Specialised supplements are normally combinations of nutrients and herbs aimed at one particular health issue or health parameter. For instance, Lestrin is a supplement with high levels of sterols and sterolins that has been shown to improve the cholesterol balance by ensuring the liver produces more of the appropriate enzymes. There will be many instances of specialised supplements,
Supplements as generally understood include vitamins, minerals, fibre, fatty acids, or amino acids, among other substances . A dietary supplement should meet the following criteria:-
- The product is intended to supplement a person's diet, despite it not being usable as a meal replacement.
- The product contains a vitamin, dietary element, herb or botanical used as a medicinal plant, amino acid, any substance which contributes to other food eaten, or any concentrate, metabolite, ingredient, extract, or combination of these things.
The benefits of supplements and, in particular multivitamins, is open to question but some of the arguments in favour of them having health promoting values are as follows:
Broad wholesome diets cannot claim to achieve optimum level for all nutrients
Longevity and good health is a post code, geographical and dietary lottery, indicating that many communities and nations do not optimise their intake of nutrients through diet alone and require them to be supplemented
Nutrients in food have fallen significantly during the last century and correspondingly degenerative diseases have risen significantly
Research studies on the health of people from using food supplements have been limited whilst the science behind the development of supplements often shows specific health benefits
As we age, or are health compromised, achieving the appropriate intake of nutrients by diet alone is problematic
It is not only the potential nutrient intake that can be optimised by supplementation but also metabolites and cellular biochemicals. For instance Co-enzyme Q10,-which is predominantly generated by the liver- but decreases with use of certain medicines, or as we age, or under stress or during illness. Co-enzyme Q10 is vital to our cellular energy. Some instances of deficiency can be corrected by supplementation. In this instance a recovery of energy can be realised.
By careful selection and, by being properly informed, supplements can boost health or help recovery from ill health.