OTC vs. Practitioner Supplements: What’s the Difference?

OTC vs. Practitioner Supplements: What’s the Difference?

Many people take supplements regularly to make up for gaps in their diet and to boost their health. Yet, few people know that in addition to the vitamins you see on grocery store shelves, there are also prescription-grade supplements available. Discover the key differences between these two options below.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Supplements   

Some people are surprised to find out that OTC supplements aren’t regulated by the government. Oftentimes, these products contain fillers, synthetic forms of vitamins, and reduced concentrations of the main ingredients. Thus, you may have to take several pills a day to meet the recommended dose, which will also lead to taking in higher volumes of additives. And in some cases, even the recommended dose will fail to deliver the intended results, since the vitamins don’t come in their most effective form.

Common fillers found in OTC supplements include dyes, cork, and other unnatural ingredients. In the case of herbs, sometimes the wrong portion of the plant is used. For instance, if the potency lies within the leaves, the manufacturer may include fillers like stems or fruit. Using the incorrect part of the plant – or worse, the wrong species – means that the herbal supplement will likely be ineffective.

Sometimes, OTC vitamins are also provided in the wrong type. Nutrients have different forms, which also have unique absorption rates. For instance, Ferro-C iron supplements comprise ferrous fumarate, which isn’t absorbed well by the digestive system and can even lead to gastrointestinal complications. An amino acid chelate of iron, however, would be better absorbed.

Also, some nutrients perform poorly when prepared in a capsule form, due to oxidation. Thus, you could be taking a daily vitamin that will have virtually no therapeutic effect.

Practitioner Supplements

Practitioner-strength supplements, also sometimes referred to as medical-grade or pharmaceutical supplements are made by following the same standards as prescription drugs. They boast superior quality to OTC vitamins and are prescribed in the same way medications would be.

These supplements must meet rigorous standards. For instance, their ingredients list must precisely match those within the actual product. They do not contain harmful toxins and must be absorbed by the body within 45 minutes to be considered medical-grade. Contrast this with OTC vitamins, which often have poor bioavailability.

Whether you’re deficient in a key nutrient or are seeking a supplement to help you manage a preexisting condition or overall health, practitioner supplements are the clear winner in terms of quality and effectiveness.

Stemedix offers 10% off your first order of practitioner-grade supplements available through Metagenics. Visit https://stemedix.metagenics.com/ and discover powerful supplements for your daily regimen. It is important to check with a provider to ensure you are taking the correct supplement and correct dose. Please call 800-531-0831 to find out more today!

5 Powerful Benefits of Healthy Sleep

5 Powerful Benefits of Healthy Sleep

The benefits of sufficient, quality sleep are often touted in the medical community. Yet, in our fast-paced world, it often feels as if getting enough shut-eye each evening is more of a luxury than a necessity. Being that several key bodily processes take place during sleep, including restoration and strengthening, slumber should be considered as important as drinking water and taking in nutrients.

While experts are still investigating the science of sleep, what we do know is that sleep allows the body to:

  • Replenish energy
  • Repair muscles
  • Maintain important bodily functions
  • Let the brain process new information

Of course, we’re also well aware of what can happen when we’re sleep-deprived. For instance, we lose the ability to focus, react, and control our emotions. This can affect our relationships and even our work lives. Over time, the effects compound: long-term lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of serious health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. It’s also suspected to impair immune system functioning, making you more susceptible to infections.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The recommended sleep windows vary with age. For instance, while teens generally need eight to ten hours, adults may only need seven to nine. Seniors may benefit from even fewer hours, and might only need to clock seven to eight hours each night.

What Are the Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep?

As soon as you begin getting enough sleep, you may notice immediate benefits such as improved concentration and reduced fatigue. Over time, you could experience long-term benefits, such as:

  • Reduced caloric intake: Lack of sleep can interfere with the chemicals that control hunger. Thus, when you’re not well-rested, you may find yourself overeating.
  • Controlled inflammation: Sleep loss could cause widespread inflammation, potentially damaging the tissues and cells.
  • Improved cognitive function: Better sleep results in increased productivity, better memory, and improved concentration compared to people who are sleep deprived.
  • Decreased risk of heart disease: Healthier sleep habits reduce the risk for cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.
  • Reduced risk of depression: Mental illnesses such as depression often go hand-in-hand with poor sleep. 90% of people with diagnosed depression experience sleep troubles. Getting enough sleep, however, can support mental wellness.

