Dietary Supplements: Who Should Consider Adding Them to Their Regime?

The human body needs vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to function optimally. When the supply of these nutrients is disrupted for any reason, the person may find their health declines. However, men and women often discover they cannot get the nutrients they need for their diet alone. They must seek other ways to ensure their body has everything it needs for good health.

People cannot use dietary supplements to replace a healthy diet, but products obtained from provide essential nutrients the body may be lacking. The individual must use the supplements responsibly to benefit their health. Many people do so today with great success. In fact, nearly 60 percent of Americans take supplements monthly. What should a person know before purchasing and taking products of this type?

Understanding Dietary Supplements

A dietary supplement serves as a product that contains nutrients the human body needs. These nutrients may include vitamins and minerals, amino acids or the building blocks of protein, botanical ingredients or herbal ones, and complex proteins known as enzymes that increase the speed of biochemical reactions. Individuals may purchase supplements in capsule, tablet, powder, or liquid form. However, they are not medications and should not be used to treat or cure a disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration bears the responsibility of regulating these products to ensure they won’t harm users.

The Safety of Dietary Supplements

Before a person puts anything in their body, they need to ask if it is safe for human consumption. Dietary supplement manufacturers must adhere to certain standards when creating their products to ensure quality throughout the manufacturing process. In addition, they must guarantee the accuracy of the labels found on these products because they are ultimately responsible for making sure the products are safe for users.

Any time a supplement is found to have a serious problem, such as a side effect, the manufacturer must alert the FDA. Manufacturers are required to report all adverse events to protect consumers from harmful products. The FDA then evaluates the product and the claim of an adverse event to determine if the product needs to be removed from the market. The agency also investigates supplements when it is believed the claims on the product label are misleading or false.

The Consumer’s Responsibility

Consumers aren’t off the hook when it comes to knowing what they are putting into the body. Every person should learn as much as they can about a supplement before using it. The internet is not a good resource when a person wishes to obtain this information. If a product makes a claim that sounds too good to be true, look elsewhere. Talk with your healthcare provider or reach out to the product manufacturer to get accurate information about the supplement rather than believing the word of someone on the internet.

Why Would a Person Take Dietary Supplements?

Dietary supplements provide a number of benefits, depending on the supplement being taken. People may take supplements for their general health or to boost their sports-related performance. Some people find the use of supplements improves their mental acuity, and other individuals turn to supplements as a way to support their immune system.

Doctors often recommend prenatal vitamins, a type of dietary supplement, for women who are expecting or plan to get pregnant. Low levels of folate in the woman’s body can lead to birth defects in her unborn child. The woman needs folate, a B vitamin, so her infant can produce genetic materials such as DNA. The prenatal vitamins often contain other important nutrients, such as calcium and iron.

Men and women, as they age, require certain vitamins and minerals in higher quantities than younger individuals. Calcium and Vitamin D are two examples of this, as bone strength declines in older individuals. The body needs Vitamin B-6 to form blood cells and Vitamin B-12 to maintain these red blood cells after they form.

Individuals on restricted diets, such as men and women with food allergies and those who are vegan, might need dietary supplements. The diet they follow may not provide the vitamins and minerals their body needs. The supplement ensures they get these nutrients.

Should I Speak to My Doctor First?

Individuals should not go out and purchase one or more dietary supplements without speaking to their doctor. Certain supplements could interact with over-the-counter and prescription medications. The person purchasing the supplement may not realize this and do harm to their health while they are trying to improve it. The same holds for individuals with a medical condition and pregnant women. Always speak with the doctor before taking any supplement just to be on the safe side.

More Information

Consumers need to read the label of any product they are considering buying. Under current FDA guidelines, every dietary supplement must contain certain information on the label. This information must include the ingredients found in the product and the “Supplement Facts” label. What can a consumer find on this label?

Here, consumers find a table that shares what percentage of the daily requirement of each nutrient is found in the product. For example, when the label says 100 percent DV for Vitamin A, this means taking the supplement will provide the user with the full dose of Vitamin A they need each day. Men and women must recognize these calculations apply to individuals who take in 2,000 calories a day, so they should only be used as an estimate. In addition, the label tells the user the right dosage for the product.

Possible Side Effects

People rarely need to worry about side effects when taking dietary supplements. If a person does experience any adverse effects, they tend to come in the form of gas, bloating, heartburn, and digestive upset. However, if a person takes more than the recommended dose, they could experience more serious side effects. If you take a supplement and experience bleeding, a headache, or nausea, contact your doctor for guidance. Liver damage has been reported with excessive use of certain supplements. Let your doctor know if you have any adverse effects, and report these side effects to the FDA.

Supplements, when used properly, help countless individuals. However, take care when using these products. The goal is to improve your health. When used properly, supplements achieve this goal. When used improperly, they can do significant harm. For this reason, always talk to your doctor before taking a supplement, so you don’t encounter problems when doing so.

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