Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's the Word on Supplements?

Do you take supplements for preventative health measures? Many people do, and there has been an increase in consumers purchasing supplements over the last three decades. But do you know whether the dietary supplement you are taking is actually a quality product or right for you?

According to a recent study of multivitamin use among older women, these pills were found to do "nothing" to prevent heart disease or cancer. The study's lead author, researcher Marian Neuhouser of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, offered this advice: "Get nutrients from food. Whole foods are better than dietary supplements," Neuhouser said.

In general, we should be getting our nutrients from whole foods - and that's great advice. The problem is, many doctors, government agencies, and organizations who conduct studies on supplements fail to acknowledge the following factors:
  1. That the foods we eat are not as rich in naturally-occurring nutrients as they need to be for health due to processing, soil erosion, water, and air pollution. Because of this, people need supplementation in their diets.
  2. Supplements used by the majority of people are not of the high quality standard they should be in order to actually deliver results in fighting diseases like cancer and heart disease. When quality supplements used for the correct purpose are used, results are usually favorable - unfortunately, this is the exception rather than the rule.
  3. Many people take supplements without guidance or knowledge of the product's quality, efficacy, or appropriate use. Dietary supplements can be produced in many different ways and the manner in which the supplement is produced is of the utmost importance. For instance, many vitamin and nutrient supplements are synthetically produced in a laboratory without co-factors or phyto-nutrients present. The human body needs these substances to recognize and use vitamins and nutrients. Vitamins and nutrients taken in synthetically-produced solutions and supplements are not absorbed properly by the human body. Always choose whole-food, organically-produced products.
  4. A great deal of people who take dietary supplements are also taking pharmaceutical medications which always counteract the effectiveness of any natural supplement - and the body's ability to effectively use the supplement's nutrients or herbal qualities. Drugs are known to deplete the body of nutrients and immune system function. In many cases, natural supplements and a change in lifestyle - not drugs - can heal the body sufficiently. Proper guidance from a knowledgeable practitioner can ensure the success of your treatment.
If you are going to take a supplement, to avoid dangerous side-effects such as overdosing on a particular vitamin or mineral, wasting money on a product that is not quality or is not effective in alleviating your medical issue, always consult with a knowledgeable health care practitioner.

Medical doctors can be a good resource for this type of consultation, however, many medical doctors do not fully understand the tenets of nutrition in health and tend to prescribe drugs rather than take a natural approach to treatment.

Find a good practitioner who understands the human body's reaction to malnourishment - a problem experienced by more people than medical science cares to acknowledge in the modern world. Good practitioners for natural healing are the following: naturopathic, chiropractic, osteopathic, homeopathic, or Chinese Medicine practitioners. Do your research and make sure these individuals are well-versed in nutrition.

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