Many individuals strive to optimize their diet and lifestyle for overall well-being. While it is widely acknowledged that a nutritious diet forms the foundation of good health, there is a growing body of research that shows the role of dietary supplements as an adjunct to achieving optimal nutrition. As a holistic pharmacist with a passion for promoting a balanced approach to health, I firmly recommend dietary supplements as a complement to a wholesome diet, though they cannot replace it. Let’s delve into specific examples where supplements play a crucial role in meeting nutritional needs that food alone cannot satisfy.
Shortcomings of a Nutritious Diet
While a nutrient-dense diet should always be the primary focus, dietary supplements can play a valuable role in filling potential nutritional gaps. These gaps can arise due to individual dietary preferences, limited food availability, or specific health conditions that may increase nutrient requirements. Dietary supplements can provide a convenient and effective way to ensure an adequate intake of certain nutrients.
There are instances where even the most balanced diet may fall short in meeting specific nutritional needs. For example, individuals following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet may have difficulty obtaining sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, which is predominantly found in animal-based foods. In such cases, a B12 supplement can be crucial to prevent deficiencies and support optimal nerve function and red blood cell production.
Antioxidants, which are primarily obtained from consuming fruit, may also be lacking in the diet. Berries are particularly high in antioxidants and offer specific benefits for the brain, heart, and bladder. Yet, consuming enough berries to get the benefits can be costly and inconvenient. One example of a berry that offers specific therapeutic benefits is cranberry. Several studies have shown that the proanthocyanidins (PACs) in cranberries can help support bladder health and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, making cranberries a good choice for preventative measures.
Getting enough PACs from consuming cranberries is challenging. Consuming large quantities of cranberry juice is calorie-intensive and can be inconvenient. Moreover, many cranberry products, such as juices and dried cranberries, are laden with added sugars and preservatives, diluting their health benefits. This is where a supplement can be helpful by providing a standardized amount of these beneficial antioxidants to support bladder health.
Garlic is another example of a food that offers numerous health benefits, however difficult to get sufficient quantities through diet alone. Garlic is widely revered for its benefits for the heart, immune system and the prevention of many chronic health conditions. The challenge with garlic, however, is that eating a lot of fresh garlic can leave you with garlic breath, gas and an upset stomach.
The majority of the clinical research on garlic has been conducted on a garlic supplement that is made from aged garlic extract (AGE). In fact, AGE has been the subject of more than 900 published scientific papers supporting its efficacy. This particular type of garlic is made from a unique aging process that enhances its bioavailability and bioactivity, making it a superior option to obtain the full spectrum of garlic’s health-promoting compounds. The aging process also eliminates the harsh garlic compounds, which are responsible for the odor and side effects.
AGE contains potent antioxidants, such as S-allyl cysteine (SAC), S-allylmercaptocysteine (SAMC), and other compounds which are not as readily available in fresh garlic. Incorporating AGE supplements into one’s routine offers a convenient and effective way to harness the diverse benefits of garlic for cardiovascular support, immune function, and overall well-being, particularly for those who may not enjoy the pungent taste of raw garlic or have difficulty incorporating garlic into their daily diet.
Combination Supplements Boost Nutrition Gaps
Combination supplements offer a comprehensive approach to nutrition by integrating a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals into a single formula. These supplements are designed to address multiple health issues simultaneously, offering convenience, cost-effectiveness, and targeted support for specific concerns.
One example of a combination supplement is a daily multivitamin. These products typically contain a blend of essential vitamins and minerals, tailored to support overall health, and fill potential gaps in the diet. A daily multivitamin can be especially beneficial for individuals with busy lifestyles or those who may have difficulty consistently meeting their nutritional needs through food alone.
One of my favorite combination supplements, especially for women, is found in Kyo-Dophilus Cran+ Probiotic. This combination supplement contains The Friendly Trio, a blend of three biocompatible human strain probiotics along with the extensively researched Cran-Max cranberry extract. Together in one capsule, this supplement offers a powerful solution for enhancing both gut and urinary tract health. These probiotics and cranberry ingredients synergistically support urinary tract health by promoting a balanced gut microbiome and preventing bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. Clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of cranberry and probiotics in supporting bladder and digestive health, making Kyo-Dophilus Cran+ Probiotic a comprehensive solution for those seeking holistic support for both their gut and urinary wellness.
Rounding out my recommendations for combination supplements that pack the most punch for your health brings me back to our discussion on aged garlic extract (AGE) and vitamin B12. Renowned for supporting immune function, cardiovascular health, and providing antioxidant properties, garlic is an essential addition to any health-conscious individual’s routine, but not so practical to eat every day. Plus, garlic used in cooking will not give you the same benefits as an AGE supplement. To harness the full potential of garlic’s benefits, I frequently recommend Wakunaga’s Kyolic supplement line, which offers extensively researched and scientifically-backed AGE combination formulas. For example, Kyolic’s Formula 101 Stress & Fatigue Relief is a powerful supplement that contains AGE, along with essential nutrients like GABA and vitamins B1, B6, and B12. Vitamin B12, in particular, plays a crucial role in energy metabolism and neurological health, while AGE has long been celebrated for its immune-boosting properties and overall wellness benefits. This combination supplement helps reduce fatigue and stress but also strengthens your immune system, supporting your body’s natural balance and vitality.
Supplementation is Key
As a holistic pharmacist, my aim is to promote a holistic approach to health, where diet, lifestyle, and supplements work together to create a foundation for well-being. By understanding the unique advantages of supplements and identifying specific areas where dietary intake may be insufficient, individuals can make informed choices and improve their overall health and vitality.
While dietary supplements should never be seen as a substitute for a nutrient-rich diet, they can certainly serve as a valuable addition to one’s nutritional approach. Combination supplements, in particular, offer a convenient and targeted means of addressing multiple health issues. By providing concentrated doses of essential nutrients, they can help bridge potential nutritional gaps and enhance overall well-being.
Vitamin B12, cranberries, and aged garlic extract (AGE) highlight situations where even the most well-planned diet may fall short. By incorporating supplements wisely, health-conscious individuals can optimize their nutritional intake and embark on a path towards optimal health and vitality.