A dietary supplement, also known as food supplement or nutritional supplement, is a preparation intended to supplement the diet and provide nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids, which may be missing or may not be consumed in sufficient quantities in a person's diet.
People often use vitamins and minerals to supplement diet and treat disease. For example, echinacea may keep you from getting a cold and may help you get better faster. High doses of vitamin C may also help you get better faster.
Historically, people have used herbal medicines to prevent illness, cure infection, reduce fever, and heal wounds. Herbal medicines can also treat constipation, ease pain, or act as relaxants or stimulants. Research on some herbs and plant products has shown that they may have some of the same effects that conventional medicines do, while others may have no effect or may be harmful.
A nutraceutical is a food with a medical-health benefit, including the prevention and treatment of disease. It is a combination of the words "nutrition" and "pharmaceutical". The term was coined in the late 1980s by Stephen DeFelice, M.D., founder and chairman of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine, who defined it as "any substance that is a food or a part of a food and provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease". Health Canada defines nutraceutical as "a product isolated or purified from foods, and generally sold in medical forms not usually associated with food and demonstrate to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease."
Such foods also commonly are referred to as functional foods, signifying they and/or their components may provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition. Examples include fruits and vegetables as well as fortified or enhanced foods. While all foods are functional in that they provide nutrients, Nutraceuticals contain health-promoting ingredients or natural components that have a potential health benefit for the body. "Functional" attributes of many traditional foods are being discovered, while new food products are being developed with beneficial components.
Nutraceuticals come from plant, marine, animal, and microbial sources. Specifically, Nutraceuticals include whole foods, food additives, herbs, Phytonutrient (nutrients found in the skin of many vegetables and fruits, as well as in grains, seeds and plants), probiotic, and vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements.
Nutraceuticals are prescribed because a healthy diet is hard to find. Many people like to think that they eat a healthy diet. They think they have everything their bodies need for good health. Studies have shown that many people can describe a healthy diet. But when they write down what they actually eat, it's not a nutritionally complete diet.
Supplemental nutrition is needed because most people do not eat an ideal diet. Over time, our body will begin to show the effects of a less-than-perfect diet. Feeling tired or having colds too often are some of the signals of nutritional deficiencies in our body tissues. Regular joint stiffness and body aches can also be signs of decreased nutritional health. When we are faced with extra challenges like injury or surgery, Nutraceuticals are a quick and reliable way to flood our system with nutrient. For a short time, we will get all you need to restore, repair, and return to excellent health.
Supplemental Nutraceuticals work by giving you extra nutrition. Whenever your diet is not able to meet all the nutrients needed by your body, supplemental nutrients may be helpful. Illness, injury, or extra hard work can increase the amount of nutrients your body needs. Nutrients are the chemical elements that make up a food. Nutrients are the basic elements of what you eat that give your body what is needed for running the show, this process is what we call metabolism.
Certain nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins give us energy. Other nutrients like water, electrolytes, minerals, and vitamins are needed for healthy metabolism. Metabolism is the work your body does to change the food you eat into the tissues and organs of your body. Metabolic processes help the body make hormones and other chemical messengers. These products of metabolism signal your organs to work properly. Metabolism also refers to the way your cells change the chemical energy in nutrients into mechanical energy or heat. Metabolism is the work of the cells, fluids, tissues, and organs of your body.
You have a health problem. For this example, we'll say it's like having a house on fire. The goal is to put out the fire. You have a line of people, passing buckets of water to toss on the fire. These are like the nutrients that do the work of metabolism. If there are not enough people in the line to stretch between the water source and the fire, then the process will not be complete. In our example, this means the fire will burn up the house. What if you have some, but not quite enough of the proper elements of nutrition? You may not heal a wound, or repair an injury as well or as soon as you could. If you had all the nutrients you needed for the job, then wound healing and tissue repair would go faster.
