Is nutritional supplementation really necessary?

All the foods we eat today are subjected to numerous processes that profoundly affect their nutritional value. Nutritional supplementation is therefore crucial in order to incorporate into our organism what is no longer contained in our diet.

In addition to ensuring adequate levels of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), antioxidants or other elements, contributing extra supplements is one of the best options for preventing premature ageing and the emergence of numerous diseases. Nutritional supplementation is therefore one of the basic treatments used in medicine to combat the many situations of imbalance, weakness or even disease that may occur throughout our lives.

Tania Mesa – Director of the Neolife Nutrition and Nursing Unit

Estefania Schoendorff- Neolife Nutrition and Nursing Unit

The food arriving on our table today is not the same as it was 25 years ago.

Today, with all the information available to us, we can end up being highly confused about the true benefits and harms of nutritional supplementation and the need to include them or not in our diet. It is important to contrast the different theories, investigate their scientific thoroughness and, above all, consult with real experts in nutrition so we can clear up all our doubts about it. Our health professional will know how to answer our questions and point us in the right direction so that our diet is balanced and has a beneficial effect on our health and ageing. Believing blindly in certain theories or in information that isn’t thorough or without a proven scientific basis can have a very negative impact on our health, both in the short and long term.

While the genetics of humans has changed very little in the last 10,000 years ago, everything that surrounds them has undergone great and profound transformations.
Thus, after centuries of exploitation, the land being cultivated is no longer the same and has lost nutrients. Crops are treated with chemical products (pesticides and preservatives), cattle are fed with feed that is mixed with hormones and antibiotics, the air that we breathe every day is more polluted and has higher CO2 levels – in 2015 where we were already referring to its harmful effect (1)-.

foods we shouldn’t eat

So, all the steps that the vast majority of the foods we eat today go through mean they are therefore subject – from their origin as a “simple seed” until they are in our fridge – to numerous processes that profoundly affect their nutritional value. For example, in 1948 a spinach plant contained 158 milligrams of iron; 25 years later the same amount contained less than 2.2 milligrams, so how many spinach should we eat today to ingest the same amount of iron as 25 years ago? The right answer is about 75 portions …

It’s a widely demonstrated fact that the food that comes to our table today is not the same as 25 years ago, not even those that we grow in our garden using traditional methods, because it’s not even the same air that farm animals breathe, nor are our crops the same, nor the conditions for hunting or fishing, etc. This inevitably affects our biomarkers, demonstrating that although we lead a healthy life, with good stress management and with a balanced diet, we may still have significant deficiencies (2).

Nutritional supplementation is therefore needed to incorporate into our organism what the food we eat no longer contains. Yet it is very important to bear in mind that an excessive, uncontrolled or indiscriminate (non-personalized) supplementation can also be detrimental to our health.

To begin with nutritional supplementation, it is essential to know which biomarkers are altered in our analytical profile and to assess the appropriate concentrations to ensure that it has the beneficial effect that we seek and doesn’t adversely affect our health. This assessment can only be carried out by a healthcare professional who knows how to interpret this information. Like any pharmacological product, however “natural” it may be, it needs to be previously measured and adjusted to the “patient’s” condition. It is no use supplementing with any product or any concentration, but rather that which really exerts its beneficial effect on each individual. When a nutritional supplement fails to affect the corresponding biomarkers this is because it is not appropriate; hence the “it is not working” feeling that we get in all those cases where we take food supplements without the control of a specialist, influenced by trends or industrial pressure.

In addition to ensuring adequate levels of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), antioxidants or other elements, contributing supplements is one of the best options for preventing premature ageing and the emergence of numerous diseases. However, nutritional supplementation is especially effective in adulthood and when the first symptoms and signs of old age begin to appear (3).

The SENECA study (Study of The European Nutrition of The Elderly, Concerted Action) reveals that, in Spain, despite the consumption of fish and the fact that it is a country with many hours of sunshine, the levels of vitamin D are much lower than in northern European countries. Therefore, despite living in favorable conditions, Spaniards need to take vitamin D supplements.

It is important to remember that the expression “nutritional supplement” refers to an additional contribution to a balanced diet. Nutritional supplementation is meaningless without a balanced diet, and vice versa.

At Neolife we’ve been working for years to prescribe a safe, effective nutritional supplementation that ispersonalized and adapted to the diet of each and every one of our patients, providing them with all the necessary information for their correct consumption. Specifically, in our centers we meticulously measure the biomarkers (homocysteine, 25-OH-cholecalciferol, iron, calcium , omega 3, etc.) needed to assess and adjust nutritional supplementation by carrying out regular analytical controls, since without them the effectiveness of nutritional supplementation in general cannot be assessed.