A nutraceutical, a term combining the words ‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceutical’, is a food or food product that is purported to provide health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. Nutraceuticals can range from isolated nutrients and dietary supplements to processed foods such as beverages and cereals.
Most of us are, of course, familiar with daily vitamin and mineral supplements. Some of us may have ventured further into the more exotic aspects of nutraceuticals, purchasing herbal energy boosters-ginseng, for example-or products that promise to improve our body functioning at a cellular level.
Nutraceuticals generally promise some kind of health benefit. It is important to be aware that nutraceutical products do not undergo the same rigorous testing and regulation as pharmaceutical drugs and therefore could be harmful to your health.
Before you invest in nutraceuticals, which can be expensive, get an objective overview of the basic nutrients you need for bone health.
- Our bodies cannot manufacture some of the nutrients that are or may be vital for strong bones, so we must get them from what we eat and drink or from daily supplements.
- Adult females generally need about 46 grams of protein a day, and adult males need 56 grams. Though some elderly people and women may have a deficient intake, Americans typically eat 100 grams of protein a day, which should be balanced with a higher intake of potassium from food sources. Dietary supplements of potassium chloride are available but should not be self-prescribed, because excess can produce elevated blood levels that can interfere with normal heart rhythm.
- The nutrients we need all work together, and we need some of each one every day. A well-rated vitamin and mineral complex, plus essential fatty acids, can help guard against accelerated aging, bone loss, and other degenerative diseases.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that the fields of nutrition and medicine are constantly evolving. New information that is both helpful and accurate will continue to become available from reliable and tested sources. Nutraceuticals may well come to play a large part in protecting our bones, but it’s wise to approach the claims you hear with caution and to talk to your healthcare provider before supplementing your diet with these products.