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Nutritional supplements and health 2Dietary Reference Intakes, the most recent set of dietary recommendations set by the government) level - chances are good that
we need more of nearly every nutrient
This is due to significantly increased body pollution level, caused by chemical contaminants in our food, air and water, the widespread use of pharmaceutical drugs, and high intake of junk foods, further depleting the body of nutrients and increasing free radical damage to its tissues and organs. It requires higher level of nutrients to support body organs and functions burdened by neutralizing and eliminating toxic chemicals.
If needed nutrients aren't available in sufficient levels,
it is only a question of time when disease sets in.
Consequently, a moderate, broad-spectrum balanced supplementation is beneficial to most people. More so considering that nearly all DRI values are established as the level of nutrient at which there is no evidence of short-term signs of health disorder. However, this doesn't necessarily equal optimum longer-term nutrient level.
Good example is vitamin C, whose DRI is at present 75mg and 90mg a day for an average healthy female and male, respectively. Average adult intake of vitamin C in the U.S. is around 100mg (slightly less for women, and slightly more for men). While it is pretty much guaranteed to safeguard you from scurvy, this intake level is a far cry from the optimum which, depending on the source - and individual - may be anywhere from 1000mg to 5000mg a day.
Possible consequences of the significantly lower intake are quite serious, since it makes body more vulnerable to damages, especially under increased stress and trauma. Most other animals have the ability to synthesize vitamin C, and their production of this essential antioxidant
skyrockets in physically/psychologically challenging situations.
If you limit yourself to the basic, scurvy-preventing DRI vitamin C level, your body simply won't be able to prevent cumulative oxidative damage at the cellular level, and the ensuing long-term health consequences.
Needless to say, any broad balanced supplementation should include plentiful amounts of vitamin C. Such supplementation should cover as many of essential nutrients as possible, roughly in proportions given by their DRI. This is, of course, subject to your dietary nutritional intake, which is always to some extent relatively excessive in some essential nutrients, and deficient in others. While determining these dietary biases is time consuming, it is worth every minute of it. It gives you important indications of how balanced is your intake of the essential nutrients.
Since no single nutritional supplement, no matter how broad-spectrum it is, covers all essential nutrients, it is advisable to take mineral and vitamin supplement separately. Since ingredients, their proportions, quality (potency) and level of contamination vary unpredictably from one to another, try not to stick to one brand. If you don't use natural oils containing essential fatty acids, you need to supplement them. Also, try to have major accessory nutrients deficient in your diet included in your supplemental regime, in addition to essential minerals and vitamins.
However, beware of supplements "dusting" nutrients to form a visually impressive, long list, while many are in such small quantities that will have no appreciable effect on your health.
The positive of broad-spectrum balanced supplementation is that it works on two levels. Not only that it protects you from intake deficiency in essential nutrients, more importantly - at least in developed countries - it helps moderate the negative effects of gross imbalances in dietary intake of specific nutrients. For instance, if your diet provides only 100% of the optimum for one mineral, and 300% for some other, the ratio of imbalance is 3. If you supplement 100% of both, your intake becomes 200% and 400%, respectively, with the imbalance ratio cut by 1/3. As this simplistic example illustrates, broad-spectrum supplementation is not likely to resolve gross imbalances, but should lessen their consequences.
The only way to address serious nutritional imbalances efficiently is to determine the specifics of nutritional status - and often the state of metabolism as well - with reliable laboratory tests. R