Nutritional health supplements can be used for a variety of reasons like to improve health, gain specific physical outcomes and enhance growth. The reason behind using a nutritional health supplement can be any; but it is important to ensure the credibility of a health supplement before popping the pill.
Everything is not meant for everyone. Before being laid back by the ornamental and promising claims of makers, it is important to judge the usability and benefit of a nutritional health supplement.
The fact that there is lack of a coherent regulation on supplements increases the need for ascertaining their reliability even more. There are some simple facts about supplements which should be known before making them a part of living. Important ones have been outlined here for creating awareness and avoiding compromise to healthy living.
The Need for Nutritional Health Supplements
Not everyone needs supplements; if you consume a sufficiently healthy diet taking all the essential nutrients naturally, there can be no need to take a health supplement. Nutrition can be best had naturally than through artificial sources. Nutritional supplements may be needed by those who cannot consume the required nutrients through natural sources for some reason. For example, lactose intolerant people may consider taking a calcium supplement because of their inability to take dairy products. Other conditions needing supplements include chronic diarrhea, food allergies and liver diseases.
Pregnant women may also need nutritional (prenatal) supplements to take care of their increased nutritional requirement, especially that of folate and iron. Older adults may benefit from taking specific health supplements like vitamin B-12. Vegetarians may also want health supplements owing to their restricted vegan diet. For others, supplement can be a useful way to achieve nutrition which they lack. However, nutritional needs should be primarily met through natural ingredients. Talk to your health expert about which supplements and what doses might suit you best.
Adequate Information for Being an Aware Consumer
There are some significant things you can look for when making a purchase (should you make any). You can find out whether the health supplement has been certified by an organization for safety on humans. In the U.S., the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) provides a seal for this purpose; there may also be a symbol from ConsumerLab.com or NSF International. Check for basic information like name of manufacturer, address, contact details, active ingredients of the supplement, serving size, etc. It is important to know the tolerable limit of any nutrient for avoiding excessive intake. You should also check expiry dates of supplements; do not purchase any which lacks this information. Supplements can lose their effectiveness over time and in hot temperatures.
Food and dietary supplements sounding too good can be dubious. Use common sense to judge the claims of health supplements which should seem scientifically unsound. Also check whether the supplement has been recalled or not. Take help from your pharmacist for understanding label and information. You can also contact the maker and verify about the product’s credibility. Important questions include any (reported) adverse effects of the product and safety concern.
Supplements in Comparison to Whole Foods
When you are investing in nutritional health supplements, do not expect the same returns as whole foods. It is not practical to have complete dependence on supplements because they cannot replace the benefits of whole foods.
Whole foods contain a combination of micronutrients while supplements lack this combination. For example, when taking an orange, you not only get vitamin C but beta carotene along with many other nutrients. However, a vitamin C supplement can only provide the vitamin without other nutrients (which are important for health). Fruits and vegetables have a protective role to play like preventing cancer and heart disease. Many of these provide antioxidants which naturally protects against cell damage.
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Side Effects and Potential Ills of Health Supplements
Supplements essentially may not have the right effect, and even if they do have, there may be side effects. There is lack of evidential support for many health supplements’ potential benefits. One among the group is omega3 fatty acids. These are naturally found in fatty fish and taking them as supplements has not been proven to have magnified benefits for the population across the world. Furthermore, the dosage of supplements is also important; excessive intake can be harmful for health, particularly the mineral and fat-soluble vitamins which are used for body building. There is a possibility of toxic effect on consuming more than the required dosage.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements just like prescription medications. There is a possibility that the label content may not match with the actual content and lead to potential adverse effects. An ‘all-natural’ supplement can also interact with medicines. It is important to consult your health expert before taking a health supplement to ascertain its effectiveness and reliability.