Why your food may not give you all the nutrients you need

Written by The Formettā team

Even if you eat a varied, nutrient-dense diet based on whole foods, some nutrients are challenging to get through food alone. The factors below contribute to food not providing all the nutrition we need to feel our best and age gracefully.


As if there wasn’t enough to worry about as we age, the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food decreases as we grow older (1). We may be more focussed on the external signs of ageing, but it’s the internal ones that really impact our quality of life.

Medical conditions and medications

Some medical conditions lead to the malabsorption of certain nutrients, further worsening the condition of patients. Inflammation has been shown to decrease vitamin D absorption (2) and obesity has the same effect (3). Many medications interfere with nutrient absorption in the digestive process. For example, statin can deplete Coenzyme Q10, a highly effective antioxidant.


Certain biological predispositions mean that some people are more prone to needing dietary supplements to get the nutrition they need. People carrying the CYP2R1 gene mutation are less able to absorb vitamin D (4). Those with FUT2 gene variations have a hard time absorbing vitamin B12 (5) and mutations of the MTHFR gene can lead to folate deficiency (6).

Diet (including alcohol and tobacco use)

Because collagen, DHA/EPA, vitamin B12, zinc, iron, vitamin K2, and calcium are most readily available through animal products, vegan diets are often deficient in these nutrients. Collagen can be a particular issue for people who exclude all animal-sourced foods as this protein cannot be sourced from plants.

Smoking leads to deficiencies in vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin E, and vitamin A (7, 8, 9, 10). And alcohol has a negative impact on nutrient absorption (11, 12, 13, 14), which can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Food production and distribution

The way our food is manufactured, processed, and shipped often results in food on our plates with lower nutritional content. To a lesser extent, cooking and heating foods also contributes to nutrient degradation.

Modern agriculture

Commercial farming prioritises breeding for sweetness, yield, and shelf-life—not nutrition. Whereas ancient corn varieties contained 30% protein and just 2% sugar, today’s ubiquitous sweet corn is between 20 and 40% sugar and only 4% protein (15, 16).

Additionally, modern fertilisation methods actually deplete the soil of essential nutrients depletion—and the food we eat is only as healthy as the soil it’s grown in. A comprehensive analysis that spanned from 1975 to 1997 looked at nutrients in 12 different vegetables: the average calcium levels dropped 27%; iron levels were down 37%; vitamin A levels decreased by 21%, and the vitamin C levels in the veggies shrunk by 30% (17).

The result? We’re nutrient poor

Throw lifestyle challenges into the mix and, along with the reasons above, it’s no wonder most of us find it hard to get the nutrients we need to thrive from the food we eat. And the numbers of people who don’t get their minimum recommended daily intake of micronutrients is staggering. In the US, 98% of adults don’t get enough potassium (18). 95% do not consume adequate Vitamin D with 94% getting below the recommended around of Vitamin E. 61% of Americans not taking sufficient magnesium—and the list goes on (19).

A wise supplement solution

One thing is sure, we are well-fed but undernourished. As an easy-to-take reliable source of nutrients your body needs, Formettā can help maximise your nutrition—minimising ageing inside and out and helping you feel your best.


1. Robert M. Russell. “Factors in Aging that Effect the Bioavailability of Nutrients,” The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 131, Issue 4, April 2001, Pages 1359S–1361S

2. Mangin M, Sinha R, Fincher K. “Inflammation and vitamin D: the infection connection.” Inflamm Res. 2014;63(10):803‐819. doi:10.1007/s00011-014-0755-z

3. Mehmood ZH, Papandreou D. “An Updated Mini Review of Vitamin D and Obesity: Adipogenesis and Inflammation State.” Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2016;4(3):526‐532. doi:10.3889/oamjms.2016.103

4. Thacher TD, Fischer PR, Singh RJ, Roizen J, Levine MA. “CYP2R1 Mutations Impair Generation of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and Cause an Atypical Form of Vitamin D Deficiency.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015;100(7):E1005‐E1013.

5. Hazra A, Kraft P, Selhub J, et al. “Common variants of FUT2 are associated with plasma vitamin B12 levels.” Nat Genet. 2008;40(10):1160‐1162. doi:10.1038/ng.210

6. Hiraoka M, Kagawa Y. “Genetic polymorphisms and folate status.” Congenit Anom (Kyoto). 2017;57(5):142‐149.

7. Vardavas CI, Linardakis MK, Hatzis CM, Malliaraki N, Saris WH, Kafatos AG. “Smoking status in relation to serum folate and dietary vitamin intake.” Tob Induc Dis. 2008;4(1):8. Published 2008 Sep 9.

8. Bashar SK, Mitra AK. “Effect of smoking on vitamin A, vitamin E, and other trace elements in patients with cardiovascular disease in Bangladesh: a cross-sectional study.” Nutr J. 2004;3:18. Published 2004 Oct 5.

9. Galan P, Viteri FE, Bertrais S, Czernichow S, Faure H, Arnaud J, Ruffieux D, Chenal S, Arnault N, Favier A, Roussel AM, Hercberg S. “Serum concentrations of beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, zinc and selenium are influenced by sex, age, diet, smoking status, alcohol consumption and corpulence in a general French adult population.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Oct;59(10):1181-90.

10. Preston AM1. “Cigarette smoking-nutritional implications.” Prog Food Nutr Sci. 1991;15(4):183-217.

11. Hoyumpa AM. “Mechanisms of vitamin deficiencies in alcoholism.” Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1986 Dec;10(6):573-81.

12. Lieber, C.S. “The influence of alcohol on nutritional status.” Nutrition Reviews 46(7):241-254, 1988.

13. Feinman, L. “Absorption and utilization of nutrients in alcoholism.” Alcohol Health & Research World 13(3):207-210, 1989.

14. Thomson, A.D., and Pratt, O.E. “Interaction of nutrients and alcohol: Absorption, transport, utilization, and metabolism.” In: Watson, R.R., and Watzl, B., eds. Nutrition and Alcohol. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1992. pp. 75-99.

15. Jo Robinson. Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health. Hachette UK, 04.06.2013.

16. Jo Robinson. “Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food.” The New York Times. May 25, 2013.

17. Marles RJ. “Mineral nutrient composition of vegetables, fruits and grains: The context of reports of apparent historical declines.” Journal of Food Composition and Analysis Volume 56, March 2017, Pages 93-103

18. Michael Greger. 98% of American Diets Potassium-Deficient. https://nutritionfacts.org/2013/05/23/98-of-american-diets-potassium-deficient/. Published May 23, 2013. Accessed May 2020.

19. Adrianne Bendich, Richard J. Deckelbaum. Preventive Nutrition: The Comprehensive Guide for Health Professionals. Springer, 01.01.2016