Use of Supplements: How Beneficial is it for your body?August 15, 2022
With the dietary supplements’ arrival in the early 20th century, their use bloomed among the population for several reasons, from desiring to improve and maintain health to trying to prevent certain diseases and boost immunity.
According to a 2021 survey by Council for Responsible Nutrition, 80% of Americans use dietary supplements.
Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, amino acids, botanicals, and many other ingredients sourced from natural animal or plant products or prepared synthetically to supplement our diets lacking vital nutrients.
Do Supplements Work?
Dietary supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, gummies, powder, and drinks and enhance overall health:
- Promote better physical performance: The use of dietary supplements is common among athletes to maintain physical strength and endurance. Creatine helps them increase muscle mass mass and strength. Calcium and vitamin D are taken to build and sustain bone strength. Coenzyme Q10 reduces fatigue and boosts physical activity. Females athletes are recommended to take adequate levels of iron to conserve energy reserves and endurance.
- Improve overall mental health: Supplements including vitamin B, C, and D help reduce depression and anxiety, uplift mood, improve your memory, prevent cognitive decline, and improve overall brain function. Zinc and magnesium together help fight off depression. Omega-3 fatty acid also improves mood. Saffron, a herbal dietary supplement, increases serotonin levels, lessening symptoms of depression.
- Maintain healthy digestion and elimination: Supplements containing digestive enzymes like amylases, proteases, and lipases aid in the optimal breakdown of food. Prebiotics and probiotics are taken to minimize bloating and gas by promoting the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Glutamine and slippery elm extract prevent abdominal discomfort. Ginger root eases the overall digestion process and curbs inflammation.
- Boost immunity: Vitamin C supplements are taken for their antioxidant properties and ability to promote the growth and repair of tissues. Viral and bacterial infections can be fought off with the help of vitamin D. Zinc supplements aid in the maturation of white blood cells important in the second line of defense of the body’s immune system. Probiotics were also found to prevent upper respiratory tract infections.
- Reduce the risk of chronic diseases: Potassium and magnesium supplements help decrease the risk for hypertension. Coenzyme Q protects against heart attack. SAM-e, Indian frankincense, and turmeric help alleviate joint pain and promote cartilage growth in arthritis. American ginseng helps manage symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Supplements are not always worth it, however. FDA’s regulatory criteria are not as stringent for dietary supplements as it is for drugs, due to which supplements may be available in the market without having proven their effectiveness.
Some of the risks posed by them include:
- Antidepressants, birth control pills, and heart medications are often interfered with by St. John’s wort, a botanical supplement, rendering them less effective.
- Vitamin K supplement hampers the effectiveness of blood thinners, whereas vitamin E soars their efficacy.
- High doses of vitamin B6 can lead to nerve damage and minimize the potency of anti-seizure drugs.
- In conjunction with acne medications, vitamin A can be toxic.
- Diarrhea is a result of higher than required doses of vitamin C.
- Calcium and iron can also mitigate the efficacy of antibiotics, tetracyclines, and fluoroquinolones.
It is, therefore, recommended to seek advice from healthcare experts before opting for them.
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Supplements are an effective way to meet the nutritional requirements and health benefits your diet fails to provide, but the right choice would be to consult a healthcare provider to find the right supplements and correct doses for you.