Is it theoretically possible that all the nutrition one needs (except protein and calories) in order to remain abundantly healthy throughout life could be packed into a single pill (or, barring this, several small pills)?
Are there essential factors that can not be extracted from foods and packed into pills? Theoretically speaking.
Furthermore, how much might a total-nutrition pill regimen cost, if everything necessary was packaged into one pill (or just a few) and shipped/marketed that way?
I don't believe that the optimal forms, co-factors, and bioavailability can be replicated with supplements. Magic pill syndrome and dietary reductionism have become so pervasive that many people now believe that junk food + multivitamin is equivalent to a healthy diet comprised of whole foods. It's not now, nor has it ever been, even remotely close.
Will not be possible. Nature evolved the complex synergistic relationships between our food and us (or any other life form) for specific reasons. Only humans would be so ego-centric, self centered and so full of hubris as to believe they could do better than Nature. In Nutritionism vs Nature, the only choice is Nature.
At this time definitely not. We aren't even close to understanding all the nutrients that we need to get from food IMO. Then there is the issue of how they are combined for best absorption, what ratios we need them in, etc. We aren't even close to being able to replicate that.
No way. I doubt this is ever possible. In many instances supplementation requires food for transport and absorption--not to mention the indigestion from taking supps on an empty stomach. Unless you're living in some soilant green type utopia novel I would think the pleasure/sociability of food would still trump the convenience of a superpill anyway.
Not a single pill.
The most nutrient-dense food I know of is grass-fed beef liver. If you dehydrate the liver (into sort of a jerky), grind it into a powder, and put it into capsules, I think you can fit about 2 ounces of beef liver into about 12 capsules.
That will get you most of the way to your daily nutritional needs. Add in a capsule of freeze-dried acerola cherry (for the vitamin C), and a capsule of azomite clay (for the minerals), and you'll have pretty much everything you need except for vitamin E and vitamin K. A teaspoon of red palm oil and a teaspoon of pastured butter can take care of that. (I guess you could also concentrate the vitamin E and vitamin K you need into another single pill.)
So I think the minimum number of standard-sized pills we're talking about in order to get a full day's worth of nutrition (other than calories and protein) is about 16. (The liver would only give you about 30% of the USRDA for protein.)