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Supplementation has recently been quite a controversial topic.  Opinions about its application are divided. There are people who – from their own experience or under the influence of medicine, dietetics and fitness specialists – are convinced of the necessity and effectiveness of daily supplementation. However, there are also those who are very sceptical about the use of various preparations, even natural ones, and they will not use supplements, which they consider unnecessary and sometimes dangerous to health. Such an opinion very often results from the incorrect intake and use of products of unknown origin. In an ideal world, using a healthy, balanced, individually tailored diet should provide all the substances necessary for the body's functioning. Nonetheless, even with a perfectly composed diet, such an assumption may seem somewhat unrealistic.  Why? There are many factors involved, but some of them are essential. Let’s have a closer look at them.

Understood as dietary habits, not focused on a specific health problem or weight loss. Each of us has a diet. After all, we all eat several meals a day and we have individual preferences regarding the choice of products. More or less healthy, and thus providing different amounts of nutrients. For example, something as innocuous as giving up meat can lead to deficiencies (heme iron, vit. B12), and vegetarians or vegans, who consume large amounts of cereals and legumes every day, which contain phytic acid that blocks the absorption of certain amino acids or lectins that harm our intestines, are exposed to reduced absorption of nutrients.

Due to continuous growth, young organisms have an increased demand for vitamins, minerals and amino acids. In contrast, the elderly lose the ability to absorb many nutrients. Moreover, such people, as their immunity is lower and cell metabolism gets slower, are often burdened with various diseases, accumulate toxins faster and get rid of them with more difficulty.

Stress is a key player here. A silent killer that takes away our energy, accelerates cell ageing and causes a cascade of adverse reactions in the body. Naturally, it can also act as a motivator, which is beneficial. However, this is the only positive aspect of such a state. We usually feel its negative effects, including gut microbiota disorders or gastric mucosa damages, and these two organs are vital when it comes to absorption. Furthermore, there is often a lack of sleep and low physical activity – the body stops working properly because it is in an unnatural situation..

Vitamins are produced by plants, whereas minerals are not... they need to be taken from soil and water. Today's farming practices deprive soil of many valuable substances. Firstly, fertilizers come from an unnatural source. Secondly, they only enrich it with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, i.e. 3 key ingredients needed for plant growth, and what about the rest? It is often contaminated with lead, heavy metals and radioactive compounds, which cause oxidative stress; hence the increased need for antioxidants.

Meat is currently very low in nutrients and it cannot be compared to that from 30, 40 years ago. As far as the mass-produced meat is concerned, because a cow grazed on the Alpine grass will be quite different. The cow is biologically adapted to nibbling the grass, while the breeding cow lives on fodder, cereals and... gets sick a lot. And if you get sick, antibiotics become your only solution. Similarly, commonly used hormones make the meat dangerous to humans, and its long-term consumption can cause more harm than good. Let us make no mistake, we will not absorb large amounts of zinc or B vitamins from such meat either – their quantity will also be reduced. The animal becomes just as malnourished as human.

For proper daily functioning we will need:

• Macronutrients: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, dietary fibre

• 8 exogenous amino acids, e.g. tryptophan, methionine, isoleucine

• Essential fatty acids

• Water-soluble vitamins (vitamin B, vitamin C) and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)

• Microelements (e.g. iodine, iron, copper, zinc, selenium)

• Macronutrients (e.g. magnesium, calcium, potassium)

• Water

So what should we do – take or avoid?

"A dietary supplement is a foodstuff that supplements a proper diet. It is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals or other substances that have a nutritional or other physiological effect, either single or complex..."
Act on safety of food and nutrition of August 25th 2006 and the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate

The basic approach is to try to get the greatest amount of nutrients from food as well as select individually tailored supplementation. Remember that each of us is different. We have different lifestyles, types of work, daily activities – so our requirements are different too. Before choosing any preparation, it is highly recommended that you research the content of individual components in the body and seek specialist advice, which will allow you to target supplementation properly and not merely enhance your body’s endurance, but also correct nutritional errors, slow down the ageing process of the body and prevent the development of various health problems.

Nevertheless, a comprehensive vitamin-mineral product or vitamin C will always be a good choice for everyone. It should be noted that vitamins and minerals are not medicine, which ought to be taken only during an illness. If we want to be healthy and enjoy long life, we should take vitamins and minerals on an everyday basis. As Dr. Walles says: "Good supplements, vitamins and minerals are the best and cheapest insurance."

Let's not forget about vitamin T, i.e. training. The key to longevity is a healthy diet, supplementation and daily physical activity. In addition to improving the efficiency and improvement of the work of virtually every organism, they boost the absorption of all nutrients by sensitizing cell activity and accelerating cell metabolism, owing to which all processes take place in us more productively and the risk of disease is decreased.

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