What are nutritional supplements?
Nutritional supplements refer to vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and all the wondrous substances one derives from plants, called phytonutrients, as well as many other substances used as foods. Phytonutrients or phytochemicals refer to the thousands of chemicals found in plants that help them survive. They are structured to interact with our own chemistries because man and plants are interconnected on this planet. Phytonutrients are protective chemicals both for the plants that make them and for the animals that eat those plants.
Antioxidants refer to any substance (certain vitamins and minerals, certain phytochemicals) that renders free radicals harmless in the body. Free radicals are produced in the course of normal cellular metabolism (sometimes called oxidative metabolism). When unchecked, free radicals have been implicated in the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
What are essential nutrients?
‘Essential nutrients’ are those nutritional chemicals that are not made inside our bodies although they are required, or ‘essential’ in order to create the energy that allows us to live. ‘Essential nutrients’ include: water; certain minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium and chloride; trace minerals like chromium, copper, iron, selenium, zinc and others; essential amino acids derived from proteins; essential fatty acids from fats; and certain vitamins like C, B, A, D, E, and K.
When should we use nutritional supplements?
Nutritional supplements are used to promote health, prevent disease, and also to treat certain chronic conditions. They are now considered indispensable to a healthy lifestyle because diet alone is no longer able to satisfactorily promote health. Why is this true?
First, it is almost impossible to get the amounts of nutrients we need from diet alone if we want to protect ourselves from certain diseases of modern life, such as heart disease, hypertension, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and others, as well as to correct the effects of pollution on our bodies.
Second, our foodstuffs have been altered irrevocably and their nutrient content diluted by modern growing techniques and the use of fertilizers and pesticides. This, taken together with modern storage methods, means that we sometimes run into oranges that have no Vitamin C or tomatoes with little or no lycopene.
Vitamins and minerals are essential in cellular metabolism because they act as co-enzymes, or enzyme cofactors, thereby having a central part to play in the work of all our living cells. Vitamin and mineral coenzymes allow enzymes to do their work of converting foodstuff into energy and then detoxifying and eliminating the end-results of these reactions. Vitamins and minerals are essential for our survival on this planet.
[Excerpted from Dr. Feingold’s book, The Complete Self-Care Guide to Homeopathy, Herbal Remedies and Nutritional Supplements.]