Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why Take Nutritional Supplements?

Although many doctors and nutritionist still maintain that we can get everything we need from our diet alone, medical research shows this is not the case. Also, it depends upon how much you "need" to do what. Most people think that getting 100% the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) is all that we need, or that it is "enough." In fact the RDAs were first established by the National Academy of Sciences during World War II (and revised in 1968) to determine the MINIMUM levels deemed necessary to prevent the soldiers from acquiring the classical nutrient deficieny diseases, such as night blindness, beriberi, pelegra, rickets, and scurvy (a disease that claimed the lives of many sailors before the 1800's).

It is indeed possible to prevent night blindness, beriberi (a neurological disease), pelegra, scurvy, and rickets by eating 5 to 7 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables. Is this all you "need," or even want? Most people are not too concerned about the classical nutrient-deficiency diseases. People are concerned about the chronic degenerative diseases: heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, lung disease, Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis, etc. These diseases are associated with increased oxidative damage, inflammation, and a lack of nutritional supplementation.

In addition, due to processed foods, poor eating habits, and the depletion of nutrients in some of our foods, people are getting less than the minimal recommended doses of vitamins and minerals. Our lifestyle choices, including inadequate nutrient intake has led to the rise of chronic degenerative diseases.

The RDAs have been updated several times, and have been replaced by the Recommend Daily Intake (RDI). Also, a new term, "Daily Value" (DV) has entered the lexicon of nutritional science as a means to help us understand what we should attain. However, medical research shows tremendous health benefits for obtaining vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants above any and all these "recommended" levels and values. (See the question about the benefits of supplements below.)

Due to the chronic vitamin, mineral, and omega-3 fatty acid deiciency epidemic in North America, in June 2002 researchers published their conclusions and recommendations in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association that everyone should take vitamin supplements to prevent disease and optimize health. However, most multi-vitamins contain only 100% the RDAs (or RDIs) of many nutrients. Although this sounds "healhty," as mentioned above, these are the levels that prevent the classical nutrient deficiency diseases. These are NOT the levels that can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, lung diseases, Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis, or slow the aging process.

No comments: