Before anyone gets the wrong idea, one of the above is optional, and the other is not. Most people can get by without supplements, even if they have to modify their diet. However, supplements aren’t meant to replace eating normal food, preferably as unrefined and whole as possible. Under medical supervision, supplements, similar to protein shakes, are sometimes used to replace a normal diet. For instance, this can be observed in weight loss through a “protein sparing fast,” or in cases where a patient can’t ingest sufficient solid calories. Even so, this is still considered to be a temporary measure.
No Supplement Is Truly Balanced
The human body requires several hundred different chemicals to function correctly — even if it only needs a tiny amount of some of them. While there are several kinds of supplements on the market, those derived from natural sources tend to contain a more complete range of nutrition. Nevertheless, no pill can claim to contain all the micronutrients that make up a healthy diet.
Phytonutrients, which can mean any chemical produced by a plant that has positive health effects on our bodies, are usually absorbed less efficiently from supplements than directly from their original sources. While some supplements contain dozens of types of these, there is a practical limit on how many can be included in any tablet. Some are found only in a very few types of food. They also tend to occur in certain combinations. The action of each of these phytochemicals may be mutually supported by its naturally associated counterparts. In addition, phytonutrients are essential to plant health, including their resistance to disease.
What Supplements Are Good For You
One of the benefits of supplements in capsule form is their longevity. Highly unsaturated fats such as fish and flax seed oil will tend to go rancid at room temperature. Although, it can be stored for years in capsule form when the active ingredients are kept separate from oxygen. This may not seem like an important issue. But, it can indeed matter to those with certain lifestyles, such as frequent travelers or others who aren’t able to exercise and control their diet on a daily basis.
Another factor to keep in mind is the greater concentrations that packaged supplements allow. This should be observed especially by someone who’s already suffering from a nutrient deficiency or those who are purposely taking unusually high amounts of nutrients such as vitamin C.
Acquiring the same amount of nutrition would have to mean eating an impractically large amount of certain foods. In the case of hard-training athletes who are vegetarians, they struggle to maintain healthy levels of B vitamins. In addition to older people or those with digestive issues, getting enough nutrients in unprocessed form can simply be impossible.
Alternatively, those with specific nutritional requirements such as folic acid for pregnant mothers or vitamin D for those at risk of osteoporosis, could choose to take a supplement in order to not worry further about that aspect of their diet.
Choosing a Supplement
If a person’s particular nutritional needs can’t be met through diet, there are few options other than going with a supplement. In this case, it is recommended to pay extra for an organic or naturally derived brand. Organic or naturally derived supplements contain specific forms of nutrients and micronutrients that are most easily absorbed by the body. Much of what a general-purpose multivitamin contains is never actually digested effectively and simply discarded as waste.
While this is a good reason to take information printed on the label with a pinch of salt, this does not mean that the published nutritional content should be ignored completely. A supplement which, for example, contains 500% of the cheaper RDA, can be more easily synthesized by the body, but may only contain a small amount of more expensive nutrients. This is most likely to happen if the consumer takes a lot of what they don’t need. They may be even more insufficient in addition to the food that they consume daily.