Nutrition is the subject of a great deal of the research being done in the field of medicine and health these days. As more doctors and scientists are becoming aware of the role that nutrition plays in the functioning of the immune system and our other bodily functions, they are increasingly turning their research on traditional home remedies and the effects of supplementing the diet with herbs and vitamins that have a long anecdotal history of successfully treating a wide variety of ills. Perhaps surprisingly, the results of many of these studies support the effectiveness of many traditional home
remedies in treating and/or preventing medical conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, blindness and the common cold.
As an example, niacin (vitamin B3) is a well-established treatment for high cholesterol. According to the Mayo Clinic’s reports on nutritional supplements, its effectiveness in lowering cholesterol has been confirmed by numerous studies that have judged it as having more beneficial effects on HDL (good cholesterol) and being better at lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) than prescription drugs like Lipitor. Because of its beneficial effects on cholesterol, niacin supplements are also often prescribed to help prevent second heart attacks and reduce atherosclerosis.
Much of the recent research has focused on establishing appropriate dosages and daily optimal requirements for various supplements like fish oil (omega 3 EFA), Echinacea (an immune system stimulant), and vitamin B (for treatment of depression and schizophrenia). It’s not uncommon to read in the results of well-designed studies that ‘the results are promising, but more research is needed to establish most effective dosages.’ More and more of the diseases that are seen as ‘modern illnesses’ seem to have their root in nutritional deficiencies. As more research is completed, we can expect to find that many of the illnesses that have baffled science for years are actually caused by deficiencies in our diet, and can be prevented by supplementing our diets with the nutrients that we lack.
Diagnosing and treating health conditions is not a job for the layman. If you believe that you have a serious health condition like diabetes, heart disease or hypertension, your first step should be to consult your doctor. If your doctor determines that you have a health condition that can benefit from the use of nutritional supplements, discuss dosages and alternatives with him.
If you are under a doctor’s care for any health condition, it’s important to discuss any dietary supplements that you take with your health care provider. There may be interactions with medications that he’s prescribed, or a better choice of supplement for your particular condition.
Among those that the FDA suggests can benefit from using nutritional supplements are those with health conditions that either deplete the body of needed nutrients or are the result of a deficiency of one or more essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids or other nutrient.