A tablet, a capsule, a pill or a syrup or a tonic in the liquid form that has vitamins, minerals, plant or herb material as its main ingredients is a nutritional supplement. As the name suggests, a supplement ideally provides the additional nutrients that may be otherwise missing in our regular diet. Nonetheless, dietary supplement can never be substituted for a balanced and healthy diet. The main reason most people take supplements is for preventive measures like cutting the risk of chronic diseases like cancer or preventing arthritis or to boost their vitality and decrease signs of ageing. Some others rely on nutritional supplements for corrective measure like covering up a calcium deficiency. Before buying these supplements for health, please equip yourselves with the below facts on supplements so that you make the right choice of buying only those that are right for you.
Categories that Benefit from Supplements
Children and teenagers who have irregular eating habits usually find it useful to have a multivitamin a day. Women planning their pregnancy need folic acid for their babies in the initial stages and also need more calcium for their bones to support baby weight. Vegans who are unable to get key nutrients from their food are another category of people who can see improved health with the use of supplements. There are also people suffering from eating disorders or typical medical conditions like lactose intolerance or absorption problems who could benefit. Unless you have issues to address, don’t overload your body with supplements.
Nutritional Supplements Benefits
Vitamins and minerals serve a specific purpose of benefiting the body in an exclusive way. For instance, vitamin A is known to support vision and bone growth, while vitamin E fortifies the immune system besides helping repair DNA. A deficiency in certain vitamins can weaken the body’s capability to heal and protect itself. If the body is deficient in Vitamin D, it is incapable of calcium absorption, irrespective of the quantity of calcium consumed. Nutritional supplements come in as a boon in this kind of situations and are helpful in enhancing the overall performance.
Effects of Dietary Supplements
Unlike medicines, dietary supplements are most often self-prescribed. With the lack of right information, even those who seem to be usually well informed can get into potential risks of using supplements. Quite some supplement consumers are unaware that some supplements when taken in combination with certain medications can incur dangerous interactions that could become life-threatening. For instance, calcium supplements can interfere with heart medicine and some diuretics. When buying nutritional supplements, thoroughly do your research and pick the right one to avoid any unwanted health issues. Kava, a common supplement to control insomnia, is capable of causing liver damage in people who suffer a family history of this disease.
Types of Nutritional Supplements
Supplements are categorized depending on their source. Food supplements have ingredients such as fish oils that benefit the heart, minerals such as iron to prevent anemia, and the entire range of vitamins, from A to K. Food supplements offer higher amounts of nutrients as compared to what you get in normal foods. Herbal supplements are prepared usually from herbs and parts of whole plants. Since they are not regulated by the FDA, herbal supplement manufacturers often end up making unsubstantiated health claims. Dietary supplements contain micronutrients that help in smooth functioning of a healthy body.
Identifying Right Supplements
Most supplements are categorised and regulated as medicines. But when a supplement is classified under foods and not medicines, it bypasses the usual regulations that a medicine must undergo for safety and its proven efficiency before being sold in the market. The main ‘active’ ingredient in both cases could be the same but classification may differ. Be careful with the supplement type as their hazards, if any, are yet to be known.
Supermarkets, pharmacies and the internet offer a plethora of nutritional supplements. Taking vitamins alone cannot cover up for unhealthy eating habits. Also, vitamins cannot be a substitute for nutrients that fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains offer. Nevertheless, a general multivitamin or a mineral supplement can act as a good defense against episodic vitamin shortfalls in the diet.