Good health and proper function requires a good diet. It must contain all the elements of metabolism needed to do the job. A person who is climbing a mountain will need to metabolize more than a person sitting at a desk all day. A person who is healing from surgery needs extra nutrition to meet the demands of tissue repair.
We should use Nutraceuticals when your diet does not give you all the nutrition needed for your situation. Different life events need varied nutritional support. People have high level of LDL or Triglycerides may consider taking Omega3 instead of statin drugs. Omega-3 fatty acids are compounds occurring naturally in cold water fish, such as cod, tuna and salmon. The health benefits of this naturally occurring compound were uncovered when studying the low rates of heart disease in Eskimo native Americans, whose diet includes a proportionately high amount of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. In 2004, the FDA released a statement acknowledging the benefits of these compounds in a person's regular diet, including helping reduce cholesterol.
We know that know that a pregnant woman needs to eat more. Pregnancy is a state that requires better nutrition for a better outcome. We know that if a woman does not have enough folic acid, she is much more likely to have a baby with certain birth defects. Too much of something can be as bad as not enough. A woman who eats too much sugar when she is pregnant can develop a kind of diabetes that will also make her baby sick at birth. This is called gestational diabetes. It increases the child's risk of being overweight. The child is also at greater risk of diabetes as an adult.
In the same way, many other situations require better nutrition for a better end result. If you are injured, you need more nutrition to give your body the raw materials it needs to rebuild your damaged tissues. If you are sick with an infection, you need extra dietary chemistry to help your immune system. Good nutrition helps the immune system fight the virus or bacteria that is making you sick. And if you are having an operation, you will have an injury that needs to be repaired.
Inflammation is part of chronic conditions like arthritis and degenerative disc disease. The inflammatory process can result in destructive, painful diseases. Inflammation is caused in part by poor nutrition. Correcting your nutritional intake can relieve it. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone is weakened because of nutritional deficiency. Taking supplemental minerals and vitamins can help improve the strength of brittle bones.
Once a disease is started, it is very hard for most people to eat enough of the right foods and to digest them properly to help. It takes a special effort to get the extra nutrition needed to get over an illness. Dietary supplements are used like medicine in this case. They are used to get the needed doses of nutrition in the right amounts required for healing damaged tissue.
Spine surgery requires a lot of blood building. Your nutrition is the source of all the chemistry you need to make new red blood cells. You will have an excited immune system with a lot of work to do to protect you and help you recover. You will need an extra supply of nutritional elements to help you replace the blood you lost during surgery.
At this point, there have been years of research on this topic. Medical researchers have published many thousands of articles. They tell us how individual nutrients and herbal medicines work in the bodies of animals and humans.
This research is carried out in the same way that drugs are studied. There are strengths and weaknesses in using this method to figure out how any substance will work in the human body. We can study how a single chemical will affect a human cell. That information helps us make a reasonable decision about whether it will be useful for that cell's function or not.
We can also study how having too much or not enough of a certain substance affects large groups of people. This includes vitamins or minerals or a certain dietary item like fat. We know that groups of people who do not have enough of the mineral selenium in their diet get sick more often with everything from infections to cancer. These studies do not tell us if a particular person is sick because they do not have enough selenium. The study only suggests that if that person is part of the group of people studied, there is a good chance they are low in selenium. This puts them at risk of being sick more often. Common sense tells us that selenium is an important nutrient for protection against disease for all people.
In the same way, research has shown that people with the brittle weak bones of osteoporosis can be helped by supplements. These are used to rebuild and restore the strength of their bones. Minerals and vitamins containing calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D, and L-lysine are used.
Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate are two more nutritional elements. They can be used to build connective tissue like the cartilage that cushions your joints. Studies have shown positive results for people with osteoarthritis of the hands, hips, knees, jaw, and lower back. They get relief from painful symptoms when they take regular doses of chondroitin and glucosamine sulfate.
