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Supplements: Why Take Them?

Supplements: Why Take Them?

Article by Arnie Gitomer

Why Take Supplements?

Most of the customers at Willner Chemists already know the answer to this question. They have already discovered that they can alleviate various health problems by using a combination of dietary and lifestyle modifications, often built around the use of "therapeutic" nutritional supplements. Others have become convinced that one important way to prevent health problems is to provide their body with optimal levels of nutrients.

Reports of the value of antioxidants in preventing so many of the serious diseases abound, and even the more conservative medical community and governmental regulatory agencies seem to be changing their tune in this regard as well. The recent increase in the recommended level of calcium, recognizing its importance in preventing osteoporisis and acknowledging how difficult it is to achieve this level through diet alone, is one good example.

Dr. Michael Murray, in his book "Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements," (Prima Publishing), explains what is happening as follows:

Growing Popularity of Nutritional Supplementation

"In the last few years more Americans than ever are taking nutritional supplements. Estimates state that over 100 million Americans take dietary supplements on a regular basis. Despite the fact that there is tremendous scientific evidence to support the use of nutritional supplementation, many medical experts and researchers have not endorsed nutritional supplementation-even though 98 percent of them take supplements themselves.

"Why are so many Americans taking supplements? They know they are not getting what they need from their diets, and they realize that supplements make them feel healthier.’ Numerous studies have demonstrated that most Americans consume a diet inadequate in nutritional value. Comprehensive studies sponsored by the U.S. government (HANES I and II, Ten-State Nutrition Survey, USDA nationwide food consumption studies, etc.) have revealed marginal nutrient deficiencies exist in a substantial portion of the U.S. population (approximately 50 percent and that for some selected nutrients in certain age groups, more than 80 percent of the group consumed less than the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance).2

"These studies indicate the chances of consuming a diet meeting, the RDA for all nutrients is extremely unlikely for most Americans. In other words, while it is theoretically possible that a healthy individual can get all the nutrition he or she needs from foods, most Americans do not even come close to meeting all their nutritional needs through diet alone. In an effort to increase their intake of essential nutrients, many Americans look to vitamin and mineral supplements.

"While most Americans are deficient in many vitamins and minerals, the level of deficiency is usually not to a point where obvious nutrient deficiencies are apparent. A severedeficiency disease like scurvy (lack of vitamin C) is extremely rare, but marginal vitamin C deficiency is thought to be relatively common. The term subclinical deficiency is often used to describe marginal nutrient deficiencies. A subclinical or marginal deficiency indicates a deficiency of a particular vitamin or mineral that is not severe enough to produce a classic deficiency sign or symptom. In many instances the only clue of a subclinical. nutrient deficiency may be fatigue, lethargy, difficulty in concentration, a lack of well-being, or some other vague symptom. Diagnosis of subclinical deficiencies is an extremely difficult process that involves detailed dietary or laboratory analysis. Such tests ar