Dietary supplements – some important things that you need to know

Health food stores are being frequented by large numbers of people and the experience can be quite overwhelming. It might be quite confusing to choose from the wide array of products available in the market in the form of nutritional and dietary supplements.

Right from minerals to vitamin supplements, from weight loss pills to pre and post work-out supplements – the market is flooded with all kinds of supplements and nutritional food items. However, there are hundreds of questions which come to the mind when it comes to these supplements. Do we really need any of these supplements? Do these supplements really work? How do we know which supplements are the best for us? And so many other questions.

It is needless to say that the dietary supplements industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Vitamin supplements are the highest in demands followed by other kinds of nutritional supplements. 

Regulation of dietary food supplements

If you thought that manufacturing dietary food supplements was an easy job, you are highly mistaken. Lots of processing is involved in the making of these supplements. The FDA regulates dietary supplements in the way it does for foods, but some changes have been brought about in the same. As per the new rules and practices of FDA, it is ensured that the supplements are manufactured in the highest quality manner.

They should not contain any kinds of impurities or contaminants. And most importantly, they should be accurately labelled. Experts in the field opine that making dietary supplements is very different from making cereals. Effectiveness and safety of the supplements have to be guaranteed by the manufacturing company.

The main aim of these supplements is to aid the diet in the best way possible and compensate for the deficiencies in the diet. These supplements have to contain one or more ingredients like amino acids, herbs, vitamins and other kinds of constituents. The items should be labeled as dietary supplements and are to be taken by mouth only.

The supplements are available in varying forms – as tablets, capsules, soft gels, powders, drops, shots etc. Choose the form which seems most suitable for your needs.

Who are in need of dietary supplements?

Many people start taking dietary supplements without understanding whether they need the supplement at all or not. One has to remember that dietary supplements are needed for supplementing the diet and not as an alternative to nutritious foods. Supplements can compensate for the shortfalls in the diet, but they can never replace the value of a good and healthy diet.

Foods that we take contain vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, phytochemicals and other nutritious substances. All these components work together for a healthy mind and a healthy body. However, some people might not be getting the adequate amount of nutrients from the foods and will need external support in the form of dietary supplements. Senior citizens, pregnant and nursing women or ailing people need supplements so that proper balance of nutrients is maintained in the body.

Are supplements tested and free from side effects?

These are the two most important questions which should be asked by anyone who is intending to start taking supplements. It is quite interesting to see that majority of the manufacturers don’t need to test their products for safety and effectiveness. This is because in most of the cases, the ingredients which are used in making the supplements have been tested in human and animal studies. However, some of the ingredients are not tested and these might raise questions.

Whether the dietary supplement company sells whey protein isolate or activated charcoal capsules or other kinds of supplements and health products, they claim that the products are absolutely safe and have no fear of any kinds of side effects. Some of the manufacturers are smart enough and they suggest consultation from a doctor before starting to take the supplements.

It is also recommended to stay safe from overdosing on dietary supplements. Some cases of overdoses might be quite dangerous and should be avoided in all ways. Some supplements have the tendency of building up in the system and can be quite difficult to deal with. Do some study and research, consult a doctor and then start on a supplement.