The processing of food which involves cooking and preserving leads to the depletion of nutrients in our food supply which makes it more difficult to obtain the adequate nutrition that we need. Nowadays, most adults take nutritional or dietary supplements every day to meet their nutritional needs.
In taking supplements, it is important to consider basic information on nutritional supplements, since they are only intended to supplement your diet and not replace your need to eat nutritious food.
Some individuals especially need supplements because of their specific dietary requirements. Most of these individuals are:
- Nursing mothers
- Pregnant women
- People with food allergies
- Senior citizens
- People with diseases such as cancer
Before deciding to take nutritional supplements, you have to to figure out the appropriate amount you should take daily by checking with your doctor or healthcare provider. Right after consultation, be sure to examine the container label of each nutritional supplement you intend to take at the suggested serving size. Since you already have professional advice, the amount you should consume should be the one that has been prescribed for you.
Risk and Safety
Several nutritional supplements include ingredients that have potent effects on the body. When taking a supplement, especially a new supplement, always be on the lookout for any unanticipated side effects.
Supplements are likely to have side effects when individuals take them as an alternative to prescribed medicine. It is also advisable that you check with your doctor if the supplements you intend to take won’t cause problems while taking them with your prescribed drugs.
Take note that ingredients in nutritional supplements are now added to various food items. Examples of these are cereals, biscuits and beverages. You may not notice it, but you’re already getting more than the supplement you need. Consuming more than the needed dosage can lead to side effects, e.g. excessive vitamin A causes liver damage and headaches, while too much iron may harm your organs.
If you are currently pregnant or a nursing mother, you also have to be extra cautious when taking supplements,. You also have to be careful about giving basic multivitamins or minerals to a young child as most of them have not been tested on children.
There is scientific evidence that shows some dietary supplements are beneficial for managing health conditions and for the overall health of an individual. An example of this is Nature’s Bounty calcium and vitamin D supplements that help keep bones strong and reduce bone loss.
But you have to remember that although supplements are designed to help you get the right amount of essential nutrients, you still have to eat nutritious food. Nutritional supplements can’t take the place of natural food sources which are vital for health.
Since nutritional supplements are considered complex products, FDA has established good manufacturing practices in order to ensure their identity, strength, composition, and purity.
Quality standards are created to prevent the presence of a wrong ingredient, contamination, the instance of having an excessive or lacking ingredient, and the inappropriate labeling and packaging of nutritional supplement products. The FDA is also responsible for periodically inspecting the manufacturers of dietary supplements.
There are several independent organizations that also offer quality testing. They also allow products which pass the tests to show or display their approval seals. These approval seals give an assurance that the supplement was correctly manufactured. However, these seals don’t always warrant that a supplement is effective or safe.
As stated earlier, nutritional supplements are not created to supplement your diet. They are unlike drugs that are intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure certain diseases. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a national agency that watches over both medicines and nutritional supplements to ensure they don’t harm people who take them.
You may have noticed that many dietary or nutritional supplements carry health-related claims. Manufacturers may say that a supplement addresses a certain nutrient deficiency but they must also state that the product was not evaluated by FDA, and it is not meant to diagnose, prevent, or treat any ailment.
Once the FDA finds a product to be unsafe for humans, actions will be done to confiscate the product and keep it off the market. The FDA also constantly monitors the information on product labels and packaging to ensure that information about each supplement is correct and not in any way misleading.
Appropriate legal actions will be taken by the government against companies that produce and sell supplements with false or deceptive statements about their products.
1. Never take a dietary supplement to treat any illness without consulting your trusted doctor or healthcare provider.
2. Don’t take nutritional supplements in combination with or in place of medications without the advice or approval of your trusted doctor or healthcare provider.
3. If you are about to go through a surgical procedure, check with your healthcare provider if the supplements you are taking won’t affect the procedure.
4. Natural doesn’t mean safe all the time. Remember that a supplement’s safety will depend on its chemical composition, effectiveness, its preparation, and the dosage.
5. Ask yourself these questions first before taking any nutritional supplement:
● How long or when is the proper time to take it?
● What are its health benefits?
● What are the safety risks of this product?
● How much is the right dosage?
If you don’t have the answers to the above questions, it’s best to consult with your doctor or any healthcare provider.
Talk to a Medical Professional
Healthcare providers such as pharmacists, doctors, and dieticians know best which nutritional supplement is good for your health. Communicating with your healthcare provider helps you determine the right supplements to take, and prevents the risk of erroneously taking supplements that may cause harmful side effects.
It also helps to document your intake of supplements. Write down the specific name of the product, the dosage you take, the reason for your intake, and how frequent your intake is.
If you are taking a supplement that really proves to give extra strength for your hair, skin, and nails, listing down its good effects will help you determine which manufacturer provides the best result so that on your next purchase, you can get the same brand. You may bring along the product packaging with you on your next visit to your doctor.
It’s quite easy to believe the promises and claims of nutritional supplement products. But if you suspect that you are experiencing a serious side effect from a dietary supplement, immediately inform your healthcare provider. He or she will be the one to report your experience to the FDA but you may also be required to submit a direct report.
You should also report any unusual reactions you may have to the manufacturing company directly, or through the health shop or pharmacy you purchased the supplement from.
Gehana Kennedy is the owner of vitaminshop.ae, the go-to source for high-quality wellness products including a range of step-by-step formulated vitamins, fitness supplements and natural skin care products. With innovative ideas and implementation of new technologies, she was able to establish a platform that offers not only quality products but also valuable information for customers.