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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Folic Acid Supplementation

It's not so infrequent that you'll hear arguments against vitamin and mineral supplementation. The mantra typically goes something like "you can get everything you need from natural food sources alone".

And, for the most part, I agree with that statement. A balanced diet, low in processed foods and rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and (for non-vegans and non-vegetarians) lean meat can give you exactly what your body needs.

However, as sensible as that mantra may seem, it, nonetheless, flies in the face of one reality: the typical consumer does not enjoy this type of diet and, instead, consumes meals that are high in calories, low in fiber, and largely bereft of nutritional value.

In other words, people tend to eat a lot of cheap, fast food.

The truth is that nutrient supplementation can provide substantial and verifiable benefits. Supplementation, it should be noted, is not synonymous with mega-supplementation, a practice that, for some individuals, may actually be unhealthy and even potentially dangerous (for instance, mega-supplementing with nutrients that have a blood thinning effect when you already use a prescribed anti-coagulant).

And here's a good example of what I mean, recently reported in the news. For more than a decade, white bread products have been enriched with folic acid. The result: statistically significant drops in the incidence of spina bifida and anencephaly among newborns.

This is, of course, a very specific example, as it applies to women of childbearing age. However, it does illustrate the point. For optimal health benefits and to lessen the risk of certain conditions, supplementation can sometimes fill in the gaps left by a modern lifestyle.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is for informational purposes and is not medical advice. Individuals wishing to use supplements or alternative medicine therapies should consult with their doctor beforehand.

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