As soon as we sit down to do their Wellness and Prevention Plan, many of my clients start talking about how many “supplements” they are taking. Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B’s are usually in the conversation. Put bluntly, this is not supplementation. This is nutraceutical therapy and there is a big difference between the two, although the nuance is not popularly recognized.
Nutraceutical and/or nutritional therapy fall within the allopathic, disease/treatment paradigm. A vitamin, mineral, or nutrient is prescribed to a patient based on signs and symptoms of a disease or illness. Many of these nutrients are readily found in the diet, as long as the person is eating what they are supposed to (i.e. genome centric). These treatments are individualistic, based on the individual’s diagnosis and generally used for a limited time.
As nutraceutical therapy is to the disease/treatment paradigm, supplementation is to the wellness/prevention paradigm. Hippocrates once said, “Let food thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” That mantra has become harder and harder to live by due to industrialization and commercialization of our food sources. True supplementation, as opposed to nutraceutical therapy, focuses on providing the sufficient amount of an essential nutrient which is not readily available in the human diet. Any vitamin, mineral, and/or nutrient that our genome requires used to be found in our diet. Some such vitamins, minerals, or nutrients are no longer part of a regularly accessible diet or environment, hence the need for supplementation.
An essential nutrient is based on the genetic requirement of that species. Every member of that particular species requires the same essential nutrients, not just for a short period of time, but for life. Can you think of any nutrient that one giraffe needs more than another giraffe? Is there any member of a species in the animal kingdom that has different nutritional needs than another member of its own species? Why would it be any different for the human species?
Essential, in biochemical terms, means that this specific nutrient cannot be produced by the body, therefore it must be ingested or absorbed from the environment, by every member of that species, for life. True supplementation is not individualistic, like nutriceuticals, but rather, is species specific and species wide. One species, one diet.
There are only three essential nutrients that require supplementation when following a genome-centric nutritional plan: omega-3, vitamin D, and probiotics.
Although rare given our widespread industrialized food production processes, there are some humans who may ingest plenty of omega-3, vitamin D, and probiotics naturally to avoid some or all supplementation. In the next few weeks we will discuss these occasions, as well go into detail as to how important these essential nutrients are for disease prevention.