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Why You Need Nutrition Supplements

By Karen Myers
Copyright © 2006 All Rights Reserved

Nutrition supplements are an important part of healthy living in today's fast paced world. Even if you are eating a balanced diet, here's why you may need nutritional supplementation, and why in some cases, you might be overdoing it.

A Few Quick Nutrition Facts

Did you know that 98% of the population are not getting the nutrients their bodies need on a daily basis? You may be eating plenty of food, but not eating the right foods that give your body the nutrients you need, combined with physical exercise, to be healthy.

Pregnancy, illness, injury, surgery or emotional upsets (read stress), are just a few of the many factors that can change our body's nutrition requirements.

It's important to note that a single nutrient deficiency can endanger the whole body. For example, lack of almost any of the B complex vitamins leads to the mishandling of blood sugar in the body. Mental symptoms of Vitamin B deficiencies are many, and are probably the first signs to appear.

Equally important, while you do need enough nutrients, too much of some nutrients can also cause problems. Example: it is inadvisable to take a supplement of any single one of the B complex vitamins on their own. They all interact in the body, and a sudden excess of one can create a greater need for the others, therefore creating a deficiency.

In nature, most of the commonly used foods which contain one B vitamin, contain them all... (just one more reason we believe the best liquid vitamins come from all-natural whole food sources).

Also, to be effective, nutrition supplements need to be synergistically balanced. Example: a specific amount of vitamin B6 is required for proper absorption of vitamin B12. If you don't have the correct combination, you could end up with a serious neurological disorder. Did you know that inorganic iron can completely destroy the beneficial effects of vitamin E? Care must be taken in formulating a nutritional supplement. Unfortunately, many manufacturers don't realize the danger certain combinations can create.

What Is A Dietary Supplement?

Congress defined the term "dietary supplement" in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to supplement the diet.

The "dietary ingredients" in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites. Dietary supplements can also be extracts or concentrates, and may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids, or powders. They can also be in other forms, such as a bar, but if they are, information on their label must not represent the product as a conventional food or a sole item of a meal or diet.

Whatever their form may be, DSHEA places dietary supplements in a special category under the general umbrella of "foods," not drugs, and requires that every supplement be labeled a dietary supplement.

General Uses for Dietary Supplements

Thousands of scientific studies have been published proving that nutritional supplements can have a dramatic impact on your health.

According to the USA Government website by NIH, some uses of dietary supplements have become part of conventional medicine (see this USA Government site for details).

And some supplements are considered to be complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) -- either the supplement itself or one or more of its uses. An example of a CAM supplement would be an herbal formula that claims to relieve arthritis pain, but has not been proven to do so through scientific studies. Another example of a CAM use of a supplement would be taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day to prevent or treat a cold, as the use of large amounts of vitamin C for these purposes has not been proven.

Tips for Using Supplements

It's always important to check with your doctor or healthcare provider before using a supplement, particularly for certain population groups. Examples... if you;

  • are pregnant
  • nursing a baby
  • have a chronic medical condition
  • are taking medications, and/or
  • facing surgery.
While vitamin and mineral supplements are widely used and generally considered safe for children, you may wish to check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving these or any other dietary supplements to your child.

Also, Dietary Guidelines for Americans is published jointly every 5 years by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Guidelines provide authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health.