Dietary supplements are products designed to augment your daily intake of nutrients, usually the vitamins and minerals. There are more than 50,000 dietary supplements available. Examples of dietary supplements include; vitamins, minerals, botanical (herbal) products, amino acids, essential fatty acids and oils, enzymes, probiotics, and animal organ and glandular extracts.
What you should ask yourself before taking dietary supplements?
1) What are the potential health benefits of this dietary supplement product?
2) What are its potential benefits for me?
3) Does this product have any safety risks?
4) What is the proper dose to take?
5) How, when, and for how long should I take it?
Benefits of Some Dietary Supplements
Normally, you should be able to get all the nutrients you need from a balanced diet. However, taking supplements can provide additional nutrients when your diet is lacking or when certain health conditions cause you to develop an insufficiency or deficiency.
Some dietary supplements with their benefits include;
Calcium: It is used to reduce the risk of and treat osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.
Vitamin D: You need vitamin D to absorb and utilize calcium. Most of your vitamin D intake comes from exposure to sunlight. It is used in treatment of rickets.
Fish Oil: Omega-3 fatty acids will help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Folic Acid: Folic acid supplements are recommended for any woman who may become pregnant. They are used to reduce the risk of spinal birth defects. The recommended amount for adults is 400 micrograms per day.
Niacin: Is used to raise good cholesterol
Chondroitin and Glucosamine: They have been found to be beneficial in relieving pain especially from osteoarthritis.
Probiotics: Foods like yogurt and fermented foods naturally contain bacteria called probiotics. These bacteria are similar to the friendly bacteria commonly found in your digestive system. Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements and may be beneficial for people with irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea.
Risks of Taking Supplements
Most dietary supplements are safe as long as you follow the label instructions, but large doses of certain nutrients can have strong biological effects on the body. While that may be beneficial in some cases, there are times when taking large doses of individual supplements can be dangerous.
• Fat-soluble vitamins A and D can build up to toxic levels in your body when taken in large doses over extended periods of time.
• Prolonged use of vitamin B-6 in large amounts can cause nerve damage.
• Large doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea.
• Mineral supplements taken at high doses can be dangerous.
• Antioxidant supplements, like vitamins C and E, might reduce the effectiveness of some types of cancer chemotherapy.
• Some supplements can increase the risk of bleeding or, if a person takes them before or after surgery, they can affect the person’s response to anesthesia.
• Some dietary supplements can interact with over-the-counter or prescription medications
What to do before taking any supplements?
Ask your health care provider about supplements before taking anything beyond basic multiple-vitamins. Some over-the-counter dietary supplements have been found to have no benefit.
Keep in mind that some ingredients found in dietary supplements are added to a growing number of foods, including breakfast cereals and beverages. As a result, you may be getting more of these ingredients than you think, and more might not be better.