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Definition of dietary supplements

Dietary supplements are the additional source of natural, semisynthetic, and synthetic products that are taken along with the daily diet to prevent diseases, deficiencies, stabilize health or enhance performance {1}.

These supplements contain substances already present in your diet but with higher concentrations, often with high doses.

A single product ingredient section may include one or more dietary components, such as vitamins, amino acids, minerals, enzymes, herbs, probiotics, etc. {2}.

You may find them in different forms in stores such as capsules, tablets, liquid solutions, syrups, powders, etc. And are mostly taken orally.

During these covid19 pandemic times, consumption of many Dietary supplements has increased in the hope that these products might protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection, supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc are used to enhance immune functions {3}.

For some, they take dietary supplements to prevent, cure diseases or deficiencies, but others use them to enhance their performance. As per law, these supplements are not allowed to be marketed as treatment, cure, or prevention for any disease. Only the drug can legally make such a claim.

Types of dietary supplements

Natural – These types of products are directly obtained and extracted from Plants,  Animals tissues, or from inorganic sources such as Seawater and Rocks.

Semi-synthetic – These are made from natural or organic sources then Changed chemically in order to increase their efficiency, but the majority of essential components remain unchanged.

Synthetic – These are entirely produced from artificial sources. Some sections of people don’t like this type as there can be certain chemicals or compounds that might have adverse effects and are not thoroughly investigated by regulatory authorities.

Main Reasons people use dietary supplements

Primarily to improve and maintain overall health and performance.

During pregnancy, one more life is growing inside. So you need an extra amount of nutrients to fulfill the demands unless a baby is born.

They use specific vitamins and minerals to enhance immune functioning.

As prevention for chronic diseases like osteoporosis, Cardiovascular diseases, Autoimmune diseases, etc

By Athletes to increase muscle mass, enhance performance and improve memory.

List of some commonly used Dietary supplements

 Vitamin C

Also called ascorbic acid as per its chemical composition, It works as a powerful antioxidant and helps to prevent cells from free radical damage.

Our system also needs vitamin C  to build collagen protein which helps in wound healing.

It also stabilizes and boosts our immune system and helps it to work correctly, and protect us from various infections.

It is found in citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables, but if you have a deficiency or you don’t take ample of them, then you can add its supplement to your diet{4}.

Its Dietary supplement is in the form of Ascorbic acid or others like calcium or sodium ascorbate or ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids.

The average daily intake recommended for An Adult is 70-90 mg

Vitamin D

Also named as sunshine vitamin as it’s only a natural precursor.

Its deficiency almost affects 50% of the total world population because of lifestyle change (fewer sports and outdoor activities) and various environmental factors{5}.

It helps in the regulation of calcium and phosphate in the body.

Its deficiency is linked to various autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, osteomalacia, and other chronic diseases.

Its role in reducing various respiratory tract infections and its role in preventing COVID-19 infection.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a daily intake of 400–800 IU or 10–20mg

It’s good to take it in the form of a supplement if you have a deficiency, are above 50 years, or living in cold countries where you don’t get enough sun exposure.

Calcium

It’s one of the minerals that your body needs to perform certain essential functions.

It’s deposited in all our bones and teeth, regulates muscle movements like contraction and relaxation, regulates cardiac functioning, and acts as a blood clotting factor{6}.

The daily recommended amount for adults is 1000mg, and it increases in old age.

Its Dietary Supplement forms such as calcium carbonate and citrate are used widely.

Its supplement forms are widely used in treating and preventing problems such as osteoporosis, osteopenia, high blood pressure, etc.

Multivitamin/mineral (MVM)

It includes a mixture or combination of vitamins, minerals, and sometimes other substances also.

As per the data of many surveys, 30-40% of Americans take MVMs, including young children, and by age 71, more than 40% take MVMs.

Most people take MVMs to increase nutrient intake, chronic disease prevention like age-related macular degeneration, cancer, cardiovascular and diabetes, etc. 

Taking MVMs is more beneficial for Pregnant women. She should get 400mcg of folic acid per day, Iron supplements, etc.

They don’t usually interact with medication, still better to talk with your physician before taking it.

Protein

A dietary supplement that athletes mostly use, fitness Adults striving to build muscle mass, improve recovery after exercise, and enhance performance. 

Increased protein intake is beneficial for increasing strength and muscle development; that is why bodybuilders and athletes use such supplements to acquire high protein intake.

Whey protein contains a greater concentration of essential amino acids(EAAs). Its high-quality protein is rapidly digested, absorbed in the Gastrointestinal system, increases blood Amino acids concentration, and stimulates muscle protein synthesis.

The daily requirement of Daily value for protein is 50 grams.

Safety and Risk of taking Dietary supplements

You can buy them without any prescription as Dietary supplements don’t need any approval from FDA for their efficiency or safety before being sold to the public. 

Most of the products from companies are not checked, and they are not required to share information with FDA regarding the safety and efficacy of their product before being available on a store shelf.

Most of them contain potent ingredients that can have a substantial effect negatively on the body.

Excess of Dietary supplements:

Taking more than what is required per day or taking them instead of prescribed medication, you are most likely at risk of having adverse effects. 

Examples: Excess of vitamins can cause headaches and liver damage. 

Too much iron causes nausea, vomiting, and liver damage.

Using supplements with medications:

Some supplements may interact with the medication you are already taking, which might cause harmful or severe problems.

Taking vitamin K along with warfarin, a blood thinner decreases its anticoagulation properties.

Taking vitamin C and E may decrease the efficiency of ongoing cancer chemotherapy in a patient.

Conclusion 

You can do many things to maintain your health and performance, including consuming a balanced diet and getting enough sleep to maintain your health.

But in the present era, for many people, these things are not possible all the time.

In such situations, many Dietary supplements may help you to maintain your overall health.

Still, it’s better to check your doctor to know if these supplements are safe to use.


“I have the metabolism of a sloth and a body that hates putting on muscles. This curse motivated me to study weight loss and nutrition. I want to share my experiences and knowledge to help you achieve your ideal body.”

— Christian Tanobey

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