More Complementary & Integrative Healthcare Articles
Do We Really Need Supplements?
What Are Supplements?
Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, herbs, and many other products. They include pills, capsules, powders, drinks, and energy bars.
Supplements are available without a prescription and usually come in pill, powder or liquid form. Common supplements include vitamins, minerals and herbal products, also known as botanicals.
Why Do We Need Supplements?
In a perfect world, a healthy, balanced diet should supply the body with sufficient nutrients to carry out routine tasks. A balanced diet includes foods from five groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. Unfortunately, the nature of modern farming practice is that the quality of vitamins and minerals in the soil has been gradually degraded over hundreds of years, so there is a decreasing amount of these vital micro-nutrients in the foods we eat. Studies shows that supplements such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and phytochemicals enrich the body’s internal environment to fortify cellular protection, repair, and regeneration and support the renewal process.
What Are Some Other Reasons People Use Supplements?
People use dietary supplements for a wide variety of reasons. Generally, prevention of ailments, treatment of health conditions and maintenance of health are the reasons people take supplements. Some seek to compensate for diets, medical conditions, or eating habits that limit the intake of essential vitamins and nutrients. Other people use them to boost energy or to get a good night’s sleep. Postmenopausal women consider using them to counter a sudden drop in estrogen levels. The most common reasons include:
- Filling the Nutritional Gap – Supplements bridge the nutritional gap so we can maintain a proper balance of nutrients.
- Poor Eating Habits – Erratic eating habits, eating processed junk food and stress contribute to poor digestion.
- Nutrient Absorption Decline With Age – Malabsorption becomes a problem as we age because our bodies do not have the same capability to breakdown and absorb nutrients with age.
- Exercise Increases Nutrient Needs – As we exercise, our bodies use more energy and nutrients to stay in shape.
- Harmful Chemicals – Pesticides and herbicides used to farm our foods, chemicals in our water supply impacts proper functioning.
- Prevent Health Issues – The medical community is shifting focus to prevention instead of treatment.
Dietary Supplements Are a Key Component Of Many Of Our Wellness Routines
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for vitamins and minerals have been the same since the early 1940s. As such, they are a bit outdated. Nutrition researchers of today generally agree that the RDAs fall far short when it comes to preventing chronic diseases, promoting vitality, and longevity. Vitamin and mineral insufficiencies could be the cause or at least a contributing factor to many of the health issues we deal with today including but not limited to depression and anxiety.
It’s always recommended that you discuss with your doctor what supplements you’re taking so your care can be integrated and managed. Dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as foods, not as drugs.