Supplements versus Nutrients; What is the difference?
Mixing the likes of biotin with inactive ingredients and turning this into a supplement is largely an artificial process which has a number of disadvantages.
The first of these is that the additives as a whole provide a less than optimal food source for the absorption and utilization of the active ingredients.
Our digestive systems are designed to make use of plants and animals products as a natural food source – living organisms where vitamins and minerals are associated with other nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) that all play an active part in the body. Isolating nutrients in an inactive base simply doesn’t make sense.
During digestion of natural foods vitamins and minerals attach to protein complexes in the digestive tract, which enhances their absorption and ensures that they do not end up as isolated entities in the blood stream. Proteins complexes in the blood are not normally excreted by the kidneys, and so the attached vitamins and minerals remain in the body much longer.
With artificial foodstuffs such as supplements, protein complexes cannot be formed from the inactive additives and the attachment of active ingredients such as vitamins and other nutrients thus cannot take place.
Vitamins and minerals are consequently absorbed less efficiently, enter the blood stream as isolated, free-floating nutrients and are rapidly excreted by the kidneys, resulting in strongly coloured so called “expensive” urine.
Results of the exclusive use of inactive ingredients as a whole
A second disadvantage of supplements is that the exclusive use of inactive ingredients results in the scarcity of nutrients as a whole, a condition not found in foods that occur naturally.
The biotin supplement, for example, contains only biotin and inactive additives, whereas a biotin-rich food source such as an egg provides not only the biotin but numerous other nutrients that are essential for the biochemical processes of the body.
Taking a supplement that provides biotin in isolated form can be likened to oiling a single cog in a complex piece of machinery – if the other cogs aren’t oiled as well, the machine will eventually come to a complete standstill.
The presense of foreign chemicals in supplements is also of concern. Foreign particles of any sort mobilize the immune system and thus use up the body’s reserves of nutrients.
A single supplement may trigger only a slight immune response, but if 20 or more supplements are taken each day the total amount of inactive material consumed may exceed 2 grams – half a level teaspoon – and could contain a substantial amount of foreign chemicals. In this case the immune response would be much greater, and the body’s nutrient reserves would be drained more substantially, counteracting the effect of taking supplements in the first place.
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