What Is a Dietary Supplement?
Dietary supplements are substances that are basically used to add nutrient contents to your diet. Besides this, they are also used to lower the risks of health problems, like osteoporosis or arthritis. The basic constituents of dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, herbs or other plants, or enzymes. Dietary supplements are available in different forms (such as in the form of pills, capsules, powders, gummies, tinctures, gel tabs, extracts, or liquids) and are typically marketed as an easy and efficient way to boost your physical or mental health. Sometimes, the ingredients in dietary supplements are added to foods, including drinks.
Why are Dietary Supplements Beneficial?
Supplements vary and may not offer the same nutritional benefits. It is important to note that they are meant to supplement, and not replace a healthy diet. The reason is that supplements generally provide only concentrated amounts of specific nutrients to help meet a particular need. Most healthy individuals can possibly consume all the vitamins and minerals they need through diet alone, without the need for supplements. However, there are certain conditions and medications that may require the use of supplements to meet nutritional needs.
People who suffer nutrient deficiencies or those at increased risk of inadequate nutrient intake, such as pregnant women can benefit from taking supplements as recommended by a medical professional. Some nutrient deficiencies are also more common, for example, vitamin D. Unlike other vitamins, getting vitamin D from the diet alone may be difficult. A number of factors pertaining to the environment and lifestyle are linked to the deficiency of vitamin D. it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from your diet alone. While your body can make vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, it is estimated that one billion people worldwide have low levels of this vitamin. Furthermore, older adults may not be as effective at synthesizing vitamin D due to biological changes in the skin that naturally occur with age. As a result, vitamin D supplements are commonly recommended.
The consumption of vitamin and mineral supplements is not necessarily relevant for healthy adults who already consume adequate amounts of these nutrients through their diet. While it is preferred to get these essential nutrients through your diet, some may struggle to do so. Individuals who may benefit from supplements include:
- women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- exclusively or partially breastfed infants
- people with diagnosed nutritional deficiencies
- people with medical conditions causing nutrient mal absorption
- people with restricted access to foods
- Vegans and vegetarians
Potential concerns with taking supplements
Certain risks are also associated with the consumption of supplements. Depending on the type and level of ingredients, the ingredients in supplements (including vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other botanicals) may lead to unintended negative consequences when combined with some medications, other supplements, foods, and alcohol. While supplements contain ingredients that are found in foods, there are potential safety concerns to consider before taking concentrated amounts of these ingredients in supplement form.
One concern with consuming vitamins and minerals through supplements rather than from foods is the increased risk of consuming an amount that’s too high or could become toxic over time. In addition to the recommended amounts, many vitamins and minerals have a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). This refers to the highest intake amount of the nutrient that’s unlikely to cause negative side effects. The UL for vitamins and minerals varies based on age and gender. Separate UL recommendations also exist for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Factors to consider when choosing supplements and vitamins.
Safety and quality are the most important factors to consider when shopping for vitamins and supplements. However, there are other factors to consider as well. For example, some coatings and added ingredients in supplements may be derived from animal products. In this case, if you are strictly on a vegan diet, you might want to consider products that are certified vegan. Similarly, supplement products may contain gluten or other common allergens, such as soy or dairy. Supplements are a strategic means to ensure that we get the nutrients we need to help promote general body wellness. But how do you know which supplements to take? And how can you tell if your supplement ingredients are of high quality? The following are useful tips to consider when choosing/using supplements:
Consider your goals
Many people do not go through the ingredient list before choosing supplements. Before choosing any supplement, it is highly recommended that you know exactly why you want to take the supplement. It could be due to certain health issues or maybe you suspect that your diet leaves some specific nutrient gaps. You should be particular with your reasons for choosing your supplements.
The way the body processes nutrients is intricate and our nutritional needs change as we age. You should consider certain hormonal changes, as well as lifestyle changes related to ageing, when choosing the kind of supplements you should take.
The types of foods you eat also play a big role in which nutrients you should take as a supplement, and how much you should take. Certain foods and drinks you consume may prohibit or enable the absorption of other vitamins. People who take tea or coffee mostly may need to increase their iron consumption. Additionally, even if you consume a lot of vitamin D, if you are deficient in magnesium your body will not absorb it properly.
Consider the active ingredient contained in each dose
People often consume overdose of drugs, with the intention that it works faster. However, in most cases, we cannot absorb more than the recommended daily value, and for some vitamins and minerals, taking too much can even be harmful. Aim to take supplements in the right quantities (There are some exceptions, however, such as Vitamin D, which is often given healthily in larger quantities).
Weigh the potential side effects
There are some side effects associated with certain supplements – ranging from fatigue to digestive issues to hair loss, and others. While most people don’t actually experience any listed side effects, it can be helpful to weigh the potential effects, and consider whether or not the side effect is worth the benefit to you personally.
Your digestive health and certain medical conditions can determine how efficiently your body absorbs vitamins, and some medications may affect which supplements that are ideal for consumption. Also, for pregnant women and people taking breath control, you may need to take more of certain vitamins and minerals. If you are on medications, have a medical condition, or you are pregnant, you should relate it with your doctor to determine the right supplements for you.
If you drink alcohol, use tobacco or are regularly exposed to toxins or pollutants, your body may not absorb some nutrients efficiently, and you could benefit from taking more of certain antioxidant vitamins. Also, if you are under a lot of stress, it may affect the nutrients you need. People who are usually stressed may require more need for magnesium.
Your family health background can sometimes be an indication of your potential health problems. Learning about your family health history can help inform your daily wellness planning.
On a final note should you feel that you need to enhance your diet by adding vitamins or health supplements to your daily routine please visit our store for a variety of supplements to choose from.