Basics of Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

What are dietary supplements?

They’re everywhere and perhaps you’re taking some already. We eat and drink dietary supplements daily to make up for those vitamins, minerals, herbs or other plants, amino acids (the individual building blocks of protein) which are not housed in our bodies.

We’ve all visited the local health food store at some point in our lives. Whether just visiting with a friend or to purchase an item, dietary supplements are an industry all to themselves. Now grocery, stores, drug stores, and internet stores all offer vitamin supplements for sale. People flock to these establishments daily, just to reap the health benefits that accompany dietary supplements.

Now, they’re not a substitute for food although a small percentage of people use them for that exact reason. Supplements come in a variety of forms including pill, capsule, tablet, liquid, and they’re now available for vegans and vegetarians.

What are the common dietary supplements?

Vitamins (like Vitamin A, Vitamin B, or Vitamin C), minerals (such as chromium and iron), botanicals (herbs and plant products) and those that are derived from natural sources such as Omega 3 fatty acids make up the major dietary supplements.

What are dietary supplements used for?

People use dietary supplements for many health conditions.

It’s important to note that the Food and Drug Administration prohibits companies that manufacture supplements from making claims to cure disease. That being said, many individuals will utilize vitamins and minerals to supplement their diet and also a preventative approach to fighting disease. Echinacea has a reputation for cold prevention and high doses of vitamin C may also help you get better faster because of the antioxidant properties it possesses.

Historically, people have tried supplements since back to the 1800’s. The herbal medicines have been employed in an effort to prevent illness, cure infection, reduce fever, and heal wounds. Herbal medicines can also treat constipation, ease pain, or act as relaxants or stimulants.

It’s important to understand that research has shown that while some herbs and plant products have provided relief and positive effects similar to that of conventional medicines, others may have no effect at all or may be harmful.

Bottom line is always error on the safe side of supplement usage.

Researchers have studied some natural products and have found them to be useful. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, may help lower triglyceride levels.

FDA Regulation Related to Food and Recipes

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rules and regulations which forbid manufacturers of dietary supplements from legally saying “dietary supplements can diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. But they can say that they contribute to health maintenance and well-being.”

There is no regulatory body for dietary supplements. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medicine but not supplements. As such, claims as to how well a supplement works are legal in a marketing program.

Dietary supplements do have side effects much like conventional medicines. They can trigger allergic reactions, cause adverse to currently taken prescription medication, over-the-counter medications, or other supplements you could be ingesting at the time.