Everyone desires a healthy and energetic body. You do it too, don’t you? But maintaining good health in this hectic modern life is difficult. Accommodating daily exercise in a busy schedule is not easy. Nor is eating a nutritious and balanced diet always possible. You can blame it on laziness or poor dietary choices. Or you can excuse it with inability and lack of time. But it remains true that too many people around the world are deficient in vital nutrients. In such a case, dietary supplements can prove useful in adding nutrients and minerals to your diet and enhancing your overall wellness.
What are food supplements?
Food supplements deliver the nutrients that one might be deficient in. These include supplements of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, etc. Food supplements are also called dietary supplements or nutritional supplements. They come in the form of tablets, capsules, powder, liquid, etc. When taken in moderation, these can help in removing the nutrient and mineral deficiency.
The growing popularity of dietary supplements
In a recent CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, 77 % of Americans admitted to consuming dietary supplements. As per this survey report, the majority of people aged 18+ take dietary supplements. Among the various age groups, people between the 35 to 54 age group reported the most intake of food supplements.
This is nothing surprising considering that poor dietary and lifestyle choices often leave people deficient in essential nutrients. So, taking nutritional supplements often becomes necessary. They can also help in enhancing energy levels, the strength of the body, and overall wellness.
Are food supplements necessary for all?
You might wonder, ‘Do all people need dietary supplements?’ The short and sweet answer is, ‘No.’ Healthy people taking proper exercise and balanced, nutrition-rich food do not need food supplements. They should be able to fulfill all their nutrient needs from the food they take.
However, not all people are able to fully absorb nutrients from food, even if they take a balanced diet. There are many people who do need supplements and should take them. Supplements can help to fill the nutrient gaps in your diet. They can help you fight against the adverse effects of old age and sickness and might even prevent the onslaught of certain diseases.
The problem of Bioavailability:
Bioavailability refers to how your body absorbs nutrients from the food you consume. This ability of absorption of nutrients is not equal in all people. It can vary depending upon your age, gender, food combination, and medical conditions. For example, a pregnant woman’s body absorbs a greater amount of nutrients. On the other hand, an older person’s body absorbs fewer nutrients.
The bioavailability decreases with age. It can be hampered by food combinations too. For example, if your diet has an excess of dark leafy vegetables or food with high fiber content, it can reduce the absorption of minerals.
If you are young and healthy and eat a balanced diet, your body’s bioavailability remains balanced too. But there are many causes that can disturb this balance and cause nutrient deficiency. At such a time, food supplements can help in reducing the deficiency and maintaining the nutrient balance in your body.
Who might need food supplements?
While dietary supplements are not necessary for everyone, they are recommended for people with certain life conditions. People over 50 years of age can benefit a lot from the judicious use of food supplements. A low-dose multivitamin supplement can help in reducing the adverse effects of old age and help in maintaining a healthy body. Intake of Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and folate can prove very beneficial.
Supplements for Folic Acid, Vitamin D, and iron are recommended for women of childbearing age. Women need more iron during pregnancy, and breastfed infants require vitamin D. So supplements providing these nutrients and Folic acid can be beneficial for young women.
Young children (under age 5) who refuse to take proper diet may become deficient in vitamins and minerals. This can hamper their growth and overall wellbeing. Supplements of Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D can help them remain energetic and healthy.
People can become deficient in Vitamin D if they get insufficient exposure to the sun. This, in turn, can lead to calcium deficiency and weak bones. A dietary supplement of Vitamin D can help prevent this problem.
Vegans can also become deficient in some vital nutrients. Intake of Vitamin B12, vitamin D2 can prove beneficial to them.
People dealing with certain diseases and disorders might often experience an imbalance of nutrients in their bodies. Food supplements can help a lot in regaining this balance.
Advantages of food supplements:
Compensate for a poor diet
A proper diet is always preferable over dietary supplements. However, if you feel your diet lacks vital nutrients, supplements can help fill the gaps and keep you healthy.
2. Help fight against nutrient deficiency:
By giving you a dose of vital minerals and vitamins, food supplements can help in reducing nutrient deficiency. A proper balance of nutrients in your body is necessary for good health.
3. Protect against disease:
Dietary supplements can strengthen your body. And a strong body is better able to fight against diseases. So, food supplements can help in maintaining good health. For example, pregnant women are advised to take folic acid. This can help protect the baby against conditions like spina bifida. Vitamin D is often recommended for strong bones and sufficient absorption of calcium.
4. Make you more energetic:
Supplements can help in enhancing your muscular strength, endurance, and physical performance. That is the reason sports persons often take food supplements to stay strong and energetic.
5. Support treatment of certain diseases:
Health practitioners often prescribe some food supplements to complement or enhance the effect of certain medicines. They can prove invaluable in the treatment of certain medical conditions too.
6. Enhance your general wellness:
Certain food supplements are recommended for people of all ages. For example, health practitioners consider Omega supplements highly beneficial. They can improve children’s learning abilities. They can help in preventing conditions like heart disease, anxiety, depression. Omega supplements can also help in reducing the effects of certain skin disorders, ADHD, and asthma in children.
While food supplements have many health benefits, you must be careful before taking them.
- Be judicious. Don’t take an excessive amount of food supplements. An excess of some nutrients can reduce the absorption of some other nutrients in your body. So, keep the use of food supplements moderate.
- If you feel an adverse effect after starting a food supplement, consult a doctor immediately.
- Don’t blindly start a supplement just because its advertisement impresses you. Learn about it. Learn about what nutrients it delivers and in what quantities. Do you really need that much? What side-effects it may cause? Only start a supplement once you are satisfied you need it and it is safe.
- Most importantly, consult a health practitioner before starting a food supplement. A doctor or dietician would best be able to tell you what you need to take and in what quantities.
Taken judiciously and in moderation, food supplements can enhance your overall health and wellbeing. But don’t get swayed by advertisements or recommendations from your friends and families. What benefits your friend may not benefit you. So educate yourself and consult a doctor before starting any dietary supplement. If you do that, you can reap their health benefits without feeling any adverse effects.