Of course, many people have great intentions when it comes to getting enough sleep, but still, struggle to fall or stay asleep. Here are some ways you can improve your sleep health:

  • Avoid any screen time at least an hour before bed, as these lights can cause brain stimulation.
  • Skip stimulants such as caffeine too late in the day. Try not to have tea, coffee, caffeinated sodas, or chocolate later than mid-afternoon.
  • Maintain the same bedtime every day. While it can be tempting to stay up late and hit snooze on the weekend, establishing a consistent routine will help your body regulate sleep patterns.

Keep in mind that like exercise and a healthy diet, it may take some time to adopt healthy sleep practices. Over time, however, putting in the effort can pay off in the form of better overall health.

For more helpful health awareness articles, please visit stemedix.com/blog and search “health awareness”.

Tips for Managing Nutrition with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Tips for Managing Nutrition with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the umbrella term for inflammation of the digestive tract, which encompasses two conditions: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In ulcerative colitis, the large intestine is affected, while Crohn’s disease can affect any area of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease may also cause abnormal openings, known as fistulas, which are not seen in ulcerative colitis. Both conditions may lead to diarrhea and the need for surgery.

One major aspect of living with IBD is making dietary choices that reduce the risk of a flare-up. While no particular diet has been able to prevent or cure IBD, certain dietary approaches may help control symptoms. Each patient experiences symptoms differently and should work with their healthcare provider to make informed choices, but here are some basic recommendations to consider.

Identify Problem Foods

Sometimes, patients are advised to avoid entire food groups. Yet, since everyone experiences symptoms differently, there’s no need to steer clear of foods unless you know they’ve caused trouble in the past. An effective way to identify trigger foods is to keep a food journal. Eating a variety of foods is important to giving your body an ample supply of nutrients, but if a certain food can be linked to worsening symptoms, it’s likely best to avoid it and find the same nutrients elsewhere.

Try Small, Frequent Meals

Smaller, more frequent meals are often easier to digest, and may therefore be less likely to cause diarrhea. Using this approach is especially beneficial during flare-ups. 

Consider a Low-Residue Diet After Flare-Ups

If you’ve recently had a flare-up, a low-residue diet may be easier for your digestive tract to tolerate. Residue refers to food that hasn’t been digested. The objective of a low-residue diet is to reduce the number of daily bowel movements, which will in turn alleviate diarrhea and stomach cramps. This diet minimizes high-fiber foods and instead focuses on refined carbohydrates, cooked potatoes without skin, and ripe bananas.

Get Your Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce oxidative stress and have an anti-inflammatory effect, which may help to control symptoms. If you tolerate them well, try to regularly incorporate sources of these foods into your diet, which include mackerel and salmon.

Ease In After a Flare

After a flare-up, it’s a good idea to start with liquids that are gentle on your digestive system, then reintroduce solids slowly. Diluted juices, applesauce, and oatmeal are good starting points. You may then gradually start having chicken or turkey, eggs, pasta or rice, and bread.

Consider Supplements

During and immediately after flares, your body may only be taking in limited nutrients. If your doctor approves of it, consider taking a supplement to prevent any deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals.

For more helpful health awareness articles, please visit stemedix.com/blog and search for “health awareness”.

A Complete Guide to Oxidative Stress

A Complete Guide to Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress occurs in the body when there’s an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that have an uneven number of electrons, which enables them to react more easily with other molecules. As a result, they can trigger chain reactions in a process known as oxidation.

Antioxidants, on the other hand, can donate an extra electron molecule to free radicals without risking instability. Thereafter, the free radical will become stable, and thus less prone to start a reaction.

How Does Oxidative Stress Affect the Body?

Oxidation isn’t necessarily bad. In fact, it’s a necessary process. Yet, when the ratio of free radicals to antioxidants becomes imbalanced, oxidative stress occurs. When they’re functioning effectively and kept under control by antioxidants, free radicals play an important role in fighting off pathogens.

Yet, when there are too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants, free radicals can start damaging DNA, proteins, and fatty tissue. Over time, this damage can result in:

  • High blood pressure
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Atherosclerosis (the hardening of blood vessels)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Neurodegenerative illnesses
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Accelerate the aging process

What Leads to Oxidative Stress?

It’s impossible to avoid exposure to free radicals completely. The body even produces them naturally, when inflammation occurs after exercise, for instance. Yet, you can also be exposed to unhealthy free radicals from:

  • Certain chemicals, including some cleaners and pesticides
  • Pollution
  • Radiation
  • Cigarette smoke
  • An unhealthy diet with too much sugar, fat, and alcohol

How Can You Control Oxidative Stress?

