With more people becoming conscious of their health, this common question arises—”What are dietary supplements?” Everyone would want to invest in anything that can promote and boost longevity, good health, and a good quality of life.
Taking dietary supplements is one of the easiest ways to promote your overall health and wellness. If you are exploring the idea and want to discover if it is something you’d like to incorporate daily, read on!
What Is A Dietary Supplement?
What are dietary supplements? According to the US Food and Drug Administration, a dietary supplement is any element you take to promote your wellness. This is inclusive of herbs, minerals, and vitamins.
Today’s dietary supplements often come in capsule or pill form, but they also come in drinks, food, energy bars, gummies, and powder forms. Although the main ingredient of each dietary supplement varies, they all contain a percentage of amino acids, botanicals, enzymes, herbs, and minerals.
What’s The Purpose Of A Dietary Supplement?
The word “supplement” is derived from the Latin word “supplere,” which is directly translated to “to complete” or “to fill up.” The primary purpose of dietary supplements is to augment and meet your nutritional gaps.
Sure, in an ideal scenario, you should be getting all the needed daily nutrients from your food consumption, but because of factors like lifestyle and eating habits, you need to meet these nutrient requirements. This is where these dietary supplements come in.
What are dietary supplements? Your body needs several vitamins and minerals, each with a different Recommended Daily Amount (RDA). It can be challenging and overwhelming to meet the needs.
These supplements can make it easier to reach the RDA. They can help you build a consistent consumption of a broader range of nutrients. Note that these supplements cannot treat any health conditions that you may have.
Do Dietary Supplements Work?
Do supplements work? In terms of bridging the gap and meeting your RDA intake of vitamins and minerals, dietary supplements work and do their job very well.
This efficiency is based on the premise that you still eat nutritious food and lead a healthy lifestyle. This means you don’t rely on the supplements alone to meet your nutrient requirements.
That being said, certain nutrition supplements can indeed boost your overall wellness and even help manage the symptoms of your existing conditions.
Here are some ways dietary supplements have proven to be effective.
Folic acid can minimize the possibility of congenital disabilities, specifically in the child’s brain and spine.
Vitamin D and calcium can keep your bones healthy and strong.
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that support muscle activities and cell growth. You can only get this from food and supplements, as your body can’t naturally produce it. An example is fermented cod liver oil green pasture.
Probiotics are imperative for a healthier gut, as they offer the best support you can provide your digestive system.
Vitamin B is a must, especially for vegans, because it is common in animal foods and supports many bodily functions, like cell health, proper nerve function, energy production, and digestion.
What Are The Potential Dangers Of Nutritional Supplements?
Dietary supplements’ side effects heavily depend on your current state of health and the supplement you are taking.
Usually, these supplements don’t adversely affect your body. Since they work internally in your body, you won’t feel anything at all. The only time that they may cause side effects is when you take higher doses of the supplement than required or use it as medication and not as a supplement.
For example, overconsumption of vitamin A may increase your chances of developing osteoporosis. Consuming more than 400 units of vitamin E can potentially be fatal.
Supplements may also cause some adverse reaction if taken alongside specific medications. For instance:
Vitamin K can make warfarin, a blood thinner, less effective, thereby increasing the possibility of blood clots.
When taking chemotherapy medicines, avoid taking vitamins C and E, as these antioxidants weaken the effect of the drugs.
Avoid taking St. John’s wort with migraine treatments and antidepressants to avoid risk of seizures.
Additionally, taking too many dietary supplements at a time may increase the likelihood of experiencing negative side effects.
Are Dietary Supplements Safe?
Given the list of potential side effects, the next logical question is: Are dietary supplements safe?
Generally, dietary supplements are safe and pose no risk when used correctly and as intended. It pays to talk to your doctor so you can get advice and stick to one or two dietary supplements. If you’re taking a new supplement, listen to your body if it’s giving you indications that something is not quite right.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should You Take Dietary Supplements?
Unless the supplement specifically states that it should be taken at night, the best time to take your supplements is in the morning. At night, your digestive system slows down, so your body may not be able to get the most of the supplement’s benefits.
Once you have established a routine of taking your supplements in the morning, you need to be consistent about it.
Do You Have To Take Dietary Supplements Along With Food?
Yes, dietary supplements are best taken with food. Remember that food is still your primary source of vitamins and minerals and that these supplements are “add-ons.” Dietary supplements are intended only to support your system.
How Will I Know Which Supplement I Need?
An open conversation with your doctor or health professional will be critical because they’ll be the ones to advise you on which supplement to prioritize.
If you are confident that you are eating right and getting the required nutrients daily, then there’s no need to take additional dietary supplements. But if you need that extra help, then by all means, talk to your doctor.
Your doctor would appreciate you asking them what dietary supplements are and what kind you need because it means you are making your health a priority. Despite supplements being easily available, it still pays to be careful about what you’re letting your body absorb.