Special Nutrients in Dietary Supplements: Going Beyond Vitamins and Minerals
As the pandemic persists, people have become more and more acquainted with the variety of vitamins and minerals available in the market offering various health claims. But did you know that some dietary supplements can give you beyond your usual vitamins ABC’s and minerals? Your choice of a nutritional supplement therefore is crucial in making sure you’re getting the most out of your peso.
Here’s an important tip: read product labels. Not all supplements are formulated the same. Aside from the price, check how many and how much of the active ingredients do your supplements offer. Apart from your usual vitamins and minerals, here are some important nutrients to look for in your supplements and the benefits each of them offers:
LECITHIN: A nerve-building nutrient
Also known as phosphatidylcholine, lecithin is a large class of fat-like substance that is essential for creating and maintaining the covering of the cells. Lecithin is important in the normal functioning of a wide range of essential body systems, including the digestive, reproductive, and circulatory systems. Lecithin can improve cardiovascular health by lowering levels of blood cholesterol and raising HDLs levels (high density lipoproteins, aka “good cholesterol”).
Among its many functions, lecithin has been specially touted for its benefits to the nervous system, giving it the moniker “nerve-building nutrient.” Clinicians find lecithin useful in helping improve memory and in sustaining endurance in strenuous physical and mental activities.
LYCOPENE and RUTIN: Not your usual antioxidants
Lycopene, a carotenoid or “colorful nutrient,” is an antioxidant abundantly found in tomatoes and tomato-based products. Lycopene is regarded as the most abundant carotenoid in the human blood. Lycopene has been demonstrated to have a strong association to a reduced risk for certain cancers, mainly of the prostate, stomach, and lungs. Lycopene has also been found to be efficient in ameliorating diabetes mellitus, heart complications, skin, bone, liver and reproductive diseases and disorders.
Rutin, also known as Vitamin P or Rutoside, is a naturally-sourced flavonoid. Rutin has demonstrated several beneficial activities, including antioxidant and anticancer properties. Among the flavonoids, rutin has been shown to have one of the strongest scavenging activity or the ability to combat deleterious substances that may damage the body cells. Rutin also acts synergistically with Vitamin C to help maintain a healthy immune system.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: The fat your heart loves
Omega-3 fats, which include ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), belong to the family of unsaturated fats that are not produced by the body, and are obtained from food sources such as fish and vegetable oils.
Omega-3 fats have been shown to lower the risk for heart diseases and strokes. It was also reported to help in lowering blood pressure and improve blood vessel function. At higher doses, omega-3 fatty acids are reported to lower triglycerides and may ease inflammation, thus preventing thickening of the arterial wall.
LUTEIN and ZEAXANTHIN: Looking after your eye health
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two chemically similar carotenoids with proven health benefits. They are specifically concentrated in the macula, the area in the eye responsible for color recognition. Because lutein and zeaxanthin have antioxidant properties, they protect the eyes from deleterious substances that may cause damage.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin constitute the main pigments found in the yellow spot of the human retina which protects the macula from damage by blue light, improves visual acuity, and scavenge free radicals that destroy the cells. Intake of lutein and zeaxanthin have also been linked to a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts by increasing macular pigment density, thus preventing vision impairment and blindness.
It is important to be familiar with the various nutrients available in different supplements and their health benefits. Reading product labels and knowing the right ingredient to look for helps us become informed and smart consumers. Also, consulting your doctor regarding supplementation may give you leads and to give you proper guidance in choosing the best supplement suited for your needs.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.
Imran M, Ghorat F, Ul-Haq I, et al. Lycopene as a Natural Antioxidant Used to Prevent Human Health Disorders. Antioxidants (Basel).
Küllenberg D, Taylor LA, Schneider M, Massing U. Health effects of dietary phospholipids. Lipids Health Dis.
Abdel-Aal el-SM, Akhtar H, Zaheer K, Ali R. Dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids and their role in eye health. Nutrients