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to control your exposure to free radicals. Aim to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, as this will help give your body the nutrients it needs to create antioxidants. Fish, nuts, onion, garlic, and cinnamon may also be good choices to incorporate into your diet.

Maintaining a moderate exercise routine over a long-term basis can also help control oxidative stress levels, as can using chemicals in moderation, wearing sunscreen, limiting alcohol content, and avoiding smoking.

For more helpful health awareness articles, visit stemedix.com/blog.

The Link Between Cold Sensitivities & Multiple Sclerosis

The Link Between Cold Sensitivities & Multiple Sclerosis

While heat sensitivity in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) has been widely studied, the question of how cold weather affects patients still looms large. It was back in 1890 when optical issues (a common issue associated with MS) were linked to a rise in body temperature. More than a century later, MS patients still struggle to stay cool in the summer. As cooler weather approaches, however, the impending chill presents its own set of challenges.

Of course, winter introduces health issues even in people who aren’t affected by MS. Shorter days and increased darkness impact sleep patterns, which can ultimately lead to fatigue. Seasonal depression is also a common issue that emerges once the winter months descend.

Unfortunately, it appears that cold weather exacerbates MS symptoms. Specifically, pain, mobility challenges, fatigue, and depression seem to worsen. For one, the nerve damage caused by MS may be impacted by the winter weather, leading to spasticity and stiffness. Icy surfaces can also increase the risk of falls, making mobility challenges even more of a concern.

The “MS hug,” a feeling of pressure around the torso, becomes more pronounced for many patients in colder temperatures. Numbness and tingling may also worsen. Patients who experience Reynaud’s phenomenon, in which the blood vessels in the extremities narrow and cause discomfort, also report increased intensity in the winter.

Although there is still limited research on how cold weather impacts MS and why patients can still take certain measures to control symptoms throughout the winter months. Dressing in plenty of warm layers, eating warm foods, minimizing trips outdoors, and maintaining a moderate indoor temperature to reduce the shock when you do have to trek outside may help.

You might also consider discussing a supplement regimen with your specialist. Vitamin D levels often drop with decreased exposure to sunlight, so taking a daily vitamin could help to boost overall health and provide some relief for cold-related MS symptoms. Call a Stemedix Care Coordinator at 800-531-0831 and learn how our practitioner-grade supplements through Metagenics may help you and receive 10% off your first order!

7 Superfoods to Incorporate into Your Diet

7 Superfoods to Incorporate into Your Diet

“Superfoods” get their name from the powerful abundance of nutrients they pack, positioning them as some of the healthiest dietary choices one can make. Rich in the key vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients your body needs to perform its best, these foods offer outstanding nutritional value, allowing you to truly make your calories count. Here are a few to incorporate into your diet.

Carrots

Carotenoids, compounds linked to reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions, are found in many yellow, orange, and red vegetables. Yet, carrots have the lowest caloric density of all. Plus, they’re a cinch to prepare, whether you enjoy them in soups, salads, or just on their own as a snack.

Spinach

This leafy green powerhouse boasts high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and folate, nutrients which can reduce the risks of osteoporosis, stroke, and heart disease. The green is also an excellent source of lutein, which helps protect the eyes against macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

Tomatoes

Red tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer and coronary artery disease. While fresh tomatoes are a good source of the nutrient, even processed tomatoes are high in lycopene, and the body may absorb it better. Consider incorporating ketchup, red sauce, and tomato juice into your meals.

Blueberries

Highly snackable, blueberries have the highest concentration of antioxidants of all North American fruit. They can help reduce cancer and diabetes risk, while fending off cognitive decline. Research even suggests they could boost cardiovascular health.

Oats

Oats are loaded with soluble fiber, which promotes feelings of satiety and helps to reduce heart disease risk. While most carbs tend to have a bad reputation, these are far from being nutritionally void like some other carb-heavy foods. The fiber helps to offset the sugar, and there is also a considerable portion of serving in each portion.

Black Beans

In general, beans support heart health. Black beans are the overachievers of the bean world, however. With anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that enhance cognitive function, black beans support both brain and heart health. Plus, they’re a good source of protein while remaining relatively low in calories.

Walnuts

Many nuts have tremendous health benefits, but walnuts are among the best options. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health, and have a fair amount of protein. The polyphenols in the nuts also have anti-inflammatory properties.

For more health awareness articles, please visit stemedix.com/blog and search for “health awareness”.

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