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Nutritional Supplementation- Do You Need Them?

September 24, 2010

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Nutritional deficiencies are a dime a dozen these days. More and more people are finding out that they are deficient in one or maybe a few of the essential nutrients that our bodies need to function properly. The reason: our diet. The food we eat today is not the same as it was 100 years ago. Today we go to a fast food chain and grab a cheeseburger, French fries and a coke whereas in olden times the farmer would have to butcher the cow to get the meat for the wife to cook, the wife would pick the vegetables from her garden and she would prepare a home cooked meal from the heat of her hearth. The nutritional value of food today is so inadequate that it causes symptoms of obesity, fatigue, and weakness and leaves us at risk for several chronic, and systematic diseases.

            Although, most people know that fast food, junk food, and restaurant foods are unhealthy, they still eat there. If they didn’t McDonalds wouldn’t be the number one fast food restaurant in the world. People love the taste of foods that are greasy, fried and sugar filled. So if we are unable to give up our fast food ways, how are people going to get their essential nutrients?

            Nutritional supplementation has been around for sometime and has really started to become popular with the recent influx of obesity, chronic and health related diseases. Whether you choose not to change your diet or you live in an area where you lack the resources for essential nutrients or you need build up your essential nutrients because you were lacking, nutritional and dietary supplementation has become a huge market worldwide. There are thousands upon thousands of nutritional products on the market today.

            In the United States nutritional supplementation is regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) although they under different guidelines than regular food and drugs. A dietary supplement is defined by its ingredients such as a vitamin, mineral, herb, botanical, amino acid, concentrate, metabolite, constituent, or extract. In addition supplementation must be intended for ingestion through pill, capsule, tablet, powder or liquid form and be labeled as a dietary supplement. Nutritional supplements do not need to be pre-approved by the FDA before entering the market and as long as the manufacturer does not make claims about their products treating, preventing or curing diseases, the FDA cannot exert authority over supplementation. With that being said the quality of some dietary supplements are not what they say they are and false labeling is not uncommon. Therefore acquiring your nutritional supplementation from your physician is recommended to get the highest and best quality.

            So what types of supplements do you need and where can you get them? Without specific testing for nutritional deficiency there is no exact way to tell what types of nutritional supplementation you should take. However, due to the lack of nutritional value in the food that most people eat today, taking a multivitamin and fish oil is a smart choice. There are tons of different brands of multivitamins that come in a variety of pills, tablets, powders and liquids. Always check the ingredient list before taking a multivitamin. Make sure that the ingredients don’t include any additives or color dye. In addition finding a fish oil (omega 3, 6, 9) that doesn’t have a fishy taste or smell can be difficult. Check with your nutritionist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, herbalist or medical doctor for recommendations on brands. Other frequent deficiencies include vitamin B12 and B complex, which help regulate brain and nervous system function. Additionally vitamin D has become a common deficiency due to the lack of sun, because people work long hours and don’t go outside.

The best nutritional supplements are easily absorbed into the body. They don’t have additives, flavors, dyes or coloring, and have very few ingredients, mainly the vitamin, mineral, or supplement that you are deficient in. Avoid supplements with a long list of ingredients that you have never heard of. If you have questions about ingredients, check with your physician before buying the supplement.