Q. What are supplements?
A. Supplement means “to support”. Nutritional supplements are those substances which support our nutrition. These include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids and glyco-nutrients. Some supplements are essential for our body. They are essential because our body cannot synthesize them on its own. So in order to remain or become healthy we need to include these essential supplements in our daily diet. Essential supplements include 16 vitamins, 70 minerals and trace minerals, 12 amino acids and 3 essential fatty acids.
Q. Don’t I get essential supplements/nutrients in my diet?
A. No, the diet these days is deficient in nutrients. Our farmlands have been depleted of minerals due to over farming. that’s why we use fertilizers on our crops. Such fertilizers and pesticides are toxic in nature and they contaminate the our food supply. The processing and preserving of food destroys the vitamins in it. We use man made oils instead of using natural oils (essential fatty acids). We use processed sugars and artificial sweeteners instead of naturally occurring glyco-nutrients. As a result our diet is deficient in nutrients and incomplete. This makes us more prone to diseases. Due to these reasons we have no choice but to supplement our diet with high quality nutrients and supplements.
Q. Why are some supplements inexpensive while others are very expensive?
A. Some companies are more concerned about their profits than they are about the quality and quantity of the supplements. The old saying, “You get what you pay for” is very true for the supplement industry. As there are no regulations regarding supplements many manufactures add fillers and inert ingredients in order to make up the quantity of each capsule or tablet up to what the label says. E.g. the label might say 1000mg of vitamin C but in reality you might be getting just 500 mg of vit C and the rest 500mg will be of inert fillers which are used to increase the bulk weight.
Another main issue is Bioavailabilty. Bioavailabilty is the amount of useful supplement which enters your blood and is available at the desired site of action. Same supplement products from different companies will differ in bioavailability.
So make sure the company you are buying the product from is well reputed and trusted. If any company is offering high quality and full quantity of the supplement, it is likely to cost more but if you compare milligram vs milligram, you get your money’s worth.
Q. I have tried supplements before but it didn’t work for me.
A. The major mistake most people make when beginning a supplement program is that they don’t take enough quantity to really make a difference and they don’t stick with it long enough for their body to make the repairs necessary to achieve the result. Supplements usually require much higher quantity to be ingested than medicines to have the desired effect. So knowing how much of each nutrient to take is very important.
Next thing you need to remember is that time is necessary for the healing process so a 4-month commitment before starting on any supplement is highly recommended. You will get optimal benefits only when you will be patient and follow the instructions properly.
Q. I eat carefully chosen healthy diet. Why isn’t that enough?
A. Senate Document 264 written in 1936 found, after extensive testing of the farmlands in the U.S., that the top soils were already 86% depleted of the minerals necessary for maintenance of optimum health. We were warned then that if we didn’t replace the minerals in our soils that deficiency disease would become epidemic over the next 3 generations. Instead of replacing all 70 minerals necessary for good health, we have added only three major minerals to our soil namely phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium (fertilizer). This leaves us deficient of the minerals and trace minerals necessary to achieve and maintain optimal health.
Q. Is there any difference between same supplement made by different companies? Vitamin C is Vitamin C whatever the company, right?
A. No, the effect of same supplement can vary from company to company. All supplements are not the same just as all cars are not the same. Both quantity and quality related differences are invloved. You cannot be sure if you are receiving the exact potency as mentioned on the label.
Similarly bioavailabilty differs from company to comapny.Bioavailabilty is the amount of useful supplement which enters your blood and is avilable and the desired site of action. Same supplement products from different companies will differ in bioavailability. So make sure the company you are buying from is well reputed and trusted by other people.
Q. Do young and healthy people also need to take supplements?
A. Our food is so deficient of nutrients that it is important to begin all children on a supplement program as soon as they come off their mother’s milk. Otherwise they will fall victim to deficiency diseases. The health goal of taking supplements by healthy people is prevention of disease. Supplements provide the raw building materials necessary for our body to maintain good health.
Q. Can I suffer from overdose of supplements?
A. Yes. Most of the supplements available in the market are usually concentrated extracts of natural herbs. Your body has to maintain a balance of everything so after sometime the supplements you take are eliminated from your body by liver and kidneys. That’s why you need to take another dose after sometime. Overdose of these concentrated extracts can overload your liver and kidneys and also cause other undesirable effects. E.g. Caffeine makes you active but its over dose can cause insomnia and restlessness. So you should be careful about overdosing yourself and should always follow instructions present on the label.
Q. Can supplements interact with my prescription medications?
A. Natural essential nutrients are required by your body so they do not interact with your medication as they are intended to be part of your daily nutrition.
On the other hand Herbal Supplements are natural medicines which have the potential to interact with the medicines. A very good example is Grapefriut juice which has major interactions with many medicines. If you are on prescription medication then always consult your physician, pharmacist or naturopathic doctor before taking herbal supplements.
Q. Will Supplements cure or prevent a disease?
A. Supplements have the ability to both cure and prevent a disease but they should not replace the medicines because medicines have undergone long years of clinical and non clinical testing before becoming available in the market. This very lengthy and highly expensive research is the difference between supplements and medicines.
Nevertheless it should be kept in mind that many medicines are derived from supplements and natural herbs. E.g. In the past people used oil of wintergreen to relieve pain and fever. This wintergreen oil was researched upon and ASPIRIN was derived from it!
So supplements are natural medicines which are used for treating and preventing a disease. Who knows some supplements of today may be FDA approved prescription medicines of tomorrow.
Q. If supplements are so effective then why hasn’t the FDA approved them?
A. FDA only approves those medicines which have undergone painstakingly lengthy and expensive research. It takes a minimum of 5-6 years and millions of dollars for any drug to meet FDA approval criteria for public safety. This is usually done on someone else’s expenses.
So due to lack of funding to research the benefits of supplements and lack of safety data in special cases (like pregnancy) are the major reason that most of the supplements are not approved by FDA.
Also pharmaceutical companies do not want people to stop taking their medicines and resort to alternate ways of healing such as natural supplements and homeopathy. These companies hinder the research and approval of natural supplements under the fear that the FDA approval od supplements might lighten their wallets.
Information wants to be free. Whilst we cannot certify anything, we can bring you the facts and peoples’ opinions. GNet.org gives details on supplements, scientific studies and shared experiences of people who have benefited from them. We are focused on providing the best knowledge and guidance on natural supplements so that people may benefit from this outstanding alternate therapeutic solution which was in use long before the advent of modern medicine.