning as they should.
Ideally, we wouldn’t need to turn to synthetic vitamins for support, but the realities of modern life has resulted in a situation where for many busy people supplementation with a multivitamin is a necessity. As well, modern cooking techniques can contribute to the destruction of nutrients in the foods we eat such as vitamins but also enzymes and antioxidants that exist in vegetables.
Furthermore with the advent of refrigeration and packaged foods with long shelf life people are not varying their diet according to what fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are in season and further narrowing the variety and diversity of foods that we eat throughout the year. This could lead to further deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals.
If we consider that most foods come packed with a range of nutrients it is not unusual or unnatural for the body to process more than one nutrient at a time. Whenever possible, getting our vitamins from fresh food and drinks, such as juices, broths or teas, is the ideal. When the freshness or variety of the foods we have access to is below par, however, a natural next step is supplementation with good quality multivitamins.