No drug or herb is a single, simple chemical item. And no single item, like Vitamin E for instance, can be swallowed by two different people and be digested and absorbed in exactly the same way. There is actually no way we can know exactly what a single chemical, drug, vitamin, mineral, or herb is going to do in any one person's body. It all depends on how a person digests things. How well their liver and kidneys work makes a difference. And they must have all the other chemical elements that the pill they are taking needs in order to work once inside the body.
Research has given medical specialists a general idea about what amounts of different nutrients will be helpful to most people. It makes sense to take recommended amounts of Nutraceuticals. This is especially true in situations where you know you will need to fight infection or heal a wound. In fact Nutraceuticals can help your body face any extra stress on your system.
Eating healthy and adding Nutraceuticals will make sure you have all the raw materials you need. This combination will help you repair everyday wear and tear. It gives your body a much better chance to deal with damage from disease, accidental injuries, or surgery.
A healthy diet and the right Nutraceuticals will:
Help you control chemical irritants inflaming your tissues
Reduce nerve pain stimulation
Decrease tightening and stiffening of muscles, connective tissue, and joints
Make sure you have all the raw materials you need to heal a wound or prevent loss of bone or tissue function
We're all unique individuals and no two people respond to any particular diet the same way. Find the one that you feel best with from among the many worthwhile ideas out there, and stay away from gimmicks. What's most important about any diet, though, is to get an abundance of antioxidants from raw fruits and vegetables and other minimally-processed foods.
Free radicals are formed as part of our natural metabolism but also by environmental factors, including smoking, pesticides, pollution and radiation. Free radicals are unstable molecules which react easily with essential molecules of our body, including DNA, fat and proteins. All organic and inorganic materials consist of atoms, which can be bound together to form molecules. Each atom has a specific number of protons (positively charged) and electrons (negatively charged). Most single atoms are not stable because they have to few or to may electrons. Atoms try to reach a state of maximum stability by giving away or receiving electrons from other atoms, thereby forming molecules. Free radicals are molecules which have one electron too much or too less in order to be stable. Free radicals try to steal or give electrons to other molecules, thereby changing their chemical structure.
When a free radical attacks a molecule, it will then become a free radical itself, causing a chain reaction which can result in the destruction of a cell. Antioxidants have the property to neutralize free radicals without becoming free radicals themselves. When antioxidants neutralize free radicals by receiving or donating an electron they do not become antioxidants themselves because they are stable in both forms. In other words, antioxidants are chemicals that offer up their own electrons to the free radicals, thus preventing cellular damage. However, when the antioxidant neutralizes a free radical it becomes inactive. Therefore we need to continuously supply our body with antioxidants. The action of free radicals could increase the risk of diseases such as cancer and heart problems and could accelerate ageing. Antioxidants have the property to neutralize the free radicals and prevent damage. Well known examples of antioxidants are the vitamin C, E and beta-carotene. These three vitamins are often added to the so called ACE drinks. There are numerous other rather less known antioxidants such as lycopene, lutein.
Antioxidants are phytochemicals, vitamins and other nutrients that protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. In vitro en in vivo studies have shown that antioxidants help prevent the free radical damage that is associated with cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants can be found in most fruits and vegetables but also culinary herbs and medicinal herbs can contain high levels of antioxidants. Dragland S and colleagues showed in their study entitled "Several Culinary and Medicinal Herbs are Important Sources of Dietary Antioxidants", and published in the Journal of Nutrition (2003 May) that the antioxidant level of herbs can be as high as 465 mmol per 100 g.
A study in 2006 by Thompson HJ showed that a botanical diversity of fruits and vegetables plays a role in the biological effect of antioxidant phytochemicals. The consumption of smaller quantities of many phytochemicals may result in more health benefits than the consumption of larger quantities of fewer phytochemicals.
Antioxidants help keep you young and prevent disease. The primary use your body has for antioxidants is to protect your cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive oxygen molecules created as a byproduct of your metabolism, and are considered a primary cause of aging.
Protecting yourself against free radicals with antioxidants is the most effective way to reduce the risk of many health problems associated with aging, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, cataracts and macular degeneration, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and others.
