Navigation Services Home Learning Articles Products News Breeders Contact Navigation Services

Some Basics of Nutritional Supplementation

written by Marina Zacharias

The term nutritional supplementation includes the use of vitamins, minerals, and other food factors to support good health and prevent or treat illness.

There is a mountain of evidence to support the need for supplements in the average diet of both people and pets. To fully grasp the importance of supplementation we need to understand the basic functions of nutrients (like vitamins and minerals) in the body.

The key role they play is to serve as essential components in enzymes and coenzymes. Enzymes are molecules involved in speeding up chemical reactions necessary for bodily function. Coenzymes are molecules that help the enzymes in their chemical reaction.

Enzymes and coenzymes work to either join molecules together or split them apart by making or breaking the chemical bonds that join molecules together. A key concept in nutritional medicine is learning how to supply the necessary support or nutrients that allow enzymes of a particular tissue to work at their optimum levels.

Most enzymes are composed of a protein along with an essential mineral and possibly a vitamin. If an enzyme is lacking the essential mineral or vitamin, it cannot function properly. By providing the necessary mineral through diet or a nutritional formula, the enzyme is then able to perform its vital function. For example, zinc is necessary for the enzyme that activates vitamin A in the visual process. Without zinc in the enzyme, the vitamin A cannot be converted to the active form. This deficiency can result in what is known as night blindness.

Many enzymes require additional support in order to perform their functions. The support is in the form of a coenzyme, a molecule that functions along with the enzyme. Most coenzymes are composed of vitamins and/or minerals. Without the coenzyme, the enzyme is powerless. For example, vitamin C functions as a coenzyme to the enzyme "proline hydroxylase" which is involved in collagen synthesis. Without vitamin C, there is impaired collagen synthesis, resulting in failure of wounds to heal, bleeding gums, and easy bruising. There may be plenty of proline hydroxylase (the enzyme) but in order for it to function it needs vitamin C.

With the modern methods involved in all phases of today's food production, many of these essential nutrients are lost. Attempts are made to replace natures bounty with man made synthetics that unfortunately can cause more harm than good.

In other articles we refer to specific nutritional supplements and their function in promoting good health. Keep in mind that it is the normal enzymatic function that we seek to support to ensure optimum performance.