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What is a Nutraceutical?

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The term nutraceutical (part pharmaceutical and part nutritional substance) was originally coined by Stephen Defelice, MD and initially defined as a food or part of a food that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. It is important to note that the term has no regulatory definition. In my experience “nutraceutical” is used to distinguish a higher quality supplement from a lesser one. Safety and quality issues surrounding over the counter (OTC) supplements like herb adulteration, and cheap synthetic ingredients make OTC products potentially damaging. High-quality, professional lines that are offered through integrative healthcare practitioners are seemingly better utilized, more easily absorbed and can potentially provide treatment and or prevention of disease. So keep that in mind when you’re trying to figure out if you’re going to buy your next multi-vitamin from Sam’s Club or CVS. Just because it looks the same doesn’t mean it is the same. Take vitamin D for example, the most important information when looking at this product is the source. Where did it come from? The most popular source is soy. We know that most soy fields are currently grown with genetically altered (GMO) seed and are not organic. So if the source is this pesticide ridden GMO soy field so is the vitamin D supplement you just swallowed. Next up vitamin D from lanolin, sheep’s wool, don’t worry no sheep were harmed in this vitamin D production however lanolin based vitamin D may be dependent how the animal was raised, is less easily absorbed and in addition may trigger an allergic response in people who are allergic to wool. My favorite source for vitamin D is organic olive oil, specifically the product from Xymogen. It fits my requirements, organic, plant based, and fat based so that it absorbs easily. Xymogen is a company that exclusively sells to healthcare practitioners and manufactures exceptionally high quality products.

Xymogen utilizes four unique strategies that other companies, even good ones don’t have. The first is their ePedigree program. The ePedigree is an electronic record that traces the transition of ownership of a pharmaceutical product. It begins with the manufacturer and documents the transactional history of the product until it reaches the person or organization administering or dispensing it. They are the first company to apply ePedigree to nutraceuticals. This only enhances patient safety from counterfeiting of dietary supplements. Why would anyone want to sell counterfeit supplements? Money of course, in 2015 Americans spent 21 billion on vitamins and herbal supplements.

My best advice? Use common sense. Look for whole food-based supplements from reputable companies, avoid buying cheap synthetic brands, and purchase from your healthcare professional whenever possible.

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