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Dietary Supplements and Modern Way of Life

Prof. Zvonimir Pavlek, PhD

In the past, people used to receive treatment and were familiar with the food that made them healthy and vital. Ancient Chinese, Greek, Romans and Arabs were acquainted with traditional medicine thousands of years ago. After all, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, lived 2,500 years ago, and his famous saying was “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food”. To eat healthy means to achieve the balance of proteins, vitamins and minerals in your organism, not to let free radicals “running wild” or increasing of "bad” cholesterol, to have optimum digestion, to maintain strength, healthy muscles, bones, internal organs – the heart in the first place, but also to achieve good mood. Nutritionists recommend that for an optimum balance it would be necessary to take five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, which is difficult to achieve in continuity. This caused a boom of dietary supplements facilitating an overall balance of the organism, which bring vitality and the harmony of body and spirit.

Traditional approaches have been known from time immemorial but dietary supplements experienced a boom only recently. It started actually with Presidents Clinton’s signature on the famous Dietary Supplement Health and Education ACT (DSHEA) in 1994, which regulated the area of dietary supplements in the USA. In the definition given in that Act, among others, it is stated that “dietary supplements [are]: a vitamin, a mineral, an herb or other botanical, an amino acid, a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total daily intake …”.

At that time, America experienced a genuine revolution because people started to believe in nature that is helpful for maintaining their health and intellectual abilities, boosts their immunity and provides treatment when needed. Apart from that, an increasing number of clinical trails are conducted on a daily basis so that even the physicians who were highly sceptic until recently have now started recommending the supplements. According to the reports of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as many as 200 million Americans have been using vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts and other supplements in order to achieve positive effects on their health and vitality. In financial terms, in the last 15 years, the annual turnover of that industry grew from insignificant figures to 25 billion dollars in the USA. The example of the USA is useful for an analysis because that society has always been subject to competition and regulations. As in economy, it also holds true for people - efficient and successful are only those who are healthy, vital, fit and, last but not least, good-looking. Accordingly, in America, the supplements are related to lifestyle, to a wish to survive in the contemporary world full of threats through air, climate and harmful substances taken into the organism but also full of stress to which people are increasingly exposed on a daily basis.

As elsewhere in the world, dietary supplements take most space in our pharmacies. People take supplements to prevent heart diseases and blood circulation disorders (vitamin E, omega etc.), to keep slim - because obesity is also a consequence of the modern way of life, to keep their skin smooth because the skin is exposed to oxidants from the inside, to reduce cholesterol (red yeast rice), to foster blood circulation (ginkgo, ginseng) etc. As for medical treatment, the concept that used to put synthetic medicines to the first place has been falling apart because of the increasing number of clinical trials being conducted for dietary supplements.

For instance, Q10 was discovered in 1953 and Dr Mitchell was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery in 1978. Today, a number of studies were conducted for that product which proved beneficial in slowing the effects of aging and in restoring energy. In particular, there are many studies that showed how important the product is in maintaining a healthy heart and in treatment of heart diseases. It is interesting that in our region the first who knew about that product were the wives of the seamen who used to bring that "miraculous product" from America to prevent wrinkles and aging, whereas its application is much broader today. Athletes started to use it in unreasonably higher doses in order to recuperate after physical strain but the research studies showed that no side effects were observed.

Something similar holds true for red yeast rice, which reduces fats in blood vessels. Whereas it was proved that statins have harmful effects on the heart, muscular tissue and liver, according to clinical studies the natural lovastatins from red yeast rice have an effect double higher than statins because they are found in natural environment together with other substances that simultaneously reduce the "bad" cholesterol (LDL). Therefore it is not needed to take them in higher doses and in that case no side effect occur. The Chinese have been using red yeast rice for a thousand years. On the other hand, the Ancient Egyptians discovered the beneficial effects of garlic and used to put it in pharaohs' tombs to keep it for the "afterworld"... The effects of lemon balm were known as early as in the ancient times; it was used for relaxation and chasing away of „black thoughts“. As of 1611 it was used in monasteries for preparation of the Carmelite Water. The phenomenon of hop has been discovered only recently and has a very broad spectrum of effects. While researching the health of natives in the French Polynesia, it was discovered that the noni plant contributes to that a great deal.

The use of natural dietary supplements and herbal medicines is on the rise, which is good because the balance comes from nature. Therefore this field of research has been introduced by almost all pharmaceutical and nature-based institutions and it is being increasingly respected by modern medicine.

In other words, prevention has become particularly important for the contemporary life and dietary supplements play a big role in it. These are the things that are not only functionally related to certain effects. People try to keep their vitality, strength, health and good looks, which has become a phenomenon called lifestyle. It is the lifestyle that keeps people healthy and fit to cope with the challenges, dynamics and changes in the world around us.


From the media

The Effect of Rizolip on Increased Lipids in Blood
It has been scientifically confirmed that red yeast rice reduces cholesterol and triglycerides in blood and has been an efficient dietary supplement in the traditional Chinese medicine for more than 1,100 years.
Written by: Semira Harčević Vasilik, MD, Spec. of Family Medicine
Proper nourishment, along with regular physical activity and avoiding harmful habits, is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. We know that food is, in a manner of speaking, our fuel: it ensures our survival, enables us to move, enables the functioning of the organs and provides energy for the organism as a whole. Everything we consume, after it is absorbed, ends up as energy inside the cell.
Slađana Divković dr.med., Acu Medic Centar Zagreb
Coenzyme Q10 – the Modern Panacea*
In 1957, Dr Frederick Crane from the University of Wisconsin discovered the miraculous coenzyme from the mitochondrion of the beef heart and sent its discovery to the pharmaceutical company Merck, where it was isolated and named Q10 due to its chemical composition (quinone and 10 isoprene).
Written by: Dubravka Tarle, MD, Spec. of Clinical Pharmacology; Prof. Zvonimir Pavlek, PhD
Dietary Supplements and Modern Way of Life
Nutritionists recommend that for an optimum balance it would be necessary to take five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, which is difficult to achieve in continuity. This caused a boom of dietary supplements facilitating an overall balance of the organism, which bring vitality and the harmony of body and spirit.
Prof. Zvonimir Pavlek, PhD