A Beginners Guide to Dietary Supplements

Research shows that more than a half of the American adult population uses some kind of dietary supplement regularly. The most common ones are multivitamins, or minerals like iron and calcium. We have all at least heard about them, but how many can say that they know what exactly is in that bottle? With thousands of different products and a lot of misleading information swirling around, how to select the right one?

What exactly is a dietary supplement?

Dietary supplements are products which and are taken by mouth and contain dietary ingredients. They can take a variety of forms such as tablet, pill, capsule, liquid or powder. The regulation of dietary supplements treats them as food, not medicine. This means these products don’t treat illness or cure disease.
 
If such claims are made, they should be taken with caution, as all other exaggerated statements that sound too good to be true. Note that manufacturers don’t have to test their products for safety or effectiveness. Some minimum standards of quality apply though, and the product has to be properly labeled. Supplements usually contain enzymes, minerals, vitamins, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, and other dietary ingredients.

Why should I give it a try?

The purpose of a supplement is to provide the dietary intake of essential nutrients which are otherwise not consumed in sufficient quantities.  Most people eat caloric food and disregard the importance of vital nutrients. Thus, supplements can improve your overall health, and reduce the risk of certain medical conditions. You are adding something little extra to your healthy diet and lifestyle.

What are the risks?

You can buy supplements without a prescription in a local pharmacy or order them online. Yet, that doesn’t mean they are risk-free. You should consult your doctor or pharmacist before purchasing any supplement, especially if you are pregnant or nursing, or have a chronic medical condition such as high blood pressure. The internet is also a valuable source of information, and here are some tips how to find the valid guidance.

What is the right way to use supplements?

Mind that even the all-natural supplements are not completely safe and can harm your health. The active ingredients can have strong biological side effects on your body. If you are mixing supplements with medicines, or using several supplements in combination, you are walking on thin ice. Taking too much of one nutrient can also be toxic and cause many problems, so don’t take a bigger dose than recommended.
 
Many people use supplements for maintaining the prime physical fitness.  Remember that the most important thing is to work hard and use a suitable training program. Reach a fine nutrient balance, and only then you can use sports supplements to achieve your goals.

Safety first

Used with caution, supplements can benefit your health and improve the quality of your life.  Always keep in mind that supplements don’t replace the variety of healthy food which is crucial for a successful diet. You need to make informed decisions, so don’t fall for false promises and miracle cures.  Stick to those supplements supported by science, not the ones seen in flashy commercials.
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