The antioxidant network could be compared to a football team. A football team has many players, and each player has their own specific role in executing a play. You need all the members to do their specialized jobs, in sequence. If you're missing the left guard or wide receiver, for example, the play won't work as well as it could. Every individual is important.
Antioxidants work best as a team. You get better results with moderate amounts of many different antioxidants than you'd get using very large amounts of just one. That would be like fielding a football team using eleven quarterbacks - you wouldn't expect things to work as well. That's why you want to get many different members of the antioxidant family working together for you.
Combinations of antioxidants work better. All fruits and vegetables contain many different Phytonutrient all on their own. These nutrients are designed by nature to work together in your body, and research studies have backed this up, showing that antioxidants are much more powerful when they are consumed in combinations.
Antioxidants that we get from our food:
Vitamin A and Carotenoids, which are found in carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apples.
Vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits, green peppers, leafy green vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes.
Vitamin E, which is found in nuts and seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and liver oil.
Selenium, which is found in fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic.
Some other common antioxidants include:
Flavoniods and polyphenols, which are found in soy, red wine, purple and red grapes, pomegranates, cranberries and tea.
Lycopene, which is found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon.
Lutein, which is found in dark green vegetables such as kale, kiwi, broccoli, brussels sprouts and spinach.
Lignan, which is found in flax seed, oatmeal, barley and rye.
Antioxidants that are manufactured in our body:
Antioxidant enzymes that are produced by your body, including superoxide dismutase and glutathione. In order to produce these enzymes, you need nutritional building blocks such as manganese, zinc, iron, copper and selenium which we get from our diet. Other antioxidants produced in our body include: Coenzyme Q-10 and lipoic acid. However, our body makes less as we get older, just when we need these more than ever.
Glutathione, sometimes called the Master Antioxidant, is the most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in our body. It's an important member of the antioxidant network family that includes lipoic acid, CoQ-10, vitamin C and vitamin E.
Coenzyme Q-10 is one of the most important nutrients for good heart health and a strong cardiovascular system. It is also invaluable for its ability to regenerate other members of the antioxidant network; specifically, glutathione, vitamin E and vitamin C. Like vitamin E, CoQ-10 protects lipids, proteins and DNA from oxidative stress.
Alpha Lipoic Acid unique properties is that it is both fat- and water-soluble, so it can be found in almost every area of your body, which is why it is sometimes called the universal antioxidant. It is a antioxidant powerhouse. This super-antioxidant breaks many of the rules regarding antioxidant behavior. It has the unique ability to replenish itself - the only antioxidant that has this property. Alpha Lipoic Acid is an anti-aging, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouse, with 400 times the antioxidant strength of vitamin E and C combined.
Oxidative Stress (OS) is a general term used to describe the steady state level of oxidative damage in a cell, tissue, or organ, caused by the reactive oxygen species (ROS). This damage can affect a specific molecule or the entire organism. Reactive oxygen species, such as free radicals and peroxides, represent a class of molecules that are derived from the metabolism of oxygen and exist inherently in all aerobic organisms.
There are several sources by which the reactive oxygen species are generated. Most reactive oxygen species come from the endogenous sources as by-products of normal and essential metabolic reactions, such as energy generation from mitochondria or the detoxification reactions involving the liver cytochrome P-450 enzyme system. Sources of oxidative stress, and the free radical reaction that causes it, are all around us. They fall into the following general categories:
Environmental toxins and pollution
Pesticides and herbicides
Processed foods and food additives
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun
Oxidative stress may be the sole cause of some diseases, but more often it weakens your immune system and makes your body vulnerable to diseases caused by other factors. Oxidation may also worsen existing conditions and slow down the healing process:
The truth is that there's almost no common disease that is not associated with oxidative stress. This includes all of the major degenerative diseases we have today:
Anti-aging refers exclusively to slowing, preventing, or reversing the aging process. Of course, the signs of aging include not only wrinkles, but also memory loss, decreased brain function, and an increasing risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. Healthy aging is also defined as living a longer, healthier life. And many studies have documented the link between a healthy diet and prevention of age-related or chronic diseases.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, adequate rest, avoiding tobacco, and a diet full of healthy foods and beverages can be the best defense against aging.
