Approximately half the population in western countries takes supplements on a daily basis. Women, children, a growing aging population, and increasing consumer awareness about general health heavily contributes to the popularity of supplements. The global supplement market is $82 billion and the US contributes $37 billion to that number. Faced with countless options and a worldwide market, choosing supplements can be overwhelming. Rarely are consumers supplied with sufficient scientific information upon which to base their decisions and they usually rely on a company’s marketing materials.
The supplement market offers a variety of products in the form of tablets, capsules, soft gels, liquids, chewables, and powders. Each has specific applications but there is confusion about the pros and cons of each of them. Consumer education can bring a better understanding of the advances in supplement research and today’s far superior manufacturing technology. Armed with knowledge consumers can make supplement choices based upon what is best for their health needs rather than product format or impressive marketing and packaging.
Sugar is required for production of bioenergy and other metabolic processes taking place in our body cells. Though sugar is an important part of our diet, the simple fact is that our consumption of sugar largely exceeds our body’s metabolic needs. The modern diet contains approximately 50-80 grams of sugar and most of it is derived from fructose. Fructose is metabolized differently in the body than glucose is. Present in soft drinks and most types of processed food and sweets, the consequences of excessive fructose consumption are dangerous and it has been associated with an increase in diabetes, heart disease and many other health problems.
Everyone is exposed to a variety of infectious agents in the environment such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Any seasonal change challenges our immune system with new pathogens. This year - even before the start of the flu season - the World Health Organization has declared Zika virus infections an international public health emergency. The Zika virus is not a new virus and is similar to other viruses transmitted by mosquitoes such as West Nile virus, dengue, yellow fever, and Japanese encephalitis. The symptoms of Zika virus infection are similar to normal flu symptoms. They include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, rash and conjunctivitis. Often there are no symptoms, and in most cases people are not aware that they are infected while they are spreading the virus. Currently, mosquito control is the only way for prevention from Zika infection and there are no treatments available. Therefore, it would be prudent to understand how to support our body’s immune system and protect it against Zika or other viral and infectious pathogens.
Vitamin C is a vital nutrient for human health and survival. It is not only a powerful antioxidant and immune booster, but it also supports collagen connective tissue formation and builds extracellular matrix, which is the “glue” that binds the body’s cells together. It is important for faster wound healing and prevention of various chronic conditions. Optimum amounts of vitamin C effectively protect the body and cardiovascular system against biological rusting. Additionally, there are several other important functions of vitamin C. It is a cofactor for a series of biological enzymes, which are important for the improved metabolism of cholesterol, triglycerides and other risk factors of heart disease. It is an important energy molecule needed to recharge energy carriers inside the cells. Vitamin C is essential for production of carnitine, the molecule that carries fatty acids into the mitochondria for energy production. It participates in biological recycling of vitamin E, glutathione and many other cell protective molecules, and when taken together with calcium, it increases calcium absorption. Vitamin C neutralizes various toxins in the body, and protects healthy cells from harmful substances and the effects of many pharmaceutical drugs.
The skin is not only the largest organ in the body, it is also a mirror of the health of the body’s internal organs. In addition to protection of inner tissue structures, the skin helps in regulation of body temperature and elimination of metabolic waste products. Many diseases of the digestive, cardiovascular, and nervous systems, and hormonal imbalances and inflammatory conditions are reflected on the skin. With approximately 20 square feet of surface area, the skin is primarily taken care of for cosmetic appeal. Thousands of skin care products cater to beauty and health conscious consumers who hope to avoid acne, discoloration and signs of aging, as well as skin cancer. It is estimated that the global skin care products industry revenue will be $102.3 billion by 2018.
Scurvy (known as “Sailor’s disease”) is a condition resulting from a complete depletion of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). It is a fatal disease characterized by a slow dissolution of connective tissue throughout the body including the walls of the blood vessels. This disease was quite common in earlier centuries, especially among sailors whose diet was deprived of vitamin C. During long voyages at sea many died within months from tremendous blood loss. Today fully developed scurvy is rare; however, subclinical scurvy is very common especially in the elderly, infants, children on special diets, and people with poor dietary habits.
Heart attacks and strokes have consistently remained the leading causes of deaths. Atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of these diseases, results in 17 million deaths each year. Yet, high blood cholesterol levels, a fatty diet, and obesity have been blamed as the causes of heart disease. However, cutting down dietary fat and the artificial reduction of blood cholesterol with cholesterol-reducing medicines have not been successful in addressing this issue. Atherosclerotic plaques occur primarily in the coronary arteries rather than in the entire 60000-mile-long vascular system. The absence of plaque in the veins and the fact that animals do not suffer from atherosclerosis while humans do cannot be explained by conventional medicine and the cholesterol theory of heart disease.
After heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. One in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in their lifetime. Despite novel initiatives, the American Cancer Society estimates that by 2020 the number of new cancers will increase to more than one million cases per year in men, and more than 900,000 cases per year in women. Melanoma, lung, breast, and prostate cancer are the most commonly diagnosed among the new cancers. Although cigarette smoking - the most common risk factor for cancer - still remains high, obesity and other metabolic disorders can contribute to and increase breast, colon, uterus, pancreas, and kidney cancers.
Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes, continue to be the leading causes of deaths resulting in more than 17 million deaths each year worldwide. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) manifests as atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, and heart failure and has many more symptoms affecting the heart and blood vessels. Additionally, other metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes further increase the risk of CVD.