Do I supplement or eat real food?

I want to eat healthy, but I recently learned that our soils are depleted of nutrients. What supplements do you recommend in place of minerals and vitamins?

— Jen W., Ventura

First and foremost, it is important to know that, as a result of today’s agricultural advances, we have a greater variety and abundance of produce than ever before. Fruits and vegetables are available in abundance and remain some of the most nutrient-dense foods around. As a matter of fact, some plant-based foods yield more minerals: Carrots, for instance, supply 75 percent more beta carotene today than they did 30 years ago.

What many people aren’t aware of is that, even though growing crops tends to wear out the soil, our farmers, government and scientists make it a priority to replace lost minerals to improve and maintain soil quality.

To bring more clarity to the relationship between our soil and the produce we consume, consider this: Plants don’t grow properly if nutrients in the soil are inadequate. Surprisingly, vitamins are created by plants. But minerals (i.e., potassium, calcium, iron) come from the soil. The point I am making is that, when minerals aren’t present in the soil, the plants may droop, fail to flower and could die; or the fruits and vegetables that are produced may not be sold because of poor appearance.

You may be thinking, “If our soils are so great, why is it such a popular belief that our soils are depleted?” There are studies that have concluded that some crops have demonstrated small declines in certain minerals, while others have not. What many of these studies fail to shed light on is how nutrients can vary from one batch of produce to another, depending on the weather and other factors. It’s not surprising that soil depletion is a common subject when vitamin and mineral supplements are a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Bottom line: Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and avoid being influenced to supplement your nutrients out of fear that our soil has been damaged.

Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About

I’ve been watching this TV infomercial lately where Kevin Trudeau is selling his book, Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. This book is a huge best-seller and I wanted to get your thoughts on whether or not it’s good.

— Mica G., Camarillo

In this book, Mr. Trudeau says that doctors, scientists and drug companies, along with the government, the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, big food companies and, of course, the media are all corrupt and out of control. He says that these organizations want you to be sick and don’t want you to know about natural cures. Unfortunately, because so many people are frustrated with the “how to” of being healthy and losing weight, this book is appealing and appears to have all the answers.

What many people aren’t aware of is that Trudeau is a convicted felon who spent two years in jail for credit card fraud. He has appeared in many TV infomercials — he sold memory enhancers, snoring treatments, the Atkins diet and other highly questionable products.

This book is filled with empty promises and, in my opinion, dangerous advice. If I had to say one thing positive about Mr. Trudeau, it is that he is a great salesman.