Are you looking for a comprehensive guide on the benefits and side effects of dietary supplements?
This article will provide you with an in-depth look at the benefits and side effects of dietary supplements. It will also provide you with some helpful tips to assist you in choosing the right supplement for your needs.
Do you want to know which supplement is best for your needs? Are you looking for a way to build muscle or lose weight? Do you want to know how to avoid side effects? Do you want to know about the best vitamins and minerals?
If any of these questions resonate with you, then this article is for you!
What are Dietary Supplements?
Dietary supplements are nutrients, vitamins and minerals which are meant to supply an additional amount of nutrients to the body, along with that provided by food. They can be in the form of capsules, tablets, powders, juices etc. Supplements have gained a lot of eminence in current times, because of deteriorating food quality and less time to cook and eat. But can supplements replace a diet? Or How effective are dietary supplements? are some of the most common questions asked by individuals nowadays.
They can be derived from natural foods as well as from synthetic products. Even there are fortified foods available in markets now, which are incorporated with nutrients which are normally lacking in natural foods, such as fortified cereals, fortified milk and milk products, etc.
But like any other thing, supplements have their own positives and negatives. Improper usage, or over or under usage of dietary supplements can lead to undesirable results. To better understand the particulars, it is essential to know the important dietary supplements.
Most Effective Dietary Supplements:
1. Protein & Amino Acid Dietary Supplements
There are different kinds of protein supplements available in the market which include whey, soy, casein, pea, blend protein etc. These are beneficial to the body as they help in gaining muscles; strength; promote weight gain or weight loss (accompanied by respective diets); improve immunity, recovery process of the body, quality of skin and hair; transport and store various nutrients, etc.
Whereas amino acids are building blocks of proteins and adding amino acid dietary supplements help in faster muscle recovery, lesser muscle wasting etc.
2. Essential Mineral Supplements
The human body requires a range of minerals to function at its best, and maintaining proper levels of these nutrients in the bloodstream is crucial. Mineral supplements can provide a convenient and effective way to support your overall health and well-being.
(i) Iron Supplements: Vital for Energy and Immunity
Iron is essential for maintaining healthy haemoglobin levels, enhancing muscle strength, promoting concentration and focus, and reducing fatigue. Low iron levels can lead to iron-deficiency anaemia, a serious and common condition that causes extreme fatigue, weakness, and susceptibility to infections. Women are especially vulnerable to iron deficiency due to factors such as menstruation and pregnancy, making iron supplements a crucial addition to their daily routine.
(ii) Calcium Supplements: Keep Your Bones and Teeth Strong
Calcium is another essential mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining strong bones and teeth, supporting proper heartbeat and muscle contractions, and aiding in weight loss. Low blood calcium levels can lead to weak bones, tooth decay, and other health complications. Regular calcium supplementation can help prevent these issues and support overall health.
(iii) Zinc Supplements: Boost Your Immune System and Memory
Zinc is crucial for a strong immune system, healthy memory, and sensory functions such as taste. It can also be effective in treating various medical conditions, including low sperm count and male infertility. Additionally, zinc is known to increase testosterone levels, making it an important supplement for men’s health.
(iv) Chromium Supplements: Promote Metabolism and Weight Loss
Chromium is known for its ability to promote metabolism, muscle growth, and weight loss, while also supporting insulin sensitivity. Incorporating chromium supplements into your daily routine can help you achieve your weight loss goals and improve overall health.
(v) Iodine Supplements: Support Thyroid Function and Brain Development
Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism and support healthy weight loss. Iodine also plays a critical role in brain development, making it an important supplement for all ages.
(vi) Potassium Supplements: Regulate Muscle Function and Fluid Balance
Potassium is crucial for regulating muscle contractions and fluid balance in the body. It can help prevent hypertension, support weight loss, and promote overall health and well-being.
Explore the range of best mineral supplements recommended by Nutrition experts.
Various vitamins and minerals are crucial for the growth, development, and optimal performance of the human body. Proper intake of these essential nutrients can prevent a range of diseases and health issues. The following supplements are particularly important:
(i) Folate (Vitamin B9) Supplements
Folate promotes the production and maintenance of new cells in the body. Adequate levels in the blood can prevent cancer and anaemia. A study by Zhang et al. (2020) found that folate supplementation can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in adults.
