What are Supplements? A dietary supplement is usually a manufactured edible product intended to augment one’s daily diet by consuming a capsule, pill, tablet, powder or even liquid. In modern times, a supplement may provide specific nutrients either natural or extracted from animal sources so as to enhance the amount of the daily intake. In addition, it may also be used for specific health conditions or diseases. For instance, a doctor may prescribe supplements for his patient depending on his physical condition and requirement.
In general, supplements can be classified into three categories: long-term, short-term and term natural. Long-term supplements are usually taken every day to help maintain a particular health state or symptom. Short-term supplements are used for curing certain health conditions. And term natural supplements are generally made from plant ingredients such as herbs, essential oils, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients. The ingredients of supplements can vary from term natural to long-term, short-term and natural.
As per the definition given above, dietary supplements are generally designed to augment the missing nutrients in the body. But sometimes, they serve to replace certain required vitamins and other important nutrients that are not naturally available in the diet. For instance, some people may not be able to get sufficient amount of iron while some may suffer from a deficiency of Vitamin A, etc. Hence, supplements act as an integral part of the healthcare system by supplying all the essential nutrients for the well-being of the human body. They are not just food substitutes but are also made to replace certain prescribed medicines.
In modern medicine and science, we come across several supplements that claim to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease. But we don’t know the true facts behind these claims. Instead, we often get mislead by unscrupulous marketers into believing that these are real medicines. Some also take advantage of the weakened state of health Government in the U.S. to sell various bogus products. However, it is always advisable to check with your family doctor before taking any supplementary vitamin or medicine. The truth is that most of these nutritional supplements cannot help you in any lasting way except when consumed along with a balanced diet.
Some common types of dietary supplements include vitamin B complex, beta carotene, and calcium. These are mainly used for improving eyesight. However, the type of nutrients that fall in this category differ in nature. Some are effective against certain viruses, while others are effective against some diseases. Some nutrients are even helpful for strengthening the immune system. Hence, it is always good to check with your family doctor before consuming any supplement.
It is also advisable to take a close look at the food supplements. The composition of these supplements varies as per the food that is eaten by us. Hence, it is important to keep an eye on what you eat. For example, it is not advisable to take a supplement that includes a lot of artificial sweeteners, additives, and preservatives unless you have a perfectly balanced healthy diet.
Another important thing that should be kept in mind while buying such supplements is the use of words like ‘natural’. A large number of people buy supplements that include certain chemicals. These chemicals are added because they can be patented and hence; there is little restriction over their usage. A large number of ingredients like steroids and some antibiotics are listed as natural ingredients in supplements but they can adversely affect the human body in the long run. Hence, it is important to be aware of the ingredients that are included in any supplement that you buy from your local drug store or supermarket.
One should also be careful about dietary supplements that claim to contain ‘active cultures’. Such a claim does not mean that the ingredient used in the supplement has had any effect on any disease in humans. It only means that the product has been claimed to have some beneficial effect on the health. So, always check the label and read all the ingredients that are included in the dietary supplement before you purchase it.