"Dietary choices are critical to delay the onset of aging and age-related diseases, and the sooner you start, the greater the benefit," says Susan Moores, RD, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.
Things that change in the body due to aging process?
We expect to find a few more wrinkles and grey hairs each time we look in the mirror. These are just some of the changes we are likely to notice as you get older. We are not necessarily at the mercy of Mother Nature. Here is a list of common aging-related changes and what we can do to promote good health at any age.
Your cardiovascular system
Over time, our heart muscle becomes less efficient working harder to pump the same amount of blood through our body. In addition, our blood vessels lose some of their elasticity and hardened fatty deposits may form on the inner walls of our arteries (atherosclerosis). These changes make our arteries stiffer, causing our heart to work even harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular problems.
What we can do about it. To promote heart health, include physical activity in our daily routine. Try walking, swimming or other physical activities. Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you quit. Your risk of heart disease will begin to fall almost immediately.
Your bones, joints and muscles
With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density which weakens them and makes them more susceptible to fracture. We might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength and flexibility, and we may become less coordinated or have trouble balancing.
What we can do about it. Include plenty of calcium and vitamin D in our diet. Build bone density with weight-bearing activities, such as walking. Consider strength training at least twice a week, too. By stressing our bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Building muscle also protects our joints from injury and helps maintain flexibility and balance.
Your digestive system
Constipation is more common in older adults. Many factors can contribute to constipation, including a low-fiber diet, not drinking enough fluids and lack of exercise. Various medications, including diuretics and iron supplements, may contribute to constipation. Certain medical conditions, including diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome, may increase the risk of constipation as well.
What you can do about it. To prevent constipation, drink water and other fluids and eat a healthy diet - including plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Don't ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. If you're taking medications that may contribute to constipation, ask your doctor about alternatives.
Your bladder and urinary tract
Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) is common with aging. Health problems such as obesity, frequent constipation and chronic cough may contribute to incontinence - as can menopause, for women, and an enlarged prostate, for men.
What you can do about it.Urinate more often. If you're overweight, lose excess pounds. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you quit. Pelvic muscle exercises (Kegel exercises) might help, too. Simply tighten your pelvic muscles as if you're stopping your stream of urine. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day. If these suggestions don't help, ask your doctor about other treatment options.
Memory tends to becomes less efficient with age, as the number of cells (neurons) in the brain decreases. It may take longer to learn new things or remember familiar words or names.
What you can do about it. To keep our memory sharp, we should include physical activity in our daily routine and eat a healthy diet. It's also helpful to stay mentally and socially active. If you're concerned about memory loss, consult your doctor.
Your eyes and ears
With age, the eyes are less able to produce tears, the retinas thin, and the lenses gradually become less clear. Focusing on objects that are close up may become more difficult. We may become more sensitive to glare and have trouble adapting to different levels of light. Our hearing may dim somewhat as well. We may have difficulty hearing high frequencies or following a conversation in a crowded room.
What you can do about it. Schedule regular vision and hearing exams - then follow your doctor's advice about glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and other corrective devices. To prevent further damage, wear sunglasses when you're outdoors and use earplugs when you're around loud machinery or other loud noises.
Our mouth may begin to feel drier and our gums may pull back (recede) from our teeth. With less saliva to wash away bacteria, our teeth and gums become slightly more vulnerable to decay and infection. Our teeth also may darken slightly and become more brittle and easier to break.
What you can do about it.Brush your teeth twice a day and clean between your teeth - using regular dental floss or an interdental cleaner - once a day. Visit your dentist or dental hygienist for regular dental checkups.
With age, your skin thins and becomes less elastic and more fragile. We may notice that we bruise more easily. Decreased production of natural oils may make our skin drier and more wrinkled. Age spots can occur, and small growths called skin tags are more common.
