What are the benefits of dietary supplements?
For our bodies to stay healthy throughout our lives we need a consistent intake of the right vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. However, with our busy, hectic schedules it can be difficult to get the nutrients we need from food alone.
This is where dietary supplements come in. When taken in the right amounts, in conjunction with the best diet we can manage, plus a regular exercise routine, they can enhance our physical and mental wellbeing.
Here we share some benefits of dietary supplements and how they can help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
First thing’s first, what is a food supplement and how are they recognized?
According to the Food Standards Agency, a food supplement is, ‘any food the purpose of which is a concentrated source of a vitamin or mineral or other substance with a nutritional or physiological effect, alone or in combination and is sold in dose form.’
Supplements are usually in the form of a pill or capsule, but they can also be powders, foods, and drinks. They usually consist of a range of nutrients, including:
- Amino acids
- Essential fatty acids
- Plants and herbal extracts.
Everything has its pros and cons. It is important to be aware of any benefits or potential side effects before taking a new supplement.
They provide nutrients you may lack from your diet
Supplements can provide your body with any extra vitamins and nutrients lacking from your diet. They can contribute the micronutrients and minerals your body requires to thrive.
They combat deficiencies
Individual nutrients in higher doses can be purchased as supplements to treat deficiencies. For example, food supplements high in vitamin C are typically used to treat iron deficiency. Vitamin C is the only iron absorption enhancer for vegetarian diets.
They can help you reach your health and fitness goals
Depending on the supplements you choose, certain products work with you to achieve specific health and wellbeing goals. For example, supplements containing calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk of injuries for athletes by maintaining healthy bones and muscles.
Other benefits of food supplements
Food supplements can also offer these benefits:
- An improvement in your general health
- Reduce your risk of disease
- Stimulate your metabolism.
Don’t expect immediate results
You should always remember supplements benefit your body over time. If you expect dramatic results within a week or two, the chances are, you’ll be disappointed.
They are not adequate substitutes for food
Like it says on the tin, food supplements are exactly that: supplements. They should never be used as a substitute for meals.
Taking too many can be dangerous
Always take supplements in the recommended amounts. If you take too much your body will not absorb them. Overdoing it can also cause side-effects including diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, headaches, dry skin, blurred vision, fever, and even kidney problems.
In the UK, vitamins, minerals and amino acids present in dietary supplements must be ‘regulated as foods and subject to the provisions of general food law such as the Food Safety Act.’
When purchasing food supplements, you should buy them from a registered Food Business Operator (FBO). In the UK, it is a requirement that businesses selling or supplying supplements adhere to certain legal obligations before they can register.
Whether you buy supplements online, at the gym, in health shops, fitness suites, or tanning salons, it is important to check they are from a legitimate supplier registered as an FBO.
If you suffer from a medical condition or you are taking medication it is advisable to speak to your doctor before you begin taking a supplement.
Who particularly benefits from taking food supplements?
While taking the right food supplements is advantageous for most people, certain groups can particularly benefit, including:
As the body ages, it requires more of certain minerals and vitamins:
- Vitamin D and calcium for bone strength.
- Vitamin B-12 for nerve and red blood cell maintenance.
- Vitamin B-6 to help form red blood cells.
Food supplements can boost older adults’ immunity and general health.
Dietary supplements can provide many health benefits for vegetarians, vegans, people with food allergies, lactose intolerance, or those who have difficulty absorbing and digesting nutrients,
Whether you’re pregnant or planning on motherhood, taking food supplements that contain folate can be beneficial. To safeguard against birth defects, produce genetic materials and sustain healthy calcium and iron levels, it’s recommended women take 400 micrograms of folate on a daily basis.
Women aged 18-40 can benefit from taking supplements that meet their unique needs. Supplements containing magnesium, Omega-3 and vitamin D, for example, can relieve period pains and reduce premenstrual syndrome.
What is the best supplement to take if you’re feeling under the weather?
During current times we are all focused on keeping our immune systems strong. However, our busy lifestyles can make it very difficult to eat the balanced diet we need to stay healthy.
Are you feeling tired and run down? Our Immunity supplement contains 24 essential vitamins and minerals to give your immune system and energy levels a much-needed boost.