Vitamin D contributes to healthy bones and teeth, prevents body pain, and protects against various diseases. Deficiency can lead to underutilization of calcium, even if you take calcium supplements. Most Indians are prone to Vitamin D deficiency due to limited exposure to sunlight and few available food sources. A study by Khandelwal et al. (2019) showed that Vitamin D supplementation can improve bone mineral density in Indian women with osteoporosis.
(iii) Vitamin B12 Supplements
Vitamin B12 is often deficient in Indians, particularly vegetarians, as it is primarily found in non-vegetarian foods. Vitamin B12 is responsible for proper DNA function and a healthy nervous system. A meta-analysis by Garg et al. (2018) demonstrated that Vitamin B12 supplementation can improve cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
(iv) Biotin Supplements
Biotin (vitamin H or B7) is necessary for the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is also crucial for healthy skin and hair. A randomised controlled trial by Trüeb et al. (2019) found that biotin supplementation can improve hair quality and reduce hair loss in women with thinning hair.
(v) Vitamin E & C Supplements
Vitamin E helps with skin disorders, respiratory infections, and prevents allergies. Vitamin C assists in collagen formation, wound healing, and repair. A study by Yiu et al. (2021) showed that Vitamin E and C supplementation can improve immune function in elderly individuals.
(vi) Vitamin K Supplements
Vitamin K helps with blood clotting. A systematic review by Shearer et al. (2020) concluded that Vitamin K supplementation can improve bone health and reduce the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women.
(v) Vitamin A Supplements
Vitamin A is essential for good vision. A randomised controlled trial by Chao et al. (2018) found that Vitamin A supplementation can improve visual function in children with low serum retinol levels.
Explore the Best Multivitamins Supplements recommended by Nutrition experts.
4. Fatty Acids- Omega 3, 6 and 9 Supplements
Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids are essential nutrients for human health. They play a vital role in maintaining a healthy heart, a healthy pregnancy, and immune function. Studies have shown that these fatty acids also support healthy skin and hair, and can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Furthermore, research suggests that Omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial for post-workout muscle recovery and athletic performance. 1
5. Carbohydrate Supplements
Carbohydrate supplements can be useful for athletes and fitness enthusiasts who need to meet their daily carbohydrate requirements. These supplements can provide a quick and convenient source of energy to support physical activity and aid in recovery after exercise. 2
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can have beneficial effects on human health. They work by activating healthy bacteria in the body, which can reduce the risk of allergies, prevent diarrhoea, and support healthy skin. Research has also suggested that probiotics may have a positive impact on mental health and cognitive function. 3
- Other supplements, such as Glucosamine, Arginine, Spirulina, Coenzyme Q10, and Ginseng, have been shown to offer potential health benefits.
- Glucosamine may be beneficial for joint pain 4, while Arginine can help to stimulate nitric oxide production in the body (Bayat et al., 2019).
- Spirulina is a high-protein supplement that may offer a range of benefits, including improved immune function. 5
- Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that can help to protect cells from oxidative stress 6, while Ginseng may improve strength and immune function 7
Most Common Side effects of Nutritional Supplements and their Prevention
1. Toxicity Due to High Intake
One of the most critical aspects to consider while taking any dietary supplement is its dosage. Intake of a dietary supplement in very high dosage for a long period of time might cause toxicity, as the respective parameter might already have been on a higher side even before you started taking the supplement 8
2. Unnecessary Interactions With Foods
Adding unnecessary dietary supplements can lead to interactions with other foods, supplements, and nutrients in the body.
- For instance, ginseng has a hypoglycemic effect in diabetic patients and may cause extremely low blood sugar levels in patients who are either on diabetes medication or insulin 9
- Similarly, the antioxidants (polyphenols) present in green tea or green tea capsules prevent the absorption of iron in the body. Long term usage reduces haemoglobin levels 10
- Vitamin K supplements or foods interact with the blood thinner drugs, such as Acitrom, Warfarin, etc., and impede their effect 11
- Protein-rich supplements and foods interact with the medicines of Parkinson’s diseases, like Syndopa, Levodopa, etc. Hence proteins should be avoided 3-4 hours before and after these medicines 12
3. A Bad Chain Reaction
It is essential to understand that too many supplements, if consumed together, might react with each other and have a bad effect or might simply have a reduced effect. Therefore, it is necessary to consult a physician or a nutritionist to determine the right combination of supplements for your needs.
