Nutrition forms an integral part of human health. The best form of nutrition comes in the form of food. However the food chain is becoming adulterated with unsavory farming practices, pollution, toxins and nutrient deficient soils which is impacting on the quality of food being grown.

Modern civilization has changed to such a degree that a high percentage of consumed foods are emanating from factories in tins, boxes and packets. The intake of fresh food has taken a back seat in preference to those high in sugar, fats, salt, colorants and preservatives. More and more people are turning to nutritional, vitamin and mineral supplements to counteract their unhealthy lifestyles and usually comprise a combination of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, enzymes, co enzymes, anti oxidants, phytochemicals etc..

The human psyche is interesting in that instead of choosing to eliminate unhealthy eating habits the opposite is true, "I'll eat what ever I want and use supplements to fill in the nutritional gaps". This is not supplementing, but replacing. Marketing companies are aware of this dynamic and their advertising strategies cater to this "guilty conscience" condition. One of the more common strategies used, is to boost the immune system. This simple portrayal has over simplified an extremely complex and co-dependant immune process that no supplement has even been proven to affect directly.

Supplementation works in an indirect manner. Yes nutritionally deficient people find some benefit but it is subject to other factors whether these nutrients will be utilized or not, and there is no guarantee that the immune system is directly affected. Long term use of supplements can also prove to be counter productive.

The fallacy exists that the body will use what it requires and expel what it does not. This is not true. If it were, then there would be no recommended daily dose. Doses of nutrients that your body does not need are not simply expelled, but can create imbalances and deficiencies in other areas. The key is to eat a variety of natural foods which offer small quantities of nutrients on a regular basis rather than large doses of supplements once a day. (For example, natural calcium is absorbed every 2 hours).
All food nutrients are 100% bio available whereas supplements are not.
Not all nutrients in supplements are equal to that found in food.
There are symbiotic elements in food that collectively ensure that there is a complete uptake of all the beneficial nutrients. (Lactose intolerance is due to pasteurization as the beneficial enzyme is killed in this heating process. This does not happen with RAW milk)

Why is the "immune boosting" claim then made? Basically it is the assumption that by correcting imbalances or providing anti-oxidant materials that these nutrients will reduce the burden placed on the immune system allowing it to recover or build itself up. In part this is true but unlike Qina that activates the immune system within 24 hours, nutrients work indirectly and are reliant on other factors before a benefit is realized.

For example let's say you are deficient in a number of vitamins. This could be because you do not consume foods that have a high content of them, but it is more likely that you are deficient in a number of trace elements. Being deficient in a few trace elements drops the absorption of some vitamins from 95% to 4%. Supplementing will not rectify the underlying problem. Each nutrient is co dependant on the ratio of other nutrients. Eat to much salt (Sodium) and your potassium levels will change. Instead of reducing your salt intake, your automatic reaction is to supplement with potassium but that in turn will alter it's contra nutrient. In the long run you are creating imbalances that can become dangerous.

Another area of concern is the general ignorance to the ingredients. We all know that vitamin E is an excellent anti-oxidant, but did you know that Vitamin E (dl-tocopheryl) is a by-product of petroleum and is very cheap, with no health benefit. Whereas natural vitamin E (d-tocopherol) is very expensive with many benefits. The tocopherols found in natural vitamin E are alpha, beta, gamma and delta. The gamma does all the work, but not in isolation, it needs the other three in symbiosis for it to be effective.

Nutrition can be a highly complex subject with many aspects not covered in conventional books or magazines. Nutrition does not boost the immune system, it supports it. Remember long term dosing of nutritional and herbal supplements can lead to liver toxicity. For optimum nutrition, nothing beats a varied diet with a high consumption of vegetables and fruit, simultaneously removing junk and factory made foods.