One of the questions my patients ask me most frequently is, "Why do I need to take a multivitamin when I can get all the nutrients I need from the food I eat?”

Well, that just isn’t true. New statistics are coming in that show we do indeed need to take multivitamins. The University of Texas recently completed a study of 48 garden crops. As a naturopath I found their conclusions startling. Compared to 50 years ago, the common tomato contains 40 per cent less vitamin C, 40 per cent less protein and 40 per cent fewer minerals!

This is particularly startling when you consider that many of the vitamins and minerals we need are not manufactured in the body and are only ingested in our food – so it is crucial that we eat nutrient rich vegetables and fruit.

The University of Texas researchers studied 13 nutrients and when they averaged these out over all 48 vegetables they found that the vitamin C content had gone down 20 per cent, protein content had gone down six per cent and riboflavin, one of the few B vitamins studied, had gone down 39 per cent.

This is especially alarming when you consider that we need more nutrients and more nutrient rich food now than ever before. The pollution and toxins being poured into our atmosphere is going up – not down. And now that the American Administration has rolled back environmental safeguards in the United States, the situation can only get worse. The escalation of this toxic load on our immune systems is making us more susceptible to all sorts of diseases.

Our farming practices – otherwise knows as agri-business – have simply not been concerned with growing nutrient rich foods. We’ve been breeding larger fruit and vegetables and we have been increasing our crop yield. It may well be that these larger vegetables can’t uptake the minerals form the soil quickly enough before ripening. Of course, many of these crops are also grown on depleted soil.

The Texas study questions these modern farming methods which rely heavily on pesticides and herbicides, which deplete the organisms necessary for the uptake of minerals into the vegetables. The study also adds sound arguments to the case for eating organic fruits and vegetables. Have you ever compared the taste of an organic orange with an ordinary one? There is no comparison.

New studies show that organic foods not only taste better, but that they are also free of chemicals and have a higher vitamin and mineral content.

So eat organic foods as often as possible and do take an excellent multi-vitamin. You need the extra help in this increasing toxic world.

Dr. Paulette Roscoe is a naturopathic physician who practices in Nanaimo. She welcomes your calls at 754-1733.