There's Supplementation and There's Smart Supplementation

Smart supplementation simply means knowing what we are doing when taking dietary supplements; and that is what this page is about.

But first,  since we are talking about dietary supplements, it would be prudent to revisit the required FDA disclaimer.  In fact, the following disclaimer covers, not only this section, but also the entire content of the Health-Choices-for-Life website.

NOTHING CONTAINED IN THIS SITE IS INTENDED TO REPLACE OR SUPERCEDE TRADITIONAL MEDICAL CARE, NOR SHOULD ANYTHING IN THIS SITE BE CONSTRUED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. NOTHING HEREIN, INCLUDING DISCUSSIONS OF DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS, NATURAL, ALTERNATIVE OR COMPLEMENTARY HEALTH CARE, IS PRESENTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PREVENTING, CURING, TREATING, MITIGATING OR DIAGNOSING ANY DISEASE CONDITION. NO STATEMENTS OR MATERIAL PRESENTED HEREIN HAVE BEEN EVALUATED OR APPROVED BY THE FDA. SELF-TREATMENT OF HEALTH CHALLENGES IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED UNLESS UNDERTAKEN WITH THE SUPERVISION OF A PROPERLY LICENSED MEDICAL PRACTITIONER.

Continuing on, a few of the major topics that are discussed throughout the website are touched on below. 

Note that a Google Search Box has been included below which will assist in finding specific topics on the site.  Just type an appropriate search term in the box and click on "Search".  The results will appear on a separate page.


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Interactions

Smart supplementation involves knowing that almost every supplement interacts with something and before swallowing handfuls of pills, it is advisable to know about those interactions.  Some interactions are desireable, even necessary; others can be very harmful and cause a host of unintended consequences.

Bioavailability

Smart supplementation means understanding bioavailability. 

The amount of a supplement we take and the amount that actually gets absorbed and used by our body can vary greatly depending on when the supplement is taken, how it is taken, whether or not we take it with or without food, whether the supplement is water soluble or fat soluble, our general state of health and a few others that will all be explored in detail.

Thus bioavailability refers to how much of the nutrient or supplement that gets absorbed and used.

Dosage and Timing

Whatever good results we hope to get from our supplements depends on the amount taken, when it's taken and how it's taken.  The phrase "too much of a good thing" comes to mind.

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In practice, the amount of a dietary supplement that we take should be considered in light of how much of that particular nutrient we get in our normal diet.

The Dietary Reference Intakes play into this nicely and, as a minimum, one should at least know where to find the DRI's and what they really mean.
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Some nutrients have no toxicity and thus no upper limit while others have very critical upper limits which, if exceeded over an extended period of time, could be fatal. 

So if a certain nutrient has well defined health benefits, overdosing on that "good thing" may in fact be "too much of a good thing".  Particular health issues can greatly increase the need for certain nutrients and thus call for a targeted smart supplementation.

It should be understood that nutrients are additive, whether from food or supplements, and we could unknowingly be exceeding an upper limit and exposing ourselves to the toxic effect of an overdose.

Essential or Non-Essential

Whether a nutrient is <a href="http://www.health-choices-for-life.com/essential_nutrients.html"><b>essential or non-essential</b></a> is also of great importance when consuming dietary supplements.   This just refers to our body being able to produce the nutrient from building blocks (non-essential) or being dependant on getting the nutrient strictly from food (essential). 

If our body is capable of manufacturing a particular nutrient from the components of its normal diet and we consume that same nutrient as a supplement, we could be setting ourselves up for a toxic overdose.

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Deficiencies

Smart supplementation means having an understanding of nutritional deficiencies and being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a deficiency.  In general, deficiencies tend to increase with age so this is another factor to consider. Conversely, it is wise to be knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms of an overdose of a particular nutrient.

Pillars of Nutrition

There are a handful of dietary supplements that are considered mandatory for the maintenance of optimal health.

We can think of them as the pillars that support a healthy, functioning body.  Another analogy is to visualize the pillars that support the roof of the Parthenon in Athens; start removing a pillar here and there and sooner or later the roof will fall in.

The Medical Community and the FDA

There are many health practitioners that take the position that dietary supplements are not necessary and a waste of money; that all we need to do is follow a balanced diet and we will get all the nutrients we need. 

Many medical providers base this conclusion on the fact that dietary supplements are not put through the same level of clinical testing as prescription drugs, nor are they approved by the FDA.

Dietary Supplements usually carry a statement to the effect that, "this product is not intended to mitigate, cure or treat any disease condition".  That statement is required by the FDA and while the stated intention may be accurate, the real life effects of smart supplementation just might be very different than the FDA would have us believe.

Given that, we will never claim that any specific dietary supplement will cure a disease but current research on specific nutrients pertinent to specific health conditions will be presented.  New findings on vitamin D3 and vitamin C are good examples.

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Quality, Good Manufacturing Practices, Standardization

Most people take a multivitamin and mineral on a daily basis and think they are doing something good for themselves.  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Why? 

Because not all commercially sold vitamin and mineral products are created equal.  Quality, content, standardization, source of nutrients and methods of production vary widely.  Smart supplementation demands that the nutrition we are buying is supporting our health as advertised.

For those politicians, doctors and others who claim that supplements are not regulated is invited to view the FDA's own site on Dietary Supplements. They are regulated but not regulated and tested like pharmaceuticals because supplements ARE NOT DRUGS. They don't kill people like pharmaceuticals do.

Nutrition

A lot of ground is covered in the Health-Choices-for-Life website concerning nutrition since anything that deals with the subject must necessarily involve the broader study of nutrition. 

In a "Garden of Eden" world we would not have a need for dietary supplements but we have long since left the garden and a balanced diet isn't as balanced as it appears.  It is instructive to consider where the nutritional content of food has gone.




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