What you can do about it.Bathe in warm not hot water, and use mild soap and moisturizer. When you're outdoors, use sunscreen and wear protective clothing. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking contributes to skin damage, such as wrinkling.
Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if you're overweight is more difficult as you get older. Muscle mass tends to decrease with age, which leads to an increase in fat. Since fat tissue burns fewer calories than does muscle, you may need to reduce the number of calories in your diet or increase your physical activity simply to maintain your current weight.
What you can do about it.To prevent unwanted weight gain, include physical activity in your daily routine and eat a healthy diet. Also keep an eye on portion sizes. You might not need to eat as much as you used to.
With age, sexual needs, patterns and performance may change. Illness or medication may affect your ability to enjoy sex. For women, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable. For men, impotence may become a concern. It may take longer to get an erection, and erections may not be as firm as they used to be.
What you can do about it. Share your needs and concerns with your partner. You might experiment with different positions or sexual activities. Be open with your doctor, too. He or she may offer specific treatment suggestions - such as estrogen cream for vaginal dryness or oral medication for erectile dysfunction.
We Don't Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables. Statistics show that very few people in western cultures eat six or more servings of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, as recommended. These are the best sources of antioxidants in your diet.
Overeating - Another of the Major Causes of Aging. Another factor in increased free radical production is the fact that many of us eat more calories than we need. Food requires oxygen to convert it into energy. The more you eat, the more oxygen is used, and the more free radicals are produced.
This theory is clearly demonstrated by the numerous "calorie-restriction" studies. Laboratory animals live longer and healthier lives by eating a nutrient-dense diet with 40-50 percent fewer calories. With less food to metabolize, fewer free radicals are produced.
The growing rate of degenerative diseases in our culture today points to an epidemic of antioxidant deficiencies. The human body evolved while eating a lot more food, especially fruits and vegetables, combined with a strenuous lifestyle. Today, we live a relatively sedate lifestyle, combined with less nutritious food.
Due to the growing use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, modern crops are being harvested earlier than ever before. That means produce has less time to absorb nutrients from the soil, and chemical fertilizers often interfere with a plant's ability to take up those nutrients.
Selective breeding to increase crop yield has led to declines in the nutritional value in typical factory-farmed fruits and vegetables. It has been documented that the average vegetable found in today's supermarket is anywhere from 5 to 40 percent lower in minerals (including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc) than those harvested just 50 years ago.
Eating Organically Helps. According to the Journal of Applied Nutrition, organically-grown fruits and vegetables have significantly higher nutritional content than conventional produce: "Organically grown apples, wheat, sweet corn, potatoes and pears were examined over a 2 year period and were 63% higher in calcium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 178% higher in molybdenum, 91% higher in phosphorus, 125% higher in potassium and 60% in zinc than conventionally grown produce."
Some of your ability to protect yourself from oxidative stress is determined by the genes you inherited. Each individual body has a different capacity to produce antioxidant enzymes than will defend against free radical attacks. This is one explanation of why things like certain diseases and lifespan sometimes "runs in the family."
However, only about 10-20 percent of your rate of aging is dependent on your genes. The rest has to do with your diet and lifestyle choices. This means that you are in control of most aging factors.
Although you can't do anything about the genes you were born with, getting sufficient antioxidants can actually help your body overcome any handicaps you may have inherited. You see, antioxidants have to ability to control gene behavior. They have the ability to actually turn good genes on and bad ones off.
Not all ingredients either from food or supplements can be absorbed in the same way. It differs from individual to individual and the kind of nutrient. As we age our absorption capacity reduces. Our ability to absorb nutrients from the food we eat and the supplements we take may decrease between the ages of 40 to 60 years as much as 70-90%. Research on senior absorption characteristics indicates that reduced levels of digestive enzymes in our mouth, pancreas and intestines, coupled with reduced hydrochloric acid production in our stomach are culprits contributing to this condition. Even in younger certain nutrients are difficult to absorb. Hundreds of research institutes are searching for the solution around the globe. In younger age it is difficult to absorb many of the ingredients for example Vitamin B12, Iron, Zinc are few of the examples.
