Dietary supplements refer to a product that is consumed with the intended purpose of either increasing the intake of nutrients or to allegedly assist with some form of biological effects in the body. That is to say; aside from increasing the level of nutrients, diet supplements are often considered a means of maintaining or losing weight.
Contrary to popular belief, dietary supplements are not intended to cure or prevent illness. However, they do contain a large number of vital nutrients which can undoubtedly enrich the internal environment of a body and impact a lot more than the process of weight-loss or to gain muscle.
With this in mind, we will now take a look at the reasoning for supplements and the potential impact they can have on your body.
Nutrients and the relevance of supplements
Nutrients refer to the nourishment required for a body to grow and these include carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. In fact, without these basic nutrients, the body is unable to function, and an insufficient amount of minerals, fibre, or amino acids is detrimental to the health of an individual.
While it is against the law to market supplements as a product to treat, prevent, or cure disease, it is still common for a person to purchase these products in the hope that they will improve their health. Such examples are Vitamin C, fish oils, ginseng or Multi-vitamins which many people buy even without the guidance of a health professional.
In spite of such negative connotations, it is still common knowledge that supplements can contribute to a healthy immune system and while most essential nutrients can be found in food intake alone, dietary supplements are sometimes an ideal solution to make up for any shortcomings.
The rise of supplements and the need for nutrients
Supplements are widely regarded as a means of maintaining or losing weight, but the relevance of nutrient intake holds importance in a much more general sense. After all, people require these basic nutrients regardless as to whether or not they have concerns about their weight.
In a time when everyone seems to be so busy and, unhealthy food choices are presented at every turn, the likelihood of an insufficient nutrient intake is higher than ever. Furthermore, the general content of nutrients within this food is increasingly compromised – the result of factors such as pollution or food processing. In fact, the increased amount of processing is a particularly significant reason for this decline as processed foods contain fewer nutrients than any other.
When the use of supplements may not be beneficial
Dietary supplements have a significant biological impact on the body, and this process can be the cause of complications for the health of an individual. For example, according to recent studies, more than fifty percent of people who use supplements are suspected to have an eating disorder and essentially use these supplements for weight-loss.
Similarly, while omega acids and antioxidants are considered beneficial when it comes to reducing the risk of cancer or heart disease, recent studies have cast uncertainty over this theory. And then clinical trials have found that multivitamins do not improve the health of most individuals while particular ingredients also have harmful side effects relating to blood pressure and heart disease.
Manufacturers of these products will make promises suggesting otherwise and often ignore this clinical advice. However, these promises are often sales-speak, and it should be noted that any clinical studies do not support these statements.
When the use of supplements can be beneficial
In spite of the above dangers and potential drawbacks, many supplements are considered harmless, and even more can burn fat, boost metabolism and improve a sense of health for the person taking them. Supplements such as minerals, fatty acids, and vitamins are also proven to enhance the internal environment of a body and make up for the absence of nutrients for which certain foods contain.
In some instances, health practitioners may suggest the use of supplements. For example, many physiotherapists or chiropractors recommend magnesium to their patients as insufficient magnesium can lead to muscle spasms, high blood pressure or heart problems. Furthermore, magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body yet studies show that most people are deficient in this mineral which is the reason for which the health practitioners recommend it.
In terms of deciphering these levels of insufficiency, naturopaths and doctors can use blood tests to determine this extent and then sometimes recommend which supplements are required. For example, doctors often recommend Vitamin B-12 to people with fewer red blood cells than usual.
Achieving the right balance with supplements?
While natural produce and healthy food is the best way to ensure a healthy diet, supplements are an option for which most people can explore when it comes to attaining a healthy balance. There is simply no substitute for fresh fruit and green vegetables, but studies and results have proven that they can be beneficial in some circumstances.
With that said, the dangers related to the use of supplements should also be clear and this is possibly the most important aspect to consider before using them. In any case, the best way to make any decision is to be informed and in which case, now might be a good time to speak with your healthcare provider.
Written for Northern Beaches Mums by SA Wellness Centre.