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CAM, Natural Remedies, Supplements and Bioavailability

A significant percentage of those who advocate the merits of natural remedies will equally rave about the usage of supplements. This is often based on the issue of practicality; not everyone has access to the raw ingredients required or has the skill or time to prepare them properly on a regular basis. Users of supplements take comfort in the knowledge that they will receive the active ingredient(s) in a convenient, safe and regulated product. To quote one supplement manufacturer, “From the moment raw ingredients reach our facilities to the time a finished supplement is packaged, stringent analysis confirms the potency, purity and nutritional content of every high standard nutritional product that bears the Holland & Barrett name. We guarantee it!” 

However, the point that is not usually raised concerning supplement usage is the issue of bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to:

 “The availability or amount (not the potency) of an administered drug which is available to carry out its activity to the target cells.”

CAM, Natural Remedies, Supplements and Bioavailability

With regard to supplements, which are typically taken orally and not given intravenously, bioavailability means the quantity of the supplement dose that ends up absorbed. The importance of this is that in many cases, the natural form of the active ingredient(s) may actually be preferable and more beneficial than the supplement form. Quercetin is cited as an example of this; naturally occurring quercetin (quercetin glucosides) has the same therapeutic effects in the body as the supplement form, quercetin aglycone, but with the benefit of better bioavailability.

The series Understanding Natural Treatment will next consider CAM, Natural Medicine and Treatment – Fact or Fiction?

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