Expert nutritionists and dietitians would always advocate getting most of the nutrients from natural foods, but there are conditions in which supplementation would become necessary. For example, some herbs are not part of the natural diet, but are proven to be beneficial in some conditions and have become acceptable treatment regimens across the world. Let’s explore 3 such supplements, their benefits and much more:
Copper is one of those micro minerals that are needed by the body for various functions. Copper ions are also part of the many proteins in the body! Copper is essential to form collagen, a fundamental protein in bones, skin and connective tissue. It also helps the body to use stored iron and enhances immunity and fertility. Copper is involved in producing the dark pigment in hair and eyes, and premature greying could be due to a deficiency of copper. This mineral is also known to prevent high blood pressure and heart rhythm disorders. It also regulates cholesterol levels, and many experts believe it protects tissues from damage by free radicals, thereby reducing risks of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. A deficiency of copper can cause fatigue, brittle and discolored hair, high blood pressure and bone defects. Up to 3 mg a day from food and supplements is known to be safe.
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Glucosamine is a small molecule that contains glucose, and is naturally synthesized by the body in small amounts. It is found in high concentrations in joints and connective tissues where the body uses it to repair and maintain the joint cartilages. Glucosamine is the preferred treatment for arthritis and joint diseases in recent years. It is known to provide significant relief from pain and inflammation that accompany joint diseases such as arthritis and osteoarthritis. It is approved for treatment for arthritis in 70 countries around the world. It can help ease range of motion which is limited in conditions like arthritis. It can also help in repairing ageing related damage to the knees, hips, spine, and hands. Recent studies have shown that it can be more effective in relieving pain and inflammation than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These pain killers only mask the pain but do nothing to prevent progression of the disease or to repair the joint damage, while glucosamine can do both. Glucosamine can also be used to prevent arthritis and other degenerative joint diseases. It can help in healing of injuries such as sprained ankle or finger. Usual dosage is around 500 mg twice or thrice a day for arthritis.
Panax ginseng, also called as Asian, Chinese or Korean ginseng has long been used in Chinese medicine to enhance longevity and quality of life. Panax ginseng is the most widely available and extensively studied form of this herb. Another species, known as American ginseng, is grown mainly in the American Midwest. The medicinal part of this plant is the slow growing root which is harvested after hours to six years when its active ingredient, called ginsenoside is at its peak. The primary health benefit of ginseng is from its immune boosting and antioxidant properties. It is also known to prevent the body against the adverse effects of stress. Ginseng helps combat against a variety of illnesses. It boosts production of specialized immune cells called killer T cells which destroy harmful viruses and bacteria. Studies also have shown that ginseng may inhibit growth of certain cancer cells. A large Korean study found that people who took ginseng had half the risk of developing cancer than those who did not take it.
Ginseng also provides benefits to those feeling tired or stressed, or for those recovering from long illness. The herb balances out the stress hormones and supports the glands that produce stress hormones. It can effectively treat depression, since it increases production of the “feel good” chemicals, called endorphins. A safe dose would be around 100 mg per day.
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As it is with all supplements, excessive use and using of any of the above without prescription or advice from experts in the field of diet and nutrition would be harmful. Stick to the dosage prescribed along with following a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a balanced diet.
Disclaimer: This article is research based and dietary suggestions mentioned in any of the articles may vary from one individual to another depending on health conditions, age, fitness level etc. Hence, Gympik recommends to consult your dietician before following any diet or medication.