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What are Nutritional or Dietary Supplements?

They are substances that are taken to supplement our daily diet and can include any of the following: vitamin, mineral, herb or botanical, amino acid, or substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites.

Vitamins are organic substances that are either water soluble or fat soluble. These substances are essential to the body in generally very small quantities for normal growth and activity. They can be obtained in the diet through plant and animal foods, but the body cannot make them. Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fat tissue and liver for various amounts of time. When the body needs these vitamins, they are released for use. Vitamins D, A, E and K are the fat soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins do not get stored in your body. As they travel through your bloodstream, the body uses what it needs. The water soluble vitamins that the body doesn’t need get eliminated in the urine. Since these vitamins are not stored in the body, it is important that they get replaced frequently. Water soluble vitamins include: vitamin C, vitamin B1 or thiamin, vitamin B2 or riboflavin, vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B12 or cobalamin, biotin, and pantothenic acid.

Minerals are inorganic substances that the body requires for normal growth and activity. The body cannot make minerals so they must be obtained from the diet. Minerals fall into two categories: macrominerals or trace minerals. Macrominerals are ones that your body needs in larger amounts as compared to trace minerals. They include: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur. Trace minerals are needed by the body in very, tiny amounts. They include: iron, manganese, zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, chromium, molybdenum and fluoride.

Amino acids are the result of the breakdown of proteins we consume in our diet. The amino acids are then reused to make new proteins that our bodies need. There are many different amino acids, but 20 of them are very important in the human body. Of those 20 amino acids, 9 of them are essential and must be obtained in the foods we eat (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine). The body is capable of making the remaining amino acids. Protein from animal foods contains all of the essential amino acids. Most proteins from plant foods lack some of the essential amino acids. This does not mean you cannot get all of the essential amino acids if you are a vegetarian; you need to eat a wide variety of protein rich vegetables.

Fatty acids come from animal and vegetable fats and oils and are converted to energy by the body. Dietary fats can be saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated or trans fats. Saturated and monounsaturated fats can be made by the body so they do not need to be consumed in the diet. Polyunsaturated fats are called essential fats or ones that must be obtained from the food we eat. Not all fats are created equal. Saturated and trans fats are thought to contribute to the risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may actually lower blood cholesterol levels when they replace saturated and trans fats in the diet. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are important classes of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids. More and more scientific evidence is becoming available that supports the use of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids to help maintain a healthy body.

Should I Take Dietary Supplements?

It is always best to obtain the nutrients that our bodies need through our diet; however, this often times does not happen. Some supplements may help to fill in nutritional gaps and help you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients. Others may help to promote optimal health. One of the first steps you should take in deciding if you should take a nutritional supplement is honestly evaluate your diet. Do you have good dietary habits and are you meeting your nutritional needs? Another important step is to consult your health care provider. Dietary supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure disease. In some cases, dietary supplements may have unwanted effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other dietary supplements or medicines, or if you have certain health conditions. Do not self diagnose any health condition. Work with your health care provider to determine how best to achieve optimal health and always check with your health care provider before taking a supplement, especially when combining or substituting them with other foods or medicine. If you choose to take supplements, they should not replace prescribed medications or the variety of foods important to a healthful diet. MyNutraPack.com believes it is important to provide you with valuable information in order to have better communication with your health care provider and allow you to make an objective decision about taking supplements. We also feel that providing you with quality supplements and the ability for you to choose your own can help improve your life.

Where Can I Find Reliable Information About Nutritional Supplements?

Established scientific evidence supporting the use of some dietary supplements is available. Others need further study. Always be leery of statements in which it is claimed that supplement can “cure” the problem. Ask yourself if it is too good to be true? If it is, it probably isn’t a good solution. Is the information being provided by a reputable source? Below are some websites that provide reliable data about dietary supplements.

• Fact sheets on dietary supplements from the National Institutes of Health: http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/Health_Information/Information_About_Individual_Dietary_Supplements.aspx
• Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA): http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx
• IBIDS database of dietary supplement literature: http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/Health_Information/IBIDS.aspx
• Dietary supplement warnings and safety information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/ds-warn.html
• Consumer information from the Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp
• MedlinePlus homepage: http://medlineplus.gov/
• FDA Dietary Supplements: http://www.fda.gov/food/dietarysupplements/default.htm
• FDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/

How Do I Read A Dietary Supplement Label?

A: Serving size is the manufacturer’s suggested serving expressed in the appropriate unit (tablet, capsule, softgel)
B: Percent Daily Value (DV) tells what percentage of the recommended daily intake for each nutrient for adults and children ages 4 and up is provided by the supplement.
C: International Unit (IU) is a standard unit of measurement for fat soluble vitamins D,A, and E
D: Milligram (mg) and microgram (mcg) are units of measurement for water soluble vitamins (C and B complex) and minerals.
E: An asterisk under the “Percent Daily Value” heading indicates that a Daily Value is not established for that nutrient.
F: The list of other ingredients used to formulate the supplement.