Wikipedia defines a dietary supplement as a manufactured product intended to supplement the diet when taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid. A supplement can provide nutrients either extracted from food sources or synthetic, individually or in combination, in order to increase the quantity of their consumption. The class of nutrient compounds includes vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids and amino acids. Dietary supplements can also contain substances that have not been confirmed as being essential to life, but are marketed as having a beneficial biological effect, such as plant pigments or polyphenols. i.e. Grape Seed Extract.
Animals can also be a source of supplement ingredients, as for example collagen from chickens or fish. These are also sold individually and in combination, and may be combined with nutrient ingredients.
In the United States and Canada, dietary supplements are considered a subset of foods, and are regulated accordingly. The European Commission has also established harmonized rules to help insure that food supplements are safe and properly labeled.
Natural Nutrients consisting of vitains and minerals we need generally comes in the form of the food and beverages we ingest. When companies label food or supplements as “natural,” they may be hoping that you will assume their products are safer and better than other “Synthetic” products. However, in the context of supplements and even food, it is very difficult to know what is meant by “natural.” In fact, even the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recognizes the difficulty in defining this term, and it has not associated the term “natural” with any nutritional or other health benefit.
We choose to define Natural Supplements as those that are derived from natural sources like plants. I.E. Herbal Supplements.
Evidence suggests that natural nutrients found in whole foods can prevent against a wide range of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death. These benefits have been linked to the wide range of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and fatty acids found in whole foods.
Fruits and vegetables provide us with most of our daily fiber, vitamins, minerals needs. Studies have shown that higher vegetable and fruit intake is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and some brain disorders. Increased fruit intake is also linked to lower blood pressure, reduced oxidative stress and improved blood sugar control with certain exceptions of course like for people that have diabetes.
Whole grains contain many valuable nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins and minerals such as iron,selenium and magnesium. Whole grain consumption has also been associated with protection against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Researchers believe that the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish are responsible for improved heart health. Many large observational studies have shown that people who eat fish regularly have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and death from heart disease.
Nuts and seeds are very high in antioxidants and healthy fats. They have been associated with a reduced risk of early death, heart disease and diabetes.
Scientists believe that the high soluble fiber content of beans and legumes offer a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which may help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
An herb, aka a botanical is a plant or part of a plant that people use to try to stay healthy, or to treat health conditions and illnesses. An herbal health product or supplement is a type of dietary supplement that contains one or more herbs. These supplements can have strong effects on the body but are not regulated by the FDA. They are available in many forms, including in tea bags, capsules, tablets, liquids, and powders. Some examples of common herbal health products and supplements include garlic, ginger, echinacea, ginkgo, saw palmetto, and St. John’s wort. CBD oil is considered a natural herbal supplement.
Vitamins and minerals in most supplements are simply synthetic forms of the nutrients that occur naturally in food products. The word “synthetic” doesn’t necessarily mean inferior, however. Even those supplements that claim to have “natural” ingredients may contain some synthetic ingredients.
With our processed food and fast food culture there is a good chance you are not getting all the supplements you need through your diet. This is where Synthetic Supplements come in.
For the most part, your body should absorb synthetic forms of nutrients as well as they do natural forms. The one exception seems to be vitamin E, which in natural form is better absorbed than in synthetic form. But most supplements that contain Vitamin E now contain more naturally derived vitamin E, so it is well absorbed in pill form.
There certain groups of people who may benefit from supplementing with synthetic nutrients.
The list of illnesses and the list of supplements that can help is absolutely endless.
Our Recommended Supplements
Folic acid is essential for your body’s basic function—from physical to mental health—including DNA synthesis, hormone balance and cell division. It may help prevent clogged arteries and improves blood flow to the brain by keeping down levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that increases your risk of blood clots.
How much to take? 400 mcg a day. Nutural sources include citrus, beans, and fortified breads and cereals.
Your body produces it’s own coenzyme Q10 better known as CoQ10; it helps cells manage your body’s energy supply. But as you get older, production of CoQ10 decreases. The only way to get back up to youthful levels is by taking a supplement. Some studies suggest that CoQ10 may help fight cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease, and may thin the blood to help prevent heart disease. CoQ10 is also packed with free-radical-fighting antioxidants, which can slow the signs of aging.
How much? 100 mg a day.
“Vitamin D and calcium work together to build strong bones—each alone will not do the trick. Vitamin D is one of the most commonly deficient nutrients in America, with one study finding nearly 40% of Americans are deficient.
How much? 400-800 IUs, depending on your age.
Natural Sources: Fatty Fish, Milk, Eggs, Some Mushrooms
Omega-3 fatty acids help keep triglyceride and blood pressure levels down and the heart beating regularly. It has been shown to help to decrease inflammation, cardiovascular disease, joint pain, and more,
How much? For most people 1,000 mg a day. Those with heart problems may need 2,000 to 4,000 mg. But check with your doctor about the proper dosage for yourself.
Natural Sources: It’s not just fatty fish that are packed with omega-3s fatty acids—it’s also found in kale, flaxseeds, chia seeds, fortified orange juice and whole bread.
“Whey protein is a very bioavailable protein source, and is a complete protein that contains all of the essential amino acids needed for building muscle. It is a super source for Vegetarians and Vegans to get protein, as well as for those either trying to lose weight or those who are trying to add lean muscle mass.
How much? Men’s Health recommends 6 to 8 palm-sized portions of protein-rich foods every day, which works to about 30g at each meal.
Natural Sources: Beef, Chicken Fish
One of these least talked about supplements but one that could be amongst the best one to take. “No other single nutrient appears to prevent cancer more effectively than selenium,” says Gerald F. Combs, Ph.D., director of the USDA’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center. It basically forces cancer cells to self-destruct. Combs’s studies have linked increased selenium consumption to a decreased risk of cancers of the prostate, colon, and lungs, among others.
How much? 200 mcg a day.
Tip: Shrimp is an excellent source as is the Brasil Nut, which measures 100 mcg per nut. These are not in most peoples daily diet regimen which makes taking the supplement an easy way to get it.
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Supplements are meant to benefit overall health and complement a healthy and varied whole food diet. Supplement ingredients may be:
– Synthetically produced in a laboratory
– Derived from natural sources
While both provide nutrients that can help prevent or treat deficiencies and other conditions, each may have its own distinct advantages.
Synthetic made nutrients are either:
– Identical to their natural counterparts
– converted by the body to the natural form.
In cases where there is a deficiency or health concern, synthetic vitamins may be the place to start as you know the exact amount of nutrients contained. When health improves and there is no
longer a deficiency, natural or whole-food vitamins may be administered to help support and maintain health and wellness.
Ultimately, whether natural or synthetic, QUALITY is what MATTERS MOST when selecting vitamins and nutrients. When making your choice, the list of ingredients and their amounts is likely one of the most important aspects.
What the supplement DOES NOT CONTAIN is
as important as the ingredients IT DOES CONTAIN.