While some are designed to promote weight loss, others are meant to enhance strength, boost immunity, fight inflammation, and prevent disease. From protein powders to multivitamins, and nutraceuticals, dietary supplements come in many forms. All of them promise one or several health benefits. A good number of them live up to their promises, but quite a few tend to have the benefits exaggerated. Still, others have safety and efficacy issues surrounding them, and side effects or health complications are not unheard of, especially when overdosed.
Nonetheless, nutritional supplements are all the rage these days. As long as you pick a reputable brand, consult with your doctor before using them, and stick to the recommended dosage, supplements can be beneficial to your health. With this having been said, how much do you know about these dietary formulations? Before you make an order online or pick a bottle from the shelves, you may want to read this piece. Here’s a brief look at literally everything you need to know about supplements.
Different Supplements Serve Different Purposes
As earlier pointed out, there are different kinds of supplements based on the purpose they serve or the benefits they provide in the body. This means that while some may not be necessary for you, some may be a plus or a necessity. As seen on this reputed website, omega-3s, multivitamins, bone support formulations, immune boosters, Probiotics, and antioxidants are among the most popular supplements on the market these days. This is because most people need them or want them, perhaps even you included. It’s all about figuring out what you need before heading to the market.
Supplements Are Not Food!
As you can tell from the name, supplements are supposed to supplement your diet. In other words, they come to seal the gap between your diet and nutrient deficiencies. But more often than not, the hype that comes with supplements steers a lot of emotions. Some people will replace a well-balanced diet or healthy eating with a pill that was manufactured in the factory! Even when supplementing, it is advisable to stick to a nutrient-dense diet as much as you can and give it a boost with your pills or powders. Simply put, supplements are meant to provide the body with the health support it needs as opposed to replacing the consumer’s natural diet. Nothing beats the power of the nutrients on that plate of healthy food!
Supplement Quality Matters
Before you start to use a certain supplement, it is important to do some background research on the product’s quality. As we mentioned earlier, supplements have flooded the market these days, and you can encounter ineffective or unsafe products. The best supplements are usually backed by scientific research to prove the manufacturer’s claims and guarantee consumer safety. This is an important consideration to make because, apparently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t stamp the safety of supplements and other nutritional products. They do not directly regulate (non-medical grade) supplements on the market.
This often creates room for scammers and greedy entrepreneurs in the supplement market. However, the US Pharmacopeia maintains a program to verify the eligibility of the products. Some set standards the manufacturers should meet include ensuring that the product:
- Doesn’t contain harmful contaminants
- Contains ingredients as listed, in the claimed strength and quantities
- Will be absorbed and be metabolized in the body
- Was made according to good manufacturing practices (GMP) for supplements
Supplements Can Interfere With Your Health Conditions
Before taking a dietary supplement for whatever purpose, you need to know its contents. Some supplements may contain constituents that do not pair well with certain medications. Supplement-drug interactions are not unheard of, and in some cases, the supplement may interfere with the drug’s function, possibly leading to unpleasant side effects. For instance, some antioxidants may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments, whereas Vitamin K can lower the efficacy of blood thinners. Some herbal concoctions can harm the liver or cause other side effects, which brings us to the next important pointer.
Consult Your Doctor for Advice
Before you buy or start taking a supplement, it is paramount that you consult with your medical practitioner. This is especially the case if you have a chronic illness, are on medication, pregnant, or breastfeeding. Extreme caution should also be taken before giving supplements to kids.
Most of the time, we get influences from the people around us with testimonials of how a certain supplement has worked for them. But hey, hold your horses! One man’s meat may as well be another’s poison. Seek medical advice before engaging in any supplements. Once you get the green light to use the supplement, you will want to
- Adhere to the provided directions of usage
- Store them away from children
- Check the ingredients in case you have allergies
And there you have it. Before you get all thrilled up by the advertised benefits, determine whether you actually need the supplement. Know the ingredients, assess its quality, learn about the potential side effects or risks, and know the recommended dosage. It’s also important to find out how to take the product, when, and for how long you should use it. Most importantly, discussing your options with a certified healthcare provider will help you settle on what will be safe and effective for your needs.