Dietary Supplements: Are They A Good Idea for Nutrition?

by Head Health Nutter on April 7, 2015

Ah, this is one of my favourite debates! In the past it’s been a hot subject. I wonder if it still is? To test this out, today we have guest blogger, Jefferey Morgan, who shares with us his opinion and what he’s found out on the subject.

Dietary supplements are used by many people to ensure the correct nutrients are consumed every day. The medical profession generally agrees that the body’s daily needs should be met via food which is consumed. If you’re wondering why this is so:

Benefits of Nutrition in FoodHerbal supplements

As food sources are far more complex than a pill, they have a variety of vitamins in them as opposed to just the one you get from most pills. Scientists have summarized that many of these vitamins and minerals are designed to work better when consumed together.

Obviously, food is made up of more than just nutrients and minerals. There are many other substances which assist the body in preventing disease and in general well-being. Fiber for example, is essential to the body. It helps prevent many diseases and especially for preventing and treating constipation.

Many of these naturally occurring substances are not found in a bottle or pills, and if they are, they also contain additional “fillers” or “preservatives” which may not be natural.

Dieting and other Miracle Cures

The old adage of “if it’s too good to be true" definitely applies in this case. Clever marketing may suggest that certain pills can replace food or cause weight loss. In fact, pills can never be a replacement for a healthy diet and exercise. They are designed to fill gaps in our nutritional intake and are a valuable aid when used for this purpose.

Many people who eat healthy diets and partake in regular exercise, may not require additional supplementation. However, there is some interesting controversy circulating where some argue that the level of vitamins and minerals found in our food today are low due to various factors, such as pollution and harvesting before food is ripe to allow for transportation time.

(Editor’s Note: For more on this debate, check out Are Nutritional Supplements Necessary? and Supplements vs. Nature.)

However, there are a variety of reasons when dietary supplements are essential:

  • Pregnant women are recommended to take folic acid to assist in preventing birth defects. They often need to take iron supplements as their own levels of iron can be drastically reduced by their unborn child.
  • Adults over 50 are recommended to take vitamin B12 supplements. B12 assists in brain functions, particularly affecting the nervous system.
  • Vitamin D is essential for those over 65. Studies have shown that it reduces the risk of falling. This in turn reduces the risk of injury and assists in living a long healthy life.
  • People with food allergies or sensitivities may not get enough of the essential nutrients through their special diets and may need to take supplements to ensure they stay healthy.

There are many other situations where you may need dietary supplements. This is particularly true if you are too stressed and busy to eat well or obtain enough calories throughout a day. Smokers and drinkers can be nutritionally deficient as these substances require nutrients from the body in order to process them; plus those who like their vices a lot tend to choose their vice over food.

Vegetarians, vegans and others who have food-related philosophies, preferences or values they choose to follow with their diets are vulnerable to certain nutritional deficiencies. Equally, you may need supplements if you have a medical condition which affects your ability to absorb vital vitamins and nutrients or if you have had surgery on your digestive system.

There are several points to be aware of when considering adding supplements to your diet. Here are some guidelines you might want to be aware of:

1. Taking too much

It is possible to take too much of some nutrients. An excessive amount of folic acid is known to increase the risk of nerve damage from a lack of vitamin B12. Various metals which the body needs are not easily expelled from the body and can result in harmful build-ups.

2. Side Effects

Some supplements can react with your existing medication (or other supplements). It is therefore highly advisable to speak to your doctor before taking any supplements. You should make yourself aware of what side effects you may have so that you can act accordingly.

3. Nutritional help

Whether you are on medication or not it is wise to consult a nutritionist. They will assist in evaluating your diet and which supplements will assist in keeping your good health. When purchasing the recommended supplements always ensure they are in date and never take extremely large doses. It is also advisable to keep an eye on the Food and Drink Agency who keep tabs on supplements and their effects.

Dietary supplements do have a place in our lives but only to assist our missing needs. They should be used with caution and regularly monitored. Combine a proper diet plan with supplementation and an active lifestyle if you want to live a happy, nutritionally-balanced lifestyle.

About the Author

Jefferey Morgan is interested in writing about health and fitness related issues. He has a deep knowledge at this field. Also he writes for a site which offers high-quality vitamins and supplements at the best possible prices.

What are your views on the supplements vs nature debate?

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