Nutrition and nutritional supplementation

Every one of us is health-conscious. In order to eat healthily we should pay particular attention to the content of the food that we eat and the nutrients it contains. Count calories and keep to regular mealtimes. We want the best quality for ourselves and our closest relatives, but by eating highly processed food and in a rush we do not absorb enough valuable nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals), or they are not absorbed well enough. We seek a solution to this problem in dietary supplements.

Supplement, not replace

All dietary supplements are provided with a note 'The product must not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet'. This important note informs us of the substances that should be included in our diet because they are difficult to absorb or are not included in our diet. Supplement does not mean replace. A balanced diet is one which includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, raw steamed products, minimally processed, and will never be replaced by a handful of vitamin or mineral tablets. Many supplements (especially in the form of tablets) also include substances that are not needed by the body and are cleared out by the liver. The liver is an organ that will not let harmful substances through to the bloodstream. By cleaning the blood, it 'poisons' itself. Taking many tablets will cause the liver to stop any superfluous substances that are required for creating the 'carrier' of the supplement, from further circulation.

'Change your dietary habits' instead of 'adding supplements'

The digestive system of humans has not changed for millions of years. Evolution is slow while living conditions change fast. New technologies for making food are being developed, and our accelerated lifestyle drives the production of highly processed foodstuffs. Preservatives, colours and additives may contribute to the overall better visual effect, but the nutritious value of these products is minimal. They are 'empty calories', which do not benefit the body except in satisfying hunger for a short period of time. If we imagine that we have the same digestive system as primeval man we may realize that our body cannot deal with all the nutrients it finds in the ingredients of the ready-made products bought in supermarkets. We are not biologically suited to digest such foods, even if we do not feel digestive discomfort after eating them. The human body needs simple substances, because it handles them more easily.

What is meant by 'healthy'?

Healthy eating is now a buzz term. The media inundate us with commercials of what is healthy, what increases absorption of nutrients, and what helps with digestion. It is worth considering whether natural products are advertised at all. Fruit without pesticides, small vegetables, cottage milk and quark are not made by big food producers but by ecological and natural farms. Vegetables bought at the market, fresh cow milk, milk sold from a can or cottage cheese are different from those products that we buy in the shops. It is true that natural dairy products are fattier than processed ones. However, it is worth eating something fatty for the sake of the natural nutrients contained in it. Especially that fat in itself is not that bad. In particular, vegetable fats that aid the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, are crucial for our diet. They play a role in stabilising cholesterol levels. Carrot salad is only nutritious when the vitamin A it contains can dissolve in fat. This is why our moms and grandmas, sometimes unaware of the beneficial results, sprinkled it with a few drops of oil or cream. Low-fat yoghurt will not replace supplements which are richer in calories.


When to use supplements?

A healthy man who is conscious of all these problems and who eats a healthy diet consisting of five meals and regular breaks between them will not need dietary supplements. But let's face it – how many of us are so strictly mindful about the degree of processing and the content of vitamins and minerals in our food? We are just too busy to do that. It is very often hard to replace popular products with healthy ones that are more expensive and much less available. Besides, preparing meals from natural products requires much more work. This is why dietary supplements may help us when it is not easy to find products which supply us with vitamins and minerals. However, they need to be approached sensibly, and only those selected that were prepared with the use of natural resources (e.g. fruit or vegetable extracts), and not those which were synthetically produced in a lab from artificially obtained elements. The rule applies to vitamins used to build the resistance of the body and enhance such functions as vision, bone mineralisation, coagulation or thinking processes, including concentration.

Anticipate increased demand

Dietary supplements are not medicines but products that are meant to replenish the mineral and vitamin deficiencies of the body. Our task is to do everything not to allow the deficiency to take place. We are not capable of anticipating everything that is happening in our bodies, but there are some simple strategies that are worth trying. They include drinking mineral water (not to be confused with spring water), which may prevent magnesium or potassium deficiencies that manifests themselves through cramps and exhaustion, if drunk regularly. Orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed) and spinach will provide vitamin C and calcium, whereas fish and eggs provide iron. Red and green vegetables, together with red meat are also worthwhile. A well-balanced diet will allow to keep a healthy body without the need for supplementation. However, owing to various factors, the demand for some ingredients may rise, which may not be easily satisfied even with a balanced diet. Then the products offered by dietary supplements manufacturers will come to our aid. However, before you decide on the best product, remember to check how the supplements were produced and select those closest to nature.


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