4. Preservative Contains that Can be Harmful
Most dietary supplements contain ingredients other than what you plan to take. These ingredients might be preservatives, shells of capsules, etc.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep a check on these ingredients and ensure that they are not present in excessive quantities or harmful to health. Even most herbal supplements too consist of such constituents 13
Dietary Supplements Usage: What you should know
It is very essential to get your body checkup done, in order to identify the blood parameters which are low and need to be supplemented.
But some supplements, such as multivitamins and multiminerals with low concentration of all nutrients, omega 3, 6, 9 capsules, probiotics, biotin, collagen (a kind of protein good for hair and skin), plant proteins etc, can be consumed safely for limited duration, even if you don’t get a check-up done (provided you don’t have any medical condition).
However, when it comes to protein, there are tests to investigate body protein levels (such as Serum Albumin, Globulin, Total protein etc) and to be on the safer side you can get them checked. But it is not always compulsory to examine them if you have healthy kidneys. All that is required is to have the recommended intake of protein (rather than exceeding it) under expert supervision, as they can very well identify your protein requirement as per your credentials. If required, they’ll ask you to get the parameters checked.
Always keep in mind, your LFT (Liver function test) and KFT (Kidney function test) have to be completely normal with no history of kidney diseases, to add a protein or amino acid dietary supplement. If there has been such a condition, you should always consult a doctor or a nutrition expert.
Another very important point to note here is, specific nutrients when paired are better utilised or absorbed by the body, such as:
- Vitamin D works well with Calcium Supplements as it is very essential to absorb calcium.
- Vitamin C helps in better absorption of iron from plant sources.
- Complete and incomplete proteins coupled together form a good quality protein and are beneficial to the body.
- Fat-soluble vitamins consumed with fats are better absorbed.
So, after discussing the benefits and drawbacks of dietary supplements, we can conclude that they can be very advantageous for your health, as long as you consume them for the right reasons and in the appropriate amounts.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that supplements should not replace a healthy diet. Instead, they should complement it, filling in any nutritional gaps that your regular diet may have. For example, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you may need to take vitamin B12 supplements to avoid a deficiency. Similarly, if you don’t get enough sun exposure, you may need to take vitamin D supplements to maintain healthy bones and prevent diseases.
However, it’s crucial to note that excessive usage of supplements without proper understanding of your individual requirements can have adverse effects. For instance, consuming too much vitamin A can cause toxicity, leading to symptoms like nausea, dizziness, and even liver damage.
That’s why it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before starting any supplement regimen. They can help you determine the right type of supplement, dosage, and duration based on your unique needs and health status.
What are 5 questions to ask when considering taking dietary supplements?
Five Questions To Ask When Considering Health Supplements
Has the product triggered any health warnings or sanctions?
Has the product been tested by independent labs?
Is the product too good to be true?
Is there evidence that the supplement does what it promises?
Do I really need supplements?
What are 4 things you should consider when choosing a dietary supplement?
4 Things to Consider When Buying Nutritional Supplements
Review the Ingredients.
Evaluate the Brand’s Reputation.
Be Critical of Information Online.
Compare Your Options.
What are the side effects of dietary supplements?
Rashes, shortness of breath, diarrhea, severe joint or muscle pain, slurred speech and blood in the urine are other possible adverse events that can result from supplement use, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These symptoms can vary from less serious to life-threatening.
Do dietary supplements have risks and side effects?
Safety and Risk
You are most likely to have side effects from dietary supplements if you take them at high doses or instead of prescribed medicines, or if you take many different supplements. Some supplements can increase the risk of bleeding or, if taken before surgery, can change your response to anesthesia.
What is the best time to take dietary supplements?
“Digestion slows down during sleep, so taking your nutrient supplement late at night would not be associated with an efficient absorption.” Neil Levin, a clinical nutritionist at NOW Foods, agrees that morning is best for multivitamins and any B vitamins.
What is the main purpose of dietary supplements?
Dietary supplements are substances you might use to add nutrients to your diet or to lower your risk of health problems such as osteoporosis or arthritis. Dietary supplements come in the form of pills, capsules, powders, gel capsules and tablets, extracts, or liquids.
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