Food supplements, as the name suggests are added tablets whose purpose is to provide nutrients to the body that are otherwise lacking due to improper diet.
It is important to note that a diet should have sufficient nutrients but in case, the recommended amount is not consumed, one can take supplements.
Food supplements come in various forms like tablets, pills, syrups, energy bars as well as a powder, which deliver the nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and enzymes.
Supplements cannot replace a balanced diet and cannot give you all the nutrients that a balanced diet can.
Our body needs only a recommended amount of nutrients every day and if we consume more than the body can handle it can do more harm than good and can even lead to major health conditions.
Benefits of food supplements
People can benefit from food supplements, some of those benefits are:
- Give you proper nutrition that might be lacking due to improper diet
- Many supplements are filled with antioxidants that can reduce the risk of certain diseases like heart disease and certain cancers
- Helps maintain good health
- Supplements can be consumed by athletes to enhance their performance
- It can help you improve cognitive functions
- Increase the efficiency of the immune system
- Some supplements can help improve the quality of sleep
- It can provide added nutrition for pregnant women
Who can take supplements?
If you are a healthy person consuming a balanced diet and you are getting the recommended amount of nutrients, you do not need dietary supplements.
If you fall under any of the following categories you should consult your doctor and discuss a plan for food supplements. The categories are:
- Women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant
- Women who are breastfeeding
- Over the age of 50
- Diagnosed with certain deficiencies
- Vegan or vegetarian
- Recently had treatment for obesity
- Restricted from access to certain food items
- Children under the age of 5
- Insufficient sun exposure
How many supplements should you take?
There is a limited amount of nutrients that you need in your body. If you exceed that limit the body flushes out the excess nutrients and in some cases, it can even result in health conditions like nausea, stomach cramps, hair loss, fatigue, diarrhoea and even mild nerve damage.
Risks of excess supplements
You should always consult a doctor before you start taking any supplements because excess nutrients can harm you. Some side effects are:
- Taking vitamin K before surgery can reduce the efficiency of blood thinners causing blood to clot
- Can reduce the effectiveness of certain medicines
- Too many antioxidants can reduce the efficacy of chemotherapy
- Substituting supplements in place of medicines can harm the body
- Vitamin B-6 can lead to nerve damage when used for more than a year at high doses
- Combining vitamin A with retinol-based acne medications can lead to an excess vitamin A
- Excess Vitamin C can cause diarrhoea
How to take supplements properly?
- Consult a doctor
- Follow instructions given either by the manufacturer or the doctor
- Take the right supplements for your body
- Be careful if you are on prior medications