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Nutritional Supplements - Do We Really Need Them?

Jan 29, 2008
When we think of the word 'Supplement', we normally think of something that accompanies something essential. However,nutritional supplements can by themselves be an essential part of a healthy nutrition plan.

Nutritional supplements can be beneficial for those leading a busy lifestyle as well as individuals with physiological or genetic conditions. Human beings all require a certain amount of vital biochemicals and this proportion varies just slightly from person to person.

Even when one tries to eat a nutritionally well balanced diet they might not always get the required amount of nutrients. Sometimes people may require supplements because they follow a rigorous exercise regime or they lead a sedentary lifestyle at work. Since individuals are unique, they require a particular amount of a certain nutrient that differs slightly from others.

For example B-Complex vitamins are essential for everyone. But the recommended dosage varies from person to person depending on their weight and physiology. Similarly for some a multivitamin pill can be more than enough to supply the nutrients that they are unable to get from a balanced diet. However, others might require specialized kinds or added amounts of nutritional supplements to maintain optimal health.

The human body has the ability to absorb the required nutrients like Vitamin C and eliminate the excess through the urine. Unfortunately, what ones consumes today might not be adequate for tomorrow and that is why one should make up for such deficits through supplements or a proper diet.

Vitamin C is a commonly taken supplement that is essential to curbing diseases such as scurvy and rickets. Though these ailments are not common today especially in developed countries, studies have found that adequate quantities of Vitamin C actually helps strengthen the immune system and reduce the occurrence of colds and other infections.

When it comes to Calcium, most older people in general do not consume much of it as compared to infants and young children.To an extent, it is normal and healthy because younger adults do not require the same amounts of calcium as children.

Nevertheless, as people grow older their bones tend to produce lesser amounts of calcium and so it becomes very important for people especially those who are lactose intolerant or who don't like the taste of milk in general to consume the required amounts of calcium through supplements.

Another example where nutritional supplements prove to be very effective is by providing adequate quantities of Omega 3 fatty acids.These fatty acids help prevent heart diseases and reduce inflammation. However, its primary dietary source - fish may not always have enough Omega 3 because the local fish supply is temporarily unsafe or it may not appeal to everyone's taste buds. In such cases nutritional supplements serve as an excellent alternative.

Many supplements also help in balancing out hormonal imbalances that effect both men and women. Soy is one such supplement that can help reduce the occurrence of Menopause and PMS (Premenstrual syndrome) symptoms. Some even help to treat thyroid imbalances.

Cortisol is another example of a supplement that can be consumed. Most individuals are able to produce adequate amounts of this hormone. In spite of this people can at times suffer from a deficiency because of a gland weakened by illness, genetic disposition or age. Symptoms of this deficiency include fatigue and aching joints, but these can be avoided by consuming cortisol supplements.

It is always advisable to undergo a thorough examination before taking more than the average recommended dosage of a daily vitamin as it might have adverse effects. Ginko, for example can lead to excessive bleeding in some. However, once you have determined the nutritional supplements that are most suited to you, they can really help in achieving and maintaining optimal health.
About the Author
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