Nutritional Supplements / Nutraceuticals are often administered to patients and include a nutrient or group of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fats, and oils). Nutritional supplements come in a variety of forms: pills, capsules, powders, liquids, and even in gel form. Often in today’s rigorous lifestyle along with poor diet, a patient may become depleted of essential nutrients, at which point a nutritional supplement or nutraceutical may be required.

The majority of adults in the United States take one or more dietary supplements either every day or occasionally. This is largely due to the fact that as a whole, the American population is overfed but undernourished. In addition to nutrient-poor, processed foods, a diet high in inflammatory foods can also cause nutrient deficiencies (gluten, grains, dairy, sugar, etc). A lack of nutrients leads to a compromised, weakened immune system, which ultimately leads to a decline in health.

Even people that are eating full meals are malnourished, and supplements cannot take the place of the variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet. GMO foods, for example, are such an embedded part of our food system these days, though the debate surrounding their long-term effects is a fierce one. Regardless of differing opinions on GMO’s, it is safe to say that nutrient depletion has been a problem since well before the advent of genetic engineering of crops. Factors in the decline of nutritional content include increases in carbon dioxide, farming practices, soil conditions, and a host of other environmental changes.

Also important to consider is the quality of supplements that exist in pharmacies across the nation. Nutritional supplements should consist of high-quality nutrients that are easily absorbed by the body. The nutritional ingredients employed today in wholesale commerce satisfy the requirements placed by pharmaceutical concerns with respect to the quantities of individual constituents, but do not, however, conform to the expectations of quality. And we all know any product can only be as good as the quality of its raw materials.

Benefits of Nutritional Supplements

Clinical experience has shown that nutritional supplements may be used for a number of health issues and that the benefits include:

  • Compensation for low levels of nutrients in the body due to an imbalanced diet
  • Regulation of important bodily functions, including blood sugar levels, immune system, production of enzymes, production or elimination of hormones, tissue maintenance and repair, and neutralization of free radicals
  • Provides immune support, e.g. genes involved in immune responses are regulated by Vitamin A
  • Helps maintain energy levels, e.g. vitamin B12 is needed to convert carbohydrates into glucose in the body in order to use it as a form of energy
  • Lowers the risk of heart attack, e.g. Vitamin K has been shown to help prevent calcification of arteries, one of the leading causes of heart attacks
Related: Is NYCIM Right for You? Find Out with Our Patient Questionnaire

Here’s How it Works

As part of an integrative program of treatment, nutritional supplements or nutraceuticals are commonly used for a variety of reasons, primarily to make up for low levels of nutrients in the body. The theory behind the mode of action of nutraceuticals is to provide functional benefits by increasing the supply of natural building blocks in the body. Replacement of these building blocks can work in two ways: to diminish signs of disease or to improve performance. The use of nutraceuticals as performance enhancers is much more common than the treatment of disease.

Nutritional/nutraceutical therapies use a variety of naturally derived substances (mostly from plants) to help patients receive nutrients they might otherwise be lacking. Micronutrient deficiencies are common in our population, and with a sharp rise in processed foods, these deficiencies are increasing. Administering a specific nutritional supplement or nutraceutical can act as a gap for poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle habits, and ensure that a patient is nutritionally well-balanced.

Today’s dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbals and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, probiotics, and many other products. They come in a variety of forms, from traditional tablets, capsules, and powders, to drinks and energy bars. Popular supplements include vitamins D and E; minerals like calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and specialty products like glucosamine, probiotics, and fish oils. These vitamins are important to the body since they tend to prevent oxidative reactions which can lead to most degenerative diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The market for nutraceuticals is booming, and there are many products available that have not been tested for either safety or efficacy. It is important for a consumer to know that the grade, form, purity, bioavailability and third party verification all contribute to the effectiveness of the product they’re ingesting.

“There are a lot of deficiencies people have…like chromium, like magnesium, biotin, vitamin D, zinc, omega 3 fats. We need these additional nutrients because our soils, our farming techniques, our food processing and our food distribution systems result in nutrient depleted foods.”

MARK HYMAN, MD

Science and Safety

A metabolite of vitamin A, retinoic acid plays a significant role in cell growth and differentiation. Studies have shown that retinoic acid may cause the cell death of cancer cells. As high doses may be toxic to cells, it is probably best to utilize as a potential supplement in one’s daily diet to prevent or suppress cancer progression.
sourceRetinoic acid and cancer treatment, Biomedicine (Taipei), 2014

Researchers have shown that infants are born with a vitamin K deficiency. A severe deficiency could cause diseases such as hemorrhagic disease, known as HDN.
sourceVitamin K in neonates: how to administer, when and to whom, Paediatr Drugs, 2001

Studies have shown that depression could be associated with a low level of vitamin B12 and folic acid. They are needed as a major determinant of one-carbon metabolism, which produces the compound called SAM (S-adenosyl methionine). SAM is crucial for neurological function, dealing with stress and mood regulation.
sourceTreatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12, J Psychopharmacol. 2005

Nutritional supplements are safe to use and can be taken when a deficiency or need is diagnosed. However, it is important that you take these supplements in a form that is suited to your body. Also, you should consult a nutritionist or a physician regarding the number of supplements that you need to use because an overdose can result in serious medical conditions.

Even some supplements, when taken in inappropriate amounts, can cause problems. For example, too much vitamin A can reduce bone density, cause birth defects, and lead to liver damage, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

NYCIM + Nutritional Supplements/Nutraceuticals

At the New York Center of Innovative Medicine, nutritional supplementation, whether oral or intravenous, is one of many different treatment options considered for each patient. Our center has a fully stocked dispensary with numerous different nutritional supplements, nutraceuticals, minerals, probiotics, and specialized dietary supplements, each specifically tested and brought in from high-quality manufacturers from around the world. However, the use of any nutritional supplement is only provided to patients after an in-depth initial evaluation reveals it would be necessary for your personalized program of treatment. Because each person is unique, and their health needs are different, there is no set protocol for using nutritional supplements nor is the patient able to request the use of specific supplements if the medical team finds it would not be as helpful as another treatment or a specific combination of other supplements and therapies. The ultimate goal is the complete restoration of health in the most efficient and safe manner, and with so many therapeutic options, it is impossible to know if any nutritional supplement is right for you without an initial evaluation at our clinic.

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About NYCIM

Under the direction of distinguished physician Thomas K. Szulc, MD, the New York Center for Innovative Medicine (NYCIM) is a world-renowned healing center that considers a patient as a unique individual with incredible healing abilities. We employ over 75 therapies that range from advanced healing technologies to spiritual techniques, each patient is provided a personalized program to restore health on all levels - body, mind, and spirit.
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