Learn about Vitamins and Supplements
What are vitamins and Supplements and what are they used for?
There are various types of dietary, or nutritional, supplements available to consumers. Mineral and Vitamin supplements are combinations of dietary supplements which contain micro-nutrients that are used to help a healthy body function correctly.
Herbal (or botanical) supplements are also classed as dietary supplements which have a specific medicinal purpose. Herbal supplements are usually made to boost a specific area of the body’s health, such as the liver, bones or skin.
Herbal supplements vary from the processed vitamin and mineral supplements produced in laboratory in that they are considered to also have medicinal value. Herbs are sometimes known as "botanicals", and are considered to be one of humanity's oldest medicinal aids in curing sickness and disease. Many of today’s modern medicines are based around the chemicals and properties found in these herbs but they are usually synthesised from other materials instead of the original plant source.
Older civilizations and cultures depended on herbs and other types of plants as a source of medicine. Many cultures throughout the world still use specific herbs and plants as their main source of medication. The World Health Organization has estimated that up to 80% of the world's population still use traditional therapies, most of these remedies and therapies are still derived from plants.
These types of supplements are usually made specifically for supplementing (adding to) a diet that may lacking in certain vitamins, nutrients, fibre, proteins or minerals. Supplements can be exactly tailored for body builders to assist with their muscle and bone development.
Some people with stomach problems may be recommended to take high fibre supplements to assist with digestion. There are also many supplements available to help with weight reduction and these often contain ingredients to help burn off fatty deposits in the body and suppress the natural feeling of hunger. Some other types of supplements can include multi vitamins or some can be a specific type of vitamin combined with the necessary nutrients and minerals that help the body absorb and use these vitamins.
Energy boosting supplements
Here are some of the more common supplements which are claimed to be "energy boosters":
· Creatine – a widely sold supplement, creatine can build muscle mass and improve athletic performance when using the recommended dosage. However, there are very few adequate studies into the lack of adverse effects.
· DHEA – this naturally occurring hormone is said to boost energy as well as prevent cancer, heart disease, and infectious disease. DHEA has no proven benefits, and in some cases it could actualy cause liver damage and increase the risk for breast and prostate cancers.
· Ephedra – banned by the FDA because of major safety concerns, including increased risk of heart attack and stroke, there is no safe amount of ephedra you can consume. A cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage will work just as well.
· Ginkgo biloba – This has been used for centuries in many Chinese medicines and has now been commonly accepted in many western countries, The myth of its effects on cognition, mood, alertness, and memory have been the subject of many studies. Some unofficial studies seem to suggest ginkgo biloba may improve some aspects of mood, including alertness and calmness, in healthy subjects. It is reputed to make you more alert and calm, and is claimed that it may increase your sense of energy.
· Ginseng – This is a relatively safe and popular herb that many people claim that it can help to reduce fatigue and enhance stamina and endurance. Studies in this area have been sparse and sometimes conflicting. Many people report that ginseng improves mood, energy, and physical and intellectual performance. Whilst other clinical trials have concluded that ginseng does nothing to improve oxygen use or aerobic performance, and has shown no evidence that ginseng will influence how quickly you bounce back after physical exercise.
Do "energy boosters" work?
There are a multitude of herbs and other supplements that claim to boost energy. However, many have side effects and long-term consequences that haven't been fully studied.
If you have been subscribed a medication and are using these prescription medications, do not start on a course of herbal supplements without first checking with a doctor or health professional. A combination of herbal supplements as well as taking over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs could be a lethal combination that may cause you more ill health or serious side effects.
Whilst a certain herbal supplement may have been extracted from a “natural” source, do not rule out the fact that it could also be just as potent as, or even stronger than any of the other prescription drugs you may ingest.
Vitamins are essential for good health and proper bodily functions but not all vitamins are the same. Naturally occurring vitamins or those extracted from natural once living organisms are the most readily absorbed by our bodies the foods we eat containing these elements also contains essential enzymes and other naturally occurring good bacteria that help us to actually absorb and use them. Pharmaceutical companies and food manufactures often use synthetic variations of vitamins, whilst still containing the reputed vitamin it is sometimes in a form that is hard for our digestive system or other organs to absorb and there for can’t be used by our bodies. Some of these types of chemicals can be absorbed but our bodies cant then make use of them in that form and they can build up to toxic levels and actually make us ill or cause other diseases .
Could you recognise if a vitamin is natural or synthetic?
Most people would not know how to identify a natural vitamin from a synthetic one. Vitamin and mineral supplements often contain labels that are too complicated for you to understand. And the average person would not know how to distinguish a natural vitamin or mineral compound for a synthetic version.
Sometimes manufacturers of commercial vitamin and mineral supplements will use synthetic vitamins to increase the potencyof their product.
Coal tar is often one of the raw products that these synthetics are extracted from which has been found to be a known carcinogen found in the smoke from cigarettes.
Always talk to your doctor before taking any new supplement if you are on other medications or are not sure about the supplement its self.
Here are some simple steps that may help you to identify the Ingredients in your vitamin supplements.
First ; Check to see if it says "100 percent natural" on the product's label. Some product labels can contain the words –natural or made from natural ingredients, but manufacturers can claim "natural" on their nutritional products if at least 10 percent of the product comes from natural food sources. The Organic Consumers Organization recommends looking for products that contain "100% plant-based" or "100% animal-based" on the product's label.
The next thing to look for is the "food source" listed on the containers label. It should list such things as yeast, fish, vegetable and citrus. If the product's label does not contain a list of natural food sources, then the product is synthetic.
Another thing to look for is whole foods which are listed as ingredients. Like Some types of seaweeds with names like Nori, Dulse,Arame, Wakame and Kombuthese can contain up to 10 times more calcium than milk and 8 times as much as beef. Other ingredients like"acerola cherry powder," which contains large amounts of vitamin C. If you can only identify the words "vitamin C" in the ingredient list you can almost guarantee that it is a synthetic vitamin.
Also identify different types of salts on the products label,
These synthetic salts are often added to supplements for increasing the stability of the vitamin or mineral. Some of the salt forms to look for include acetate, bitartrate, chloride, gluconate, hydrochloride, nitrate and succinate.
Learn how to interperate the product's label by looking for words that indicate the supplement is synthetic. Words that end in "ide" or "ate" indicate that the product contains synthetic salts.
For instance, if you see chloride, hydrochloride, acetate or nitrate on the list of ingredients then we know that the manufacturer has used synthetics for the product. Also be aware of the letters "dl" that are sometimes in front of the name of an ingredient as this also indicates the supplement is synthetic. As an example vitamin E: can go under these names when it is a synthetic-- dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate .