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There is a simple way I like to categorize dietary supplements to my clients, the 3 E’s; essentials, edibles and everything else. When I mention dietary supplements I’m discussing herbs taken by mouth and not necessary including topical agents or essential oils. Essentials include those nutrients or micro-nutrients that are necessary to body functions, without these disease and problems will likely occur. Essentials include vitamins , minerals , omega fatty acids and enzymes .Optimally these can and should be obtained from a well balanced nutritional diet or they are naturally produced or present in the body. Due to inadequate food access, imbalanced diet and imperfect health we may have deficiencies in the essentials and they can be therefore obtained from dietary supplements.
Some natural foods and spices are not essential but they do have therapeutic effects in addition to providing nutrition or flavoring. I like to refer to these as edibles. For example, ginger , a common spice is frequently used for nausea. These are well tolerated as long as not overused. They are often isolated in teas, to use for symptomatic relief.
Finally, there is everything else, herbs and botanicals that are not necessary for the body nor traditionally included in diet but may have therapeutic or medicinal properties. This includes everything from eucalyptus ( think Vick’s vapor rub) to Echinacea to Medical cannabis. Most of these should be used short-term. They can be frequently associated with drug interactions or adverse effects especially if used excessively or for prolonged time. It is important to remember from an evolutionary standpoint that if a herb or botanical is intended for regular or long term use, it would be included in main food items.
So on your next power trip to GNC or Vitamin Shoppe , remember the 3E’s
Health Empowerment for African Americans and Latinos