These are just some of the questions people may have regarding nutritional supplementation and the purpose of this article is to answer some of these questions.
There are many different types of nutritional products available today and the health and wellness industry is one of the fastest growing industries at the present time. This is due to many factors including the rise in obesity and the increasing numbers of individuals being diagnosed with degenerative diseases.
It is sometimes believed (especially amongst older generations) that eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly is sufficient to maintain good health, but there is also the conflicting argument that without supplementation, many people’s intake of vital nutrients falls far short of their body’s requirements.
Before I discuss these issues, I would first like to give a brief overview of some of the nutrients that the human body needs to function correctly:
Firstly there are the macronutrients. Macronutrients include Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. At the most simplified level, carbohydrates provide our bodies with energy, proteins are responsible for building and repairing muscle tissue and fats provide additional energy reserves and allow for the transportation of micronutrients around the body. Fats are also necessary for the production of certain hormones.
Secondly there are micronutrients. Micronutrients include vitamins (also known as anti-oxidants) and minerals. Each vitamin (A, B12, C, D, E, K, etc.) and mineral (Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, etc.) performs a specific role within the body and they are all required for good bodily function. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals have been identified as one of the primary factors in the development of degenerative disease, as vitamins in particular are responsible for the removal of free radicals within the body.
Free radicals are harmful molecules, which are produced by chemical reactions within the human body, as well as by factors in our external environment. They attack healthy cells causing them to break down (degenerate), potentially leading to the development of degenerative disease in the long term.
As an example, it has been suggested that in order to promote optimum health, 400 IU (International Units) of vitamin E should be consumed on a daily basis. To put this into context, an individual would have to consume 14.5 kg of spinach each day to achieve this level. Alternatively, 1kg or almonds would provide the same oxidative defence for the human cells. This example should highlight that it is very difficult to consume 400 IU of vitamin E without incorporating nutritional supplementation. This value is significantly higher than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for a number of reasons: