A dietary supplement is a product that is meant to provide the body with nutrients that may not be consumed in sufficient amounts. It is intended for ingestion and contains dietary ingredients, which add further nutritional value to your body. Most people are taking one or more dietary supplements so that they can get enough essential nutrients in their body and also improve their health. However, it is possible not to take the supplements and get all the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods.
Best dietary supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as foods but not drugs, so it doesn’t control and monitor their safety in the same way that it does with medication. These products carry a Supplements Facts panel that lists all the contents, active ingredients and the amount of active ingredients per serving. Dietary supplements can be bought over the counter, and they come in the form of powder, drinks, energy bars, soft gels, capsules or tablets. The common dietary supplement ingredients include amino acids, fiber, fatty acids or botanicals, which include minerals, vitamins, and herbal products.
There are three types of dietary supplements:
- Natural supplements, which are extracted from animal tissue, plants or inorganic materials such as rocks and seawater.
- Semi- synthetic supplements, which are extracted from natural sources and then changed through chemical processes.
- Synthetic supplements, which are produced entirely artificially.
Dietary supplements are mostly advocated because:
- Most people are not eating regular meals or are eating unhealthy meals, which result to an inadequate amount of required nutrients by the end of the day.
- People overcook their foods, which lead to loss of nutritional value of the foods hence you consume few vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. Overcooked foods result in health problems.
- Most of the foods that we eat have insufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals because they have been grown over and over again in the same soil, which has been depleted over time. This is why most people are now opting for organic farming because the foods are better and a healthier choice.
- Use of chemicals is now preserving foods before being transported to further areas so that they don’t get spoilt. This preservation causes depletion, especially of Vitamin C and B complexes.
- In our daily lives, different activities cause the body and mind to be stressed, and this leads to a compromised immunity. A weak immune system leads to diseases as the body is unable to fight off infections adequately.
- As you grow older, the body produces fewer enzymes, which are needed for assimilation and digestion of food and these results to stomach problems such as heartburn, upsets, and constipation.
- Some pharmaceutical drugs deplete the essential nutrients that the body needs hence making people vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies.
Studies have shown that dietary supplements have health benefits and they have fewer side effects hence making them safe to use. Most supplements will help maintain well-being and help you reduce the risk of getting diseases but not treat or prevent any diseases. The health benefits of taking dietary supplements include:
- Provide nutrients to the body
At times you may not be getting the daily required nutrients because your diet lacks it or you have a medical condition that is causing deficiency or insufficiency. Taking dietary supplements helps provide you with the nutrients that you need hence keeping you healthy and supports healthy organ functions in the body.
- Enhances metabolism
The food we eat is usually broken down into simple nutrients, which are then absorbed in the body, and this partly relies on the vitamin B class. If you don’t have sufficient vitamin B in the body, then your metabolism will be slow so supplementing your diet with vitamin B enhances metabolism and prevents vitamin deficiencies such as anemia, joint pain, skin disorders and nerve damage.
- Prevents diseases
Some supplements such as vitamin A, C, and E contain antioxidants, which help prevent cancer and this is by neutralizing the free radicals in the body that cause oxidative damage to the cells. Vitamins and minerals help protect the body from various diseases. Women are advised to take folic acid supplements when they are pregnant so as to prevent congenital disabilities such as spina bifida in their babies.
- Promotes tissue maintenance and repair
Dietary supplements help in maintenance and repair of the tissues in your body by continually producing proteins those makeup healthy tissues. Any deficiency in the tissue maintenance and repair leads to disease such as osteoporosis so taking calcium, magnesium and vitamin D will promote healthy tissue growth and strengthens bones.
- Improves performance
Supplements do contribute to improved muscle endurance, strength and overall physical performance. Most athletes take these supplements to improve their performance because as they exercise their bodies do need more nutrients.
- Maintain hormonal balance
Fluctuation of hormones in the body occurs due to a number of reasons, and this causes one to be weak and get sick. The body needs nutrients for the synthesizing of hormones from simple molecules and the hormones too need nutrients to remain strong and flexible. Taking supplements ensures that there is adequate support for the hormones and avoid any fluctuations.
It is important to see a doctor before taking any dietary supplements because some supplements do have side effects in the body especially if taken with other medication or if you have certain health conditions. Just because the dietary supplements are not monitored, make sure that you buy them from a reputable dealer.
Depending on dietary supplements can be very costly in the long term because they are not cheap. It is advisable to ensure that you do get all the nutrients from the foods you eat by eating healthy balanced meals such as fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meat at all times.