There are a lot of food supplements in the market today but the question is, who are they for? Are they beneficial or harmful to you? Who should be taking them? In this article, we would answer all these questions by walking you through the general recommendations on taking these food supplements.
Supplements contain a higher amount of nutrients than can be found in most foods. They include vitamins (from A to K), fish oils, amino acids, fiber, essential fatty acids, plants and herbal extracts, and minerals like iron. They are produced and available in pills, capsules, tablets, and liquids.
Food supplements are taken to correct nutritional deficiencies, to support specific physiological functions, or to maintain an adequate intake of certain nutrients. Food supplements are not medicinal products so, they cannot exert an immunological, pharmacological, or metabolic action.
Their intended use is not for the treatment of diseases. However, most food supplements have been proven to provide a lot of health benefits. Fish oils help to improve the health of the heart and food supplements containing minerals like iron could help prevent anemia.
Though food supplements are not medicinal products, they should, however, be taken according to the prescribed dosage by your dietitian. Only a certain amount of each nutrient is required for our body to function properly. High dosages end up doing more harm than good to our body system.
However, not everyone needs to take these supplements. In fact, food supplements should only be taken if prescribed to you by your doctor or dietitian.
Carol Haggans, consultant to NIH and a registered dietitian said: “It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods, so you don’t have to take one. But supplements can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet.”
So, who needs food supplements? First, it is important to note that taking food supplements is not a substitute for a balanced and healthy diet. A diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and adequate protein is sufficient enough to provide all the nutrients required for good health.
People with poor eating habits and low nutrition intake would need to take food supplements to make up for the inadequate nutritional content in their bodies.
However, there are certain people who might need to take supplements even though, they are eating a healthy balanced diet. One such category of people are women of childbearing age.
Research has shown that inadequate intake of iron in young women would increase the risk of infants being born with delayed brain development, iron deficiency, and low birth weight.
Folate status is also important for women of childbearing age. All women of childbearing age should take a 400μg folic acid supplement daily.
They are usually advised to take folic acid before conception and to continue taking it for the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy. An adequate folate status would decrease the risk of giving birth to a child with neural tube defects like spina bifida.
Also, in some situations, your doctor might advise you to take food supplements. For example, old people may sometimes have difficulties absorbing the nutrients needed from food and might need to take food supplements like probiotics to help aid nutrient absorption.
Supplements may also be needed for fragile bones. Pregnant women also fall into the category of people who would need to take food supplements.
Light decreases the melatonin production level and signals the body that it is time to wake. People who have trouble sleeping possibly have low levels of Melatonin production in their body. However, taking Melatonin supplements would help address this problem.
Melatonin supplements can also be used for endometriosis. Taking the controlled-release form of Melatonin under the supervision of a physician has been proven to help lower blood pressure for people with high blood pressure.
Biotin can be gotten from the following food sources: Organ meats (kidney and liver), egg yolk, nuts (like peanuts, almonds, and walnuts), nut butter, cereals, and whole grains, soya beans, bananas, and mushrooms.
Probiotics are also used in the treatment of various gastrointestinal disorders. Probiotics help digestion and improve the absorption of nutrients. Probiotics lower PH levels in the colon and also helps absorb protein in your diet.
They are used as therapy for a number of gastrointestinal diseases such as polyps and colorectal cancer, malabsorption syndromes, peptic ulcer disease (PUD), ulcerative colitis, anal fistula, IBS, GERD, diarrhea, constipation, and so on.
Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods and cultured milk. However, probiotics can also be produced and synthesized in the laboratory as probiotics supplements.
Summarily, you do not need to take any food supplements if you are eating a balanced and healthy diet. You should also remember that taking too many supplements can be harmful and can cause unwanted side effects.
So, do not take any supplements without prescription from your doctor or dietician and ensure you take it according to the recommended dosage.