Nutritional supplements should not be taken lightly.
Nutritional supplements are needed when the normal diet does not supply the required amounts of essential nutrients. Not everyone needs them.
A supplement, by definition, is something that accompanies something essential. But, in some cases, nutritional supplements can themselves be an essential part of a healthy nutrition regimen.
Whether because of a busy life style, or an individual genetic or physiological condition, there are those who benefit from nutritional supplements. Everyone requires a certain amount of vital biochemicals, with the proportion varying within a narrow range for almost everyone.
But diet doesn't always supply those amounts, even when a sincere effort is made to eat properly. Some have rigorous exercise routines, others are forced to a more sedentary lifestyle because of work and family life. Most importantly, every individual is unique and therefore requires a particular amount of nutrient that differs slightly from others.
B-complex vitamins, for example, are essential for everyone. But the proper amount will vary depending on weight and unique physiology. For some, an all-purpose daily vitamin pill is enough to supply any needed amount that doesn't come from a balanced diet. The body has a well-tuned ability, in most cases, to absorb what's needed and slough off the rest.
For others, added amounts or specialized types are a requirement for good health. Vitamin C is eliminated in the urine when consumed in excess amounts. But what is excess one day may not be enough the next, requiring tomorrow's deficit to be made up through diet or supplements.
Taking Vitamin C once helped eliminate the dangers of scurvy and rickets. That's rarely a problem in developed countries today, but there is strong evidence that it helps boost the immune system, leading to fewer colds and infections. Past claims overstated the facts, but Vitamin C remains a needed element.
Many people as they get older consume much less calcium. To an extent, that's normal and healthy. Young adults don't require anywhere near the amounts that they did when they were infants or young children.
But the curve picks up again later in life, as bones become less able to manufacture the appropriate amount. For many who are lactose intolerant, or simply don't care for the taste of cow's or goat's milk, getting calcium in the form of a supplement is a great way to get that essential mineral.
Omega-3 are essential fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and prevent heart disease, to name only two benefits. But one of the main dietary sources - fish - isn't to everyone's taste. It's also unfortunately the case that sometimes the local fish supply is temporarily unsafe. In those circumstances a nutritional supplement is an excellent alternative.
There are dozens of supplements that can help balance out hormonal deficiencies that many women and some men suffer from. Soy is one that can smooth out imbalances and help reduce PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) or menopause symptoms. Others are helpful for thyroid imbalances.
Cortisol is another example. Naturally produced by most people in the proper amount, some people have a deficiency due to a gland weakened by disease, age or genetic condition. Those low in cortisol can suffer from fatigue, aching joints and other symptoms. Taken in the proper amounts, it can make a huge positive lifestyle difference.
Each person should undergo rigorous testing before taking anything more than an average daily vitamin or one of the more common supplements. Ginko, for example, can lead to excessive bleeding in some. You need to know which are safe for you. But once you have the results, taking nutritional supplements can make the difference between mediocre and optimal health.