Most of us are used to taking vitamins and supplements that contain minerals, enzymes, and other ingredients such as amino acids. Dietary supplements are available as capsules, tablets, powders, drinks, and energy bars.
While it is vital to focus on a balanced and varied diet and follow a healthy lifestyle, the purpose behind it is to optimize health and get complete vitamins and minerals that may be missing in the diet.
Most popular dietary supplements contain vitamins D and B12, calcium, iron, probiotics, and fish oils. For example, cranberry vitamins may help prevent cancer and heart disease.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements can decrease the possibility of losing bone loss, while Omega-3 fatty acids are taken by those with heart disease.
The science behind the impact of supplements on the body is not easy to understand as different factors can impact the potential benefits and risks of taking these supplements.
Observational studies from randomized controlled trials show that those who supplement generally are health conscious and follow a healthier lifestyle.
Certain aspects, such as dietary factors, exercise habits, and genetics, cannot be controlled, and thus, it can be difficult to realize the real health benefits of taking these supplements.
In some studies with rigorous testing, some of those supplements were found to be risky and ineffective.
It is fundamental to recognize that dietary supplements fall under a wide range of products that can interact and impact the body in different ways based on the individual health status, the dosage, and the bioavailability.
Impact of supplements
Certain micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, play critical roles in preserving the health of our body. Any deficiencies in these nutrients can weaken the body’s functioning and immune system and cause a range of health issues.
In most cases, individuals do benefit from supplementation, especially if they have any deficiency or medical conditions.
For example, vitamin D can boost bone health, while Folic acid is essential for pregnant women. Doctors highly recommend these supplements to meet the nutritional needs of certain people.
Herbal supplements such as ginkgo biloba, garlic, echinacea, and others are known for boosting the cognitive and immune systems of the body and ensuring cardiovascular benefits.
However, as these plant-based compounds and botanical extracts can vary in quality, it is difficult to understand the complex science behind the supplementation and to support their efficacy.
Another category of supplements, amino acids, has gained immense attention and popularity among athletes and fitness enthusiasts, as they play a central role in muscle building. One needs to consume all essential amino acids from dietary sources in a balanced way.
However, the effectiveness of dietary supplements depends on numerous factors such as one’s age, lifestyle, body’s ability to absorb nutrients, the presence of other compounds, and individual digestive health. Limited absorption can lead to a deficiency of these nutrients, while excessive supplements can be harmful, too.
Intake of excessive supplements
There is no denying that certain vitamins and minerals are vital for the health of our body, but any excessive intake can lead to adverse results.
For instance, an excess of vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are fat-soluble vitamins, can lead to toxicity due to their accumulation in the body.
Too much intake of water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins C and B, can cause adverse effects on the heart.
It is essential to consult your doctor and dietician for the recommended dietary allowances of these vitamins and minerals to avoid excessive supplementation.
As individual nutrient needs can vary and depend on factors such as health status, age, and gender, it is essential to follow the guidelines of an expert to benefit completely from specific supplements.
Just relying on these supplements cannot compensate for a poor lifestyle and unhealthy diet. One must follow a healthy lifestyle, a nutrient-rich diet, and regular exercise.
Thus, a multifaceted approach is needed to understand the science behind the impact of supplements and how to address nutrient deficiencies to meet specific health goals.
Consult healthcare professionals and individual health needs and get a complete understanding of supplements to make informed choices regarding your health and well-being.
Read the dietary supplement label to know the active ingredients, the serving size, and the amount that is more appropriate for you.
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