Understanding Health Supplements

March 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Nutrition and Supplements

The Nature of Health Supplements

The body needs a steady amount of vitamins and minerals to keep it functioning well. Taking health supplements is not a food substitute for your daily dose of fruits and vegetables. Rather, health supplements are mere complements to your diet. It is especially needed when your body has some trouble maintaining enough micronutrients for its use. Thus, nutritional supplements cannot substitute for the nutrients found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables.

Best Source of Nutrition

Even as the market is teeming with a wide variety of nutritional supplements, whole foods still remain to be the best source of nutrition. Whole foods have advantages over nutritional supplements because they are great sources of complex micronutrients. They also provide the much needed dietary fibers essential in the prevention of diseases and management of constipation. Whole foods also have an abundance of phytochemicals and antioxidants which are substances known to protect you from cancer, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cell damage.

Do You Need Health Supplements?

If you eat a balanced diet composed of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, fish, and legumes, you are not likely to need nutritional supplements. But if a healthy diet is not really on top of your list, you may need to take nutritional supplements on a daily basis to make up for the nutrients you lack. If you are confused on whether or not you need these nutritional supplements, read on to find out who needs them. The people who must take these supplements are:

• Those who have difficulty digesting and absorbing nutrients due to a prior surgery on the digestive tract
• A vegetarian who does not eat diet substitute or complement
• One who is pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or is breast-feeding her child
• Women who experience heavy bleeding during menstruation
• Postmenopausal women
• Those with chronic diarrhea, food intolerance, liver disease, food allergies, gallbladder problems, etc.
• Those who don’t eat regularly or does not consume at least 1,600 calories per day

If you find yourself falling under any of the categories above, then you indeed need to take natural supplements for an improved well-being.

Safe Use of Health Supplements

While most nutritional supplements and prescription drugs may claim to come from natural and herbal sources, it does not necessarily mean that they are safe. There are herbs that can actually be harmful to the body. An example of which is comfrey and kava which cause serious damage the liver. You cannot even solely rely on the manufacturer’s guarantee that the quality or consistency of the product has been certified because manufacturers will always market their products the best way they can.

Herbal diet supplements can have several compounds without the consumers knowing its active ingredients and its overall effects on the body. Worse, considering the government regulations of health supplements, it is likely to happen that what is placed on the label is not actually what is in the bottle. Discrepancies on the label can even include incorrect plant species of the herbal diet supplements and the wrong amount of active ingredient.

In order to ensure the safe use of these supplements, you can pay your medical practitioner a visit. He is the best person to consult regarding the type of supplements you should take as a complement for your diet.