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Issue 27: To Supplement or Not to Supplement--That is the Question

To Supplement or Not to Supplement: That is the Question
We know that a healthy diet is the foundation of wellness. So if a person eats a normal diet, then he or she must not need to consider supplementation, right? Not necessarily.

Here’s a short list of why:


  • Lessened nutritional value of modern produce—soil depletion, pesticides, and more
  • Over-processed or manufactured foods with little nutritional value
  • Increased environmental pollution and its effects
  • Increased stress levels
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Reduced-caloric intake
  • The dislike of certain “good-for-you” foods
  • Lack of knowledge about what foods are nutritionally-dense for maximum returns health-wise
  • Lack of time to prepare nutritious foods, resulting in too many fast food runs
  • Aging, genetics, lifestyle, lack of sleep, lowered immune system, poor digestion…and the list goes on.

The truth is that few Americans get adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals solely from their diet, therefore making nutritional supplementation a viable option for optimal health. And the idea of supplementing the diet is catching on big time

The number of Americans who use dietary supplements is on the rise, according to an annual survey conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Washington, D.C.  In 2007, 68% of American adults said they take dietary supplements compared to 66% in 2006. And 52% of Americans say they are regular users of dietary supplement products, compared with only 46% in 2006.

Some estimates indicate that nearly 80% of adult Americans (many on a daily basis) take nutritional supplements--part of a growing trend as people take a proactive approach to their own health. They realize dietary supplements can play an important role in filling nutritional gaps.

And American consumers are not alone in their interest in dietary supplements. CRN’s recent Healthcare Professionals Impact Study found that “more than three-quarters of U.S. physicians (79%) and nurses (82%) recommend dietary supplements to their patients.” CRN expects these figures to increase as more study results come in on the health benefits of supplements.

Most experts agree that nutritional supplements are vital for a variety of illnesses, injuries, and age-related problems. Additionally, vitamin and mineral supplements can help maintain optimal physical and psychological health, while promoting a long life as well as chronic disease prevention. 

Even Congress addressed the relevancy of dietary supplementation through their Public Law 103-417, called DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act). On October 25, 1994 the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was amended by the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress concerning dietary supplements and was called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), Public Law 103-417, 103rd Congress. 

This Congressional act says much about dietary supplements and health, including these highlights:  (If you’re interested, the entire act can be found and read at:

  • Improving the health status of the United States ranks at the top of the national priorities of the Federal Government;
  • The importance of nutrition and the benefits of dietary supplements to health promotion and disease prevention have been documented increasingly in scientific studies;
  • There is a link between the ingestion of certain nutrients or dietary supplements and the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis;
  • Preventive health measures, including education, good nutrition, and appropriate use of safe nutritional supplements will limit the incidence of chronic diseases, and reduce long-term health care expenditures;
  • National surveys have revealed that almost 50 percent of the 260,000,000 Americans regularly consume dietary supplements of vitamins, minerals, or herbs as a means of improving their nutrition;
  • Studies indicate that consumers are placing increased reliance on the use of nontraditional health care providers to avoid the excessive costs of traditional medical services and to obtain more holistic consideration of their needs;
  • The nutritional supplement industry is an integral part of the economy of the United States;
  • Dietary supplements are safe within a broad range of intake, and safety problems with the supplements are relatively rare.

So, is diet alone enough for sustaining your health? Probably not.

Check back next week as we do some nutritional math on an average diet and what may be missing.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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