Why do I need nutritional supplements?

For more than 50 years, the general public has been led to believe that RDA nutrient levels are adequate, but adequate for what? Adequate to prevent clinically obvious nutritional deficiencies like scurvy, beriberi, rickets, and pellagra?

According to the Food and Nutrition Board (under the umbrella of the National Institutes of Health): “The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the requirement of nearly all apparently healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.”

The Food and Nutrition Board further defines “requirement” as: “…the lowest continuing intake level of a nutrient that, for a specified indicator of adequacy, will maintain a defined level of nutriture in an individual.”

The RDA is – by definition – the lowest level of nutrient intake necessary to prevent deficiencies. This is clearly important for helping individuals avoid acute deficiency diseases, but it fails to address the issue of optimal nutrition.

It is wonderful that the RDAs have been so successful in reducing blatant deficient diseases (including scurvy, pellagra, rickets and beriberi) to their lowest levels in recorded history. However, as more and more of the general population is able to meet minimal nutrient requirements, new questions arise. For example, are RDA levels of vitamins and minerals enough to help prevent other degenerative diseases?  What about providing protection from oxidative damage?

At USANA, we believe there are more benefits to nutritional supplementation than merely preventing increasingly rare deficiency diseases.

USANA’s products are formulated with the most up-to-date nutritional research in mind, which may or may not have relevance to the RDAs. Rather than just looking to prevent total vitamin deficiencies, we are concerned with the vast majority of people who are “apparently” healthy. Many degenerative diseases and chronic illnesses develop over a lifetime, striking otherwise healthy individuals when they least expect it. For the millions of “apparently” healthy individuals in the world, minimal nutrient intakes may not be adequate to address modern health challenges.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), much of the illness, disability, and death associated with chronic disease is avoidable through known prevention measures. Furthermore, recent studies examining the potential economic benefits of vitamin supplementation have concluded that substantial cost reductions can be associated with the use of vitamin supplements, based on principles of preventative nutrition.

One question that commonly arises is, “if I eat a healthy diet, do I still need to take supplements?” Let it be clearly stated that a healthy diet is a necessary foundation for any program of optimal nutrition, and there is no substitute for eating well. In this context, USANA’s nutritional supplements are designed to complement a healthy diet, not replace it. USANA supplements are designed to provide advanced levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are difficult to obtain from diet alone – levels that individuals can use every day to promote a lifetime of good health.

USANA researchers are certainly not the only group convinced of the health benefits of nutritional supplements. In June 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association published two articles by health researchers at Harvard University. The articles were entitled “Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults”. Through their research, these independent researchers concluded:

“…suboptimal intake of some vitamins, above levels causing classic vitamin deficiency, is a risk factor for chronic diseases and common in the general population, especially the elderly. Suboptimal folic acid levels, along with suboptimal levels of vitamins B6 and B12, are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects, and colon and breast cancer; low levels of vitamin D contribute to osteopenia and fractures; and low levels of the antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, E and C) may increase risk for several chronic diseases.”

Another more recent study, published in 2012, also in the Journal of the American Medical Association assessed the effect of “Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men”. This was large, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, that included 14,641 male physicians as the study group, and follow-up took place over an average of 11.2 years. They concluded that:

“A daily multivitamin supplement significantly but modestly reduced the risk of total cancer during a mean of 11 years of treatment and follow-up. Although the main reason to take multivitamins is to prevent nutritional deficiency, these data provide support for the potential use of multivitamin supplements in the prevention of cancer.”

The scientific evidence supporting health benefits of nutritional supplements is solid and growing daily, and more health care professionals than ever before are now siding with these conclusions.

At USANA, we believe there has never been a better time to put the science of nutrition to work in promoting your health.

Here is another page that discusses the Health Benefits of Nutritional Supplements, and provides a large list of references to literature on the subject.

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