In one way it is good that our gastrointestinal system do not absorb everything that we consume. For example, If our system absorbs all the calcium we eat every day our body will undergo calcification. There are certain advantages and disadvantages of nutrients absorbed in our body.
New technologies and research in science have found many solutions to solve the problem of absorption. Minerals are now chelated with amino acids for better absorptions. Sublingual, lozenges of Zinc and Vitamin B12 are made, so that it can absorbed directly in the mouth and do not have any need to go through digestive system. Many of the herbs and nutraceuticals are made with medium chain triglycerides for better absorption. The old Coenzyme Q10, Ubiquinon is now replaced with Ubiquinol which is eight times more absorbed (bio-available) than the earlier one. Some products are much better absorbed in liquid form (like L-Carnitine).
Do we lack nutrition in our daily diet?
Do we get all the nutrition from our diet?
All though people eat proper food they may require supplements. The reason is much of the nutrition ingredient is destroyed while cooking. Storage of food is also a major cause of reduction in nutrition value of foods. Food preparation and storage methods decrease some nutrients by as much as 30%. Due to the growing use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, modern crops are being harvested earlier than ever before. That means produce has less time to absorb nutrients from the soil, and chemical fertilizers often interfere with a plant's ability to take up those nutrients. For example the Selenium content of plants, in particular cereal grains, is strongly influenced by the quantity of biologically available Selenium in the soil in which they grow, that is, by their geographical origin. As a result, according to USDA, the Selenium content of fruits and vegetables is normally very low. Selective breeding to increase crop yield has led to declines in the nutritional value in typical factory-farmed fruits and vegetables. It has been documented that the average vegetable found in today's supermarket is anywhere from 5 to 40 percent lower in minerals (including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc) than those harvested just 50 years ago.
Whether we need vitamin supplements or not depends on our lifestyle. If we live a healthy life, with minimum exposure to radiation, toxic chemicals, pollution and eat a balanced diet of wide variety of fresh organic food, we may not require food supplements after all. However we are far from it. A good lifestyle is just a goal, that we try to reach, but as for now, there is no one how can sign up as a fully healthy one.
On the contrary, we are too busy to cook for ourselves or prepare a healthy balanced diet, consume refined foods more often than fresh foods, feel tired all the time, suffer from high stress level and weak immune function, food supplements may be beneficial to us. The bottom line is that our food may not always provide the level of nutrients that we hope or expect they will.
More and more people today consume a vegetarian diet. They do it for religious, ethical, and/or health reasons. Some people just 'don't like meat.'
Vegetarian diets may be low in protein, iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin B12. Protein is abundant in eggs and milk, but there is a significant amount in dried beans, soy products, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and many vegetables. Animal foods are richly supplied with iron, zinc and calcium, and they are found in plant foods too, but their absorption is reduced by phytic acid in whole grains and legumes and oxalic acid in green vegetables and soybeans. Vitamin B12 does not exist in non-animal foods, but certain soy milks and cereals are B12 fortified. A vegetarian should eat fortified foods and take a multivitamin-mineral supplement.
Most vegetarians complain they do not get enough minerals. Vegeterian diet is rich in fibre which indirectly reduces the absorption of minerals hence the minerals contained in vegetables is absorbed 20 -25% specially zinc. In meat minerals are molecularly bonded with amino acids and hence fetch much higher absorption.
Vegetarian food is practically absent of the long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA that are extra important for good health. These are often missing since they mainly come from fish. Women who are vegetarians have less DHA in their mother's milk than none-vegetarians. They can have as little as 0.05 percent compared to Inuit women who have 1.40 percent, this is 28 times as much. Chinese women on the island Zhangzi have up to 2.78 percent DHA in their milk.
* Disclaimer: Statements made, or products sold through this web site, have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.