Crop Nutrient Decline

Crop Nutrient Decline
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How much has the nutrient content of food crops declined over the last 50 years?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

But sellers of supplements like to argue that we have to take vitamin pills, because the nutrient content of our crops has declined over the last 50 years due to soil depletion.

Is that true? The nutrient content of our food is in decline: fact or fiction? It’s a fact. But by how much, though?

On average, over the last 50 years, have the nutrients declined just a little? 1-20%? 20-40%? Have we lost half the nutrition? Do we have to eat like twice as many carrots these days as we would have in the 1950s to get the same amount of nutrition? Or, is it even worse, and the majority of the nutrients have disappeared?

We’ve only lost about 15%, on average, across 43 different crops. So, instead of eating six florets of broccoli, eat seven.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

But sellers of supplements like to argue that we have to take vitamin pills, because the nutrient content of our crops has declined over the last 50 years due to soil depletion.

Is that true? The nutrient content of our food is in decline: fact or fiction? It’s a fact. But by how much, though?

On average, over the last 50 years, have the nutrients declined just a little? 1-20%? 20-40%? Have we lost half the nutrition? Do we have to eat like twice as many carrots these days as we would have in the 1950s to get the same amount of nutrition? Or, is it even worse, and the majority of the nutrients have disappeared?

We’ve only lost about 15%, on average, across 43 different crops. So, instead of eating six florets of broccoli, eat seven.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

Check out these videos for more information on GMOs:
Are GMOs Safe? The Case of BT Corn
Are GMOs Safe? The Case of Roundup Ready Soy
Is Monsanto’s Roundup Pesticide Glyphosate Safe?
GMO Soy & Breast Cancer

And check out my other videos on nutrition myths

For more context, also see my associated blog posts:  Prevent Breast Cancer by Any Greens Necessary, and Best Nutrition Bang for Your Buck.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

13 responses to “Crop Nutrient Decline

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  1. Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on nutrition myths here. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!




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  2. If I put wheat grass in my morning green smoothie is that a good thing or a bad thing? 

    If I bathe in 1 Tbs full of coconut oil every morning is this increasing my cholesterol or do I actually have to injest it?  Can it pass through my skin?




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    1. Create your self as a guinea pig. Have your blood cholesterol tested after bathing in coconut oil, while making certain that you are not eating any cholesterol containing foods.

      Then after a few months –keeping track of the foods you ingest –ingest coconut oil, but do not bathe in it, and have your blood cholesterol tested again.

      Report back to us. Unless coconut oil passes through the skin, I should think you’d be “safe” bathing in it. But, that’s my guesstimate.




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  3. Our crops have lost some of their nutritional value – I assume that this is where soil has been misused by 1. lack of crop rotation and 2. pesticides and herbicides. I assume that if I plant a garden in my back yard, there is no nutritional loss from days of old. Is this wrong?




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    1. It would depend on quality of soil and the seeds you plant and other variables such as weather and water. Generally planting your own fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to save money, avoid pesticides and get healthy food. Good luck with the garden.




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      1. It is the micro-organisms in the soil that “feed” the plants the nutrients they need. Plants growing in soils that are “dead” lack the minerals because the micro-organisms are not there to feed them. This is why adding organic matter to the soil is so important. Organic matter is food for the microbes. Spraying chemicals such as pesticides, etc., kill these needed microbes in the soil. So buy organic or better yet grow organic!




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  4. I think there is a danger with studies like this – they give a false sense of security. Business as usual for modern farming. In many places, the top soil is being eroded so fast that it is predicted to disappear in the next few decades. Granted, these are only the most intensely farmed zones – but we need to learn to farm in a way that improves the top soil – both for plant growth and for carbon sequestration. It is entirely possible that the top soil will keep giving us a good level of nutrients until it is gone.




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  5. So buy organic produce because they feed the soil, beside supplements are fractured/mostly laboratory concoctions and do not work in the body like foods do. Just look at an orange for example – there are many many nutrients in an orange that you will never get from taking a supplement like ascorbic acid, which by the way is usually synthetic and is NOT vitamin C. We were meant to eat food not pills.




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    1. Vitamin C is a simple molecule. Supplement vendors like to suggest they have a magic ‘complex’ version to push their brand.
      C requires other substances to do it’s work, like lysine, proline, etc. But those aren’t part of some Vitamin C complex.

      Vitamin C is C6H8O6. Nothing more and nothing less. Synthetic or not it’s the same.

      Vitamin C may be more effective when combined with other antioxidants. No surprise. Please don’t suggest that ‘synthetic’ Vitamin C isn’t Vitamin C. That’s just not correct. It’s a simple molecule.




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  6. We have thousands of studies to draw from. But we need to avoid the urge to over-extrapolate, beyond what the data suggest.

    Apparently, crop nutrients have declined by some 15%. The video suggests we simply eat a little more. That assumes the nutrient decline was similar for all nutrients. Yet the research wasn’t thorough enough.

    I’ve read elsewhere, that the nutrient decline may represent a total lack of some important trace elements.

    Perhaps supplements shouldn’t be completely dismissed. (And perhaps more research is necessary.)




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  7. We need about 50 trace elements–like copper, boron, selenium, chromium, vanadium, strontium, etc. We also might rely upon thousands of phytonutrients, including many that haven’t even been discovered yet. To simply say nutrients declined 15% is completely useless. It all depends upon which nutrients were studied and how much each particular nutrient dropped. Furthermore, any such study is highlly subject to design flaws, choice of nutrients, choice of locations, choice of vegetables studied, changes in watering, soil pH, and dozens–no, hundreds–of variables. Please do not give us such a gross oversimplification. Nutrition isn’t rocket science…it’s much harder to get right.
    BTW, I grow many of my own vegetables & fruits, and I add rock dust (Azomite brand) to boost the trace elements. Further, I’m lucky enough to live an hour’s drive from a clean coastal area, so I harvest my own seaweed (to dry & eat) each summer for further variety of trace elements.




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