camera

Nutraceuticals vs. Supplements, Which Is Better?

BY Carly Deacon

Posted on , Reading Time: 2 min

Nutraceuticals are products derived from food sources that provide further health benefits beyond that found in our food due to concentration and combinations. They are used to control symptoms, prevent chronic disease, support the structure and function of the body, and manage specific underlying conditions. Nutraceuticals can come in the form of isolated nutrients, dietary supplements, herbal products, and targeted nutrition programs.

Quality is extremely important when choosing nutraceuticals. Many supplements are not required by law to be tested for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed, usually because they are presumed to be safe based on their history of use in humans. It’s very difficult to determine the quality of the product based only on the label. The quality of control in production relies entirely on the manufacturer. Different batches can even be sold under the same label while being produced in entirely different factories. This is why it’s really important to only purchase nutraceuticals from reputable, practitioner-grade production companies and avoid purchasing supplements at most drug or grocery stores.

Additives detract from quality

Additives are another issue that is often found in supplements available in your typical grocery and health food stores. Sodium benzoate, for example, is a fairly common additive, which requires processing through our sulfation pathway and can lead to depletion of nutrient absorption. Many additives can cause issues in sensitive people, like gluten, egg, soy, dairy, hydrogenated vegetable oils, coatings, binders, fillers, shellac, and artificial sweeteners or colours.

There are some known herb-medication or nutraceutical-medication interactions that need to be monitored and avoided. Our practitioners are well versed with working around these nutrient/drug interactions via databases and extended clinical experience. It is important to work with a health-care team when choosing to use nutraceuticals with prescription drugs, to ensure there are no harmful interactions.

Safe to take with pharmaceuticals?

Certain medications themselves can also deplete nutrient levels, which then require further supplementation via nutraceuticals or targeted nutrition plans. These depleted nutrient levels can cause extensive symptoms and may lead to further issues, so understanding the “downstream” effects of prescription drugs use is also an important factor to consider.

There are multiple reasons to use nutraceuticals. Many people define health as the absence of pain or disease. However, our bodies are always under certain levels of stress due to environmental factors, genetic mutations, and true psychological stress. Although it may seem as though your body is coping right now, it is in fact under stress, and depleting its resources to maintain its processes and equilibrium. Most diseases and conditions are silent in the early stages, and it is difficult for many people to notice symptoms like low energy levels or cognitive decline since many symptoms like this often creep up gradually, creating a new normal and therefore raise no red flags.

Conclusion

Even if the right ingredients are present in your diet, you can experience malabsorption due to gut dysfunction or imbalance, which leads to eventual nutrient deficiencies. Pesticides, low-quality produce, large quantities of processed food, alcohol and caffeine consumption, mold exposure, and consumption of allergenic foods can damage the intestinal lining, making absorption of nutrients extremely difficult.

Nutraceuticals solve this problem by supplying our body with concentrated amounts of nutrients to support our body in the areas with the highest demand.