Where did the concept of taking supplements originate from?

Hi.  As one of the On-line Nutritionists here at Xtend-Life I’m fascinated by how we can support the improvement of how we feel through simply increasing the quality of what we put into our bodies.  Of course this isn’t a new thing, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said:

'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food'

Have you ever wondered where the idea of taking supplements even came from? We only need to refer back to history to see that the importance of supplementing our diet for additional health benefits has been around for centuries. It started over 5000 years ago with the Sumerians, whose written records of herbal remedies were inscribed on clay tablets; on through the great ancient civilizations of Egypt and China to what we now know today.  It’s amazing how some of these herbs, that were so vital back then, are still just as vital now to help our bodies function and feel at their best despite modern technology and the advancement of science. Nature does provide us with much of the best sources for nutrition – although much of it is spread across the globe in faraway places!

In the first century AD there was a compendium called Materia Medica, written by Dioscorides, containing the description of more than 500 plants.  This remains one of the most important literary works regarding medicinal herbs.  This is where supplementation started.  Rather than having you trek to Ancient Greece, South America, Asia and deep sea fishing in the pristine Southern Oceans; and learning where and what works in each of the other continents around the world, people used their intelligence and started bringing the known properties together. 

The first scientist to determine that a lack, or removal of, vitamins resulted in disease was William Fletch in 1905.  He noticed that eating unpolished rice prevented Beriberi while polished rice did not. This was the start of extensive study throughout the early 1900s resulting in the ability to isolate and identify vitamins. Originally labelled ‘vitamine’ which is the shortened form of ‘vital to life’ and ‘amine’, the ‘e’ was later dropped as other non-amine essential compounds were discovered.

Question - what is the vitamin in rice husk?  

Answer – Thiamine also known as Vitamin B1.

In my own training, I’ve come across many approaches to support the body, to give us the energy and performance needed to really enjoy life.  As you can see above the concept of supplementation has been with us for thousands of years and the value of supplementing and eating certain foods to maintain health was recognized long before vitamins were identified.   

Here at Xtend-Life we believe in using science to get the best out of nature.  We know it’s NOT about a few vitamins and minerals.  What the concept of supplementation IS about is a complete nutrient support of high quality ingredients that work together to support you.  Your body wants to give a great performance and provide you with high levels of energy every day.  Are you giving it everything it needs?

All the best

Madelynn Loo

2 Responses

I like the way Xtendlife educates visitors to their site. As much as they are promoting their products, which I would buy if they were available in our country, they have great articles that makes the visitor learn a lot about personal health promotion. In fact they over-deliver on that aspect.

Murigi November 02 2013

People have gone on for centuries without the use of modern medicine.  Natural remedies were the only things available.  People’s diets were also simple, no preservatives, no genetic modified foods, animals raised on what they were intended to eat.  People rely too much on Western medicine for their illness, stack too much on their daily lives and don’t take the time to eat right.  Its easier to stop at a fast food place, with who know what’s in some of that food. 

Cosetta Lewis November 04 2013

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