One of the most interesting recent developments in the health and wellness industry is the increasing reliance on nutritional supplements. While it is a very positive development that more Americans are seeking out methods to increase their overall health and wellness, there are still concerns that must be raised regarding the increased usage of these supplements. Before a consumer uses a supplement, there are many factors that they should first consider:
- The grade of the supplement
- The accuracy of the manufacturer’s label
- The potential impact of the supplement on the user
- The maintenance of a balanced diet including macronutrients and micronutrients
- The availability of whole food sources
These factors should always be taken into consideration before an individual ingests any supplement, and it is always best to consult a licensed professional in advance of taking any supplement. In some cases, there can be a great deal of risks in taking certain supplements, as not all supplements are subject to third-party verification or testing.
Understanding the Value of Using Pharmaceutical-Grade Supplements
There is a major difference between pharmaceutical-grade supplements and other supplements. Typically, supplements are categorized according to grades which include:
- Cosmetic or nutritional
- Feed or agricultural
Pharmaceutical-grade supplements are held to the highest standard possible, meaning that the supplement is tested for its dissolution, purity and absorption. The testing is conducted by an independent third party to ensure that there is no potential bias impacting the results. While these supplements may be available without a prescription, they are generally only available through a health care practitioner with the appropriate licensure.
The other grades are not held to as high a standard. Medical-grade supplements also meet very high standards, though they are not held to as high a standard as the pharmaceutical grade. Cosmetic or nutritional supplements are commonly found in health and fitness shops, but they are not necessarily tested by any third party. This makes them prone to inaccuracies in their labeling, which can be quite dangerous in some cases. Great care should be taken when choosing an appropriate supplement, and if it is not possible to be certain what is in the supplement, it probably is not possible to determine that supplement’s inherent safety.
Issues in Manufacturing and Labeling
The major issue relating to supplements is the lack of oversight in the lower grades. This lack of oversight allows unscrupulous companies to misinform consumers – intentionally or unintentionally – with regard to the content of the supplements. It is absolutely vital that the consumer is completely aware of precisely what they are putting into their bodies. The lack of oversight for the lesser grades should be a major cause of concern for consumers, and it is simply safer to opt for a pharmaceutical-grade supplement if they are not going to get the nutrients from a whole food source.
Maintain Balance and Moderation for Optimal Health
The key to attaining health that is optimized is to find a balance in the nutrients that are taken in on a daily basis. Most Americans are keenly aware of the macronutrients that they should be getting, which include:
The fact is that most Americans get more than their fair share of macronutrients, but they shortchange themselves when it comes to micronutrients. These compounds are much smaller, and they are frequently found in plant products. The compounds include:
It is this lack of balance between macronutrients and micronutrients that cause many people to turn to supplements, and sometimes, rightfully so. While the best option is to get an appropriate balance of macronutrients and micronutrients from whole food sources, sometimes it is difficult to change an individual’s dietary habits overnight. In the absence of an appropriate balance, using pharmaceutical-grade supplements can be very beneficial to overall health and wellness.
Whole Food Sources Are Always Preferable
There are many benefits to turning to whole food sources to get the proper balance of micronutrients and macronutrients, including:
- Enhanced health and well-being
- Increased feeling of productivity
- Improved energy
- Increased ability to remove toxins
- Either achieving or maintaining an appropriate body weight
- Prevention of a variety of diseases
- Cardiovascular disease
- Increased longevity
- Reduced cholesterol levels
The common misconception is that the negative impact of an improper diet can be mitigated through the use of supplementation. This is not the case, as supplements cannot compensate for an improper diet, nor are they meant to. Supplements are meant for, well, supplementation. This means that they are to be used in conjunction with a healthy diet by filling in any nutritional gaps.
Closing the Gap on Nutrition
Whole foods provide a better balance of nutrition, and the nutrients therein are more likely to survive the digestion process than the nutrients in a supplement. This is because the nutrients in whole foods are much more biologically active than those in supplements, making them hardier and more likely to withstand digestion. Additionally, a study conducted by Colorado State University indicated that certain nutrients in foods may be responsible for reducing the risk of certain types of disease, but those same nutrients do not have the same impact when they are introduced through supplementation.
When it comes to supplementation, it should be clear that the best option is available through the use pharmaceutical-grade supplements. Of course, when it comes to optimal health and wellness, achieving a balance of micronutrients and macronutrients through whole foods is always the best option.