Confused about which supplements to take? You're not alone.
That's why over 15 years ago David Rahm, M.D. - medical director of The Wellness Center and founder of VitaMedica - developed the Nutritional Supplement Pyramid. Dr. Rahm designed this tool based on the well-known Food Guide Pyramid to ensure a logical approach to nutritional supplementation.
While nutritional supplements are part of a health-promoting lifestyle, as their name implies, they should augment the diet. Nutritional supplements are intended to cover gaps in diet – not to make up for an unhealthy lifestyle.
If you would like more guidance in this area, then explore the Health & Wellness area of our website. This section offers the latest health news along with articles on health conditions, nutritious foods, exercise & fitness. Also, check-out Dr. Rahm's latest book, The Wellness Prescription, where he offers guidance on healthy eating, nutritional supplementation, exercise & fitness and stress management.
Multiple-Vitamin & Mineral
Not convinced that you need a multi? In 2002, two Harvard physicians published a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that all Americans should take a daily multi-vitamin. The recommendation was based on research demonstrating that taking a multi-vitamin may help prevent a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, some cancers and osteoporosis.
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Many of the antioxidants that occur in nature are found in plants. These so-called phytochemicals or plant chemicals are found in large quantities in fruits and vegetables, especially those colored deep red, blue and purple (raspberries, blueberries, acai berry); but also orange, red, green and white (apricots, bell peppers, collard greens, garlic). The function of these phytochemicals is not to make our food attractive to eat; but to protect the plant from the sun's harmful UV rays. When we ingest these plants, the antioxidant protective benefits of these plant chemicals are conferred upon us.
Eating a wide range of colored fruits and vegetables in the diet ensures that you obtain a broad range of antioxidants. In doing so, a wider number of systems in the body are protected as certain antioxidants work in specific parts of the body. For example the carotenoid lutein helps protect the macula of the eye whereas lycopene helps protect heart tissue. In addition, extensive data suggests that a combination of antioxidants provides greater protection than any single antioxidant.
If you're consuming 4 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetables a day, then you probably don't need to augment your diet with a phytonutrient supplement. Unfortunately, most of us are falling short of this goal and recent government studies back this up. According to the State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, 2009, only 14 percent of adults consume 2+ servings of fruit and 3+ servings of vegetables daily and fewer than 10 percent of adolescents meet this goal. These numbers fall considerably short of the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) goal of 75% as outlined in Healthy People 2010†.
Supplementing the diet with a phytonutrient that includes a wide range of antioxidants ensures that your body obtains these important nutrients to fight chronic disease and aging associated with free-radical damage.
Once the bodies' requirement for the above basic nutrients has been met – vitamins, minerals, Omega-3s and phytonutrients - targeted supplements can be added to address specific health issues. These typically include botanicals but can also include enzymes, amino acids, etc.
As the name implies, accessory nutrients are not essential in the human diet, but when taken, can be useful for solving a variety of health problems. Examples include glucosamine sulfate, which is used by many for mild to moderate symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.
In some instances, accessory nutrients are used to resolve a temporary health issue. For example, St. John's Wort for a bout of mild depression or echinacea for an upper respiratory infection. On other occasions, accessory nutrients are preferred because they are more natural than a medication. For example, moms often prefer that their teenager use VitaMedica's Healthy Skin Formula to address mild to moderate acne as opposed to ingesting an antibiotic or other systemic medication.
By referring to the Nutritional Supplement Pyramid, it encourages you to take a logical approach to nutritional supplementation. Following this approach also ensures that you don't get too much of some nutrients and insufficient amounts of others.
†Healthy People 2010 is a comprehensive set of disease prevention and health promotion objectives for the nation to achieve over the first decade of the new century. Created by scientists both inside and outside of government, it identifies a wide range of public health priorities and specific, measurable objectives. Two overarching goals of Healthy People 2010 are to 1) increase quality and years of healthy life and 2) eliminate health disparities. The government is already working on developing Healthy People 2020 and invites the public to participate in its development.