The Role of Supplements (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Adequate nutrition is the foundation of good health. Everyone needs the four basic nutrients: water, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It is important to choose the proper foods to deliver these nutrients and, as necessary, to complement the diet with supplements.
Health-conscious adults have heard the message repeatedly that they can get the vitamins they need from the foods they eat, but surveys have shown that people in many countries fail to eat adequate amounts of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods. Should public health officials or registered dieticians recommend that people take supplements to compensate for poor eating habits? The answer to this question can be found in a discussion of vitamin supplements.
The 1990’s brought to light much new information about human nutrition, its effects on the body, and the role that it plays in disease. The fuel for the body’s engine comes directly from the food that one eats, which contains many vital nutrients. Nutrients come in the form of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, water, amino acids, carbohydrates, and lipids (fats). These nutrients provide people with the basic materials that human bodies need to sustain life.
One of the latest types of dietary supplements are nutraceuticals. These supplements are obtained from naturally derived chemicals in plants, called photonutrients, that make the plants biologically active. They are...
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The Promise of Antioxidants (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
No discussion of supplements would be complete without mention of antioxidants. They are a group of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help to protect the body from the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are groups of atoms that can cause damage to cells and thus impair the immune system. This damage is also thought to be the basis for the aging process. Free radicals are believed to be formed through exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals such as cigarette smoke, as well as overexposure to the sun’s rays.
Some common antioxidants are vitamin A and its precursor, beta carotene; vitamin C; and vitamin E. Zinc and the trace mineral selenium are thought to play an important role in neutralizing free radicals. Each vitamin or mineral has a recommended daily allowance (RDA).
Some in the field of nutrition have recommended higher supplementation doses of antioxidants and specific use of four antioxidant supplements—vitamins C and E, selenium, and mixed carotenes—to protect the immune system even further. Recommendations such as this are numerous and related to different kinds of supplement use, and they must be weighed carefully against data obtained from controlled clinical trials. While many of the substances touted as beneficial to health may have some benefits, supplements can be harmful in the wrong person; at the wrong dose; if taken in combination with the wrong medications or diet; or if...
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Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Use of supplements is based both on modern research and development and on discoveries by mainstream scientists about the benefits of various substances. Substances such as garlic and aloe vera are examples of home remedies that have shown some promise for different kinds of ailments. Natural supplements have been used for centuries in many parts of the world as alternative medicines.
Considered and careful examination of supplement regimens in controlled clinical trials will serve as the ultimate test on the utility of these substances for health purposes. Simultaneously, consumers must remain aware that personal use of these supplements may, at times, be somewhat experimental. Quality control concerns and interactions between supplements and prescribed medications are an important consideration. Additionally, knowledge of the supplements found in pills or popular beverages and how they may interact with street drugs of different types is also important in order to avoid unnecessary harm. This is especially true for children and elders.
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For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Balch, James F., and Phyllis A. Balch. Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A to Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs, and Food Supplements. 4th rev. ed. Garden City Park, N.Y.: Avery, 2008.
Hendler, Sheldon Saul. The Doctors’ Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.
Murray, Michael. The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines: Vitamins, Minerals, Nutritional Supplements, Herbs, and Other Natural Products. New York: Bantam, 2002.
The PDR Family Guide to Nutritional Supplements: An Authoritative A-to-Z Resource on the One Hundred Most Popular Nutritional Therapies and Nutraceuticals. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001.
Weil, Andrew. Eight Weeks to Optimum Health: A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Body’s Natural Healing Power. Rev. ed. New York: Ballantine Books, 2007.
(The entire section is 123 words.)