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Health and Wellness
Nutraceuticals and Supplements Are Not the Same
Wellness Consultant
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 • Posted March 29, 2012 10:34 AM

Let’s celebrate March as Nutritional Month by learning a few new terms and some facts about our diets as well as our use of supplements. Dietary supplement is a legal term; there is no scientific definition for it.

Nutraceutical is defined as any substance considered a food, or a part of a food, that provides medical or health benefits. The difference between a nutraceutical and a nutritional supplement is that the nutraceutical will have the clinical data behind it.

In “Biochemistry of Foods and Supplements" an article written by Judith DeCava states that to isolate or separate a vitamin, mineral, amino acid or other component and call it a nutrient is just as impractical as isolating a steering wheel, battery or carburetor and calling it an automobile. It won't work without the other parts.

Vitamins are not individual molecular compounds. Vitamins are biological complexes. They are multi-step biochemical interactions whose action is dependent upon a number of variables within the biological terrain. Vitamin activity only takes place when all conditions are met within that environment, and when all co-factors and components of the entire vitamin complex are present and working together. Vitamins cannot be isolated from their complexes and still perform their specific life functions within the cells. When isolated into artificial commercial forms, like ascorbic acid, these purified synthetics act as drugs in the body. They are no longer vitamins, and to call them such is inaccurate.

Selective absorption, a term very seldom explained to us, simply means that the body must choose what it needs and when it needs a nutrient to keep itself metabolically sound. It is not how much we put in the body, but how much the body can absorb over a long period of time. Our bodies only absorb small amounts of nutrients at any single moment, not the huge amounts contained in most synthetic supplements, if the synthetics are absorbed at all. Normal amounts, rather than mega doses of bioavailable nutrients, taken daily, correlate with the laws of Nature.

A major report from Oxford University July of 2002 stated that vitamin pills have no health benefits and are a major waste of money. The report goes on to state that they give no protection against diseases, including serious illnesses such as cancer, strokes or heart disease. And those who take them would be better off simply spending their cash on fruits and vegetables.

Manufacturing companies will never be able to duplicate the formulas found in nature. Each food is a virtual chemical factory containing as many as 10,000 or more elements. If the label states that there are so many grams or milligrams or International Units of a vitamin or mineral in their product then it cannot be just whole food. They have fortified and fragmented it and probably the food that it does contain has been cooked. Is the nutritional supplement you are taking bioavailable in your body? What is the quantitative analysis of the product? In other words, where are the studies that say what is on the label is in the product.

A report of 257 supplements tested (by the way there are over 28,000 of them out there) showed only 49 had what they said was in it compared to what was on the label. The FDA in January of 2003 cautioned the makers of foods and dietary supplements that they must get FDA approval before putting any claims on their products. This will help consumers get accurate, science-based information necessary to improve their health.

The American Nutraceutical Association (ANA), established in 1997, is committed to providing guidance on nutraceutical products that is based on good science, not on marketing hype. The ANA publishes the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association (JANA), a quarterly peer-reviewed journal on nutraceuticals and nutrition. JANA contains original research and comprehensive reviews of articles, along with editorials, book reviews, and interviews with physicians, researchers and other leaders in the clinical use of nutraceuticals.

Nature, if given the opportunity, is always the greatest healer. So what can we do?

It's simple: look on the label. After each vitamin mentioned, if it lists a chemical, the vitamin is a synthetic. If it lists a growing plant like peppers, orange peel, or even mushrooms, that's a whole food vitamin.

After that, you may wish to inform yourself about the processing, if possible. Even good sources can be rendered vitamin-less by heating or cheap stabilization processes. After you get the hang of it you'll soon wonder why nobody told you about something this obvious years ago.

Disclaimer: Facts in these articles are obtained from medical and clinical journals, scientific publications, and published trade books. These articles have been written and published strictly for information purposes. Consult your health care provider for your specific medical needs. For any questions, comments or suggestions contact Maryella at or

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