Dietary Supplements: What Are They?

Honestly speaking, it is quite challenging for most of us to eat the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily. No matter how hard we try to consume a balanced diet, we tend to fall short of the suggested amount of nutrients per day. That’s why many take dietary supplements as part of their daily routine to keep fit and healthy.

Dietary supplements may contain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, and many other ingredients. They can come as capsules, tablets, drinks, powder, and even energy bars.

Facts and Benefits of Dietary Supplements

Many people take dietary supplements to get the recommended nutrients they missed out on from their diet. Supplements can be taken advantage of to fill in nutritional gaps in your diet. They might be even more beneficial for specific groups of people who require higher amounts of certain nutrients. This includes menopausal women, pregnant women, vegetarians, vegans, and those with food allergies.

Although supplements have their benefits, they shouldn’t be taken to replace complete meals. Hence, you still need to eat healthy foods as much as you can for your own good. Furthermore, unlike drugs, supplements should not claim to diagnose, treat, or prevent diseases.

Does Taking Supplements Have Any Risks?

The answer is yes. Most supplements are made up of active ingredients, which tend to have a strong biological impact on the body. This means taking supplements might be unsafe in some specific situations and might complicate or hurt your health.

For example, the following scenarios could lead to serious health problems:

  • Combining different types of supplements;
  • Taking supplements with medicines;
  • Substituting dietary supplements for your prescription medicines;
  • Taking too many supplements such as vitamin D, vitamin A, iron;

5 Tips you Should Follow

Dietary supplements usually are available even without a prescription. However, it would help if you consult your doctor before taking any supplements for safety purposes. Here are some tips you should follow in case you are considering consuming dietary supplements:

Follow The Recommended Dosage

It is vital to follow the dosage that has been suggested by your doctor or printed on the label when taking supplements as daily intake can vary. Dietary supplements give you the additional nutrients you are already getting from the foods you eat daily. In connection to this, there is no real health advantage in consuming more of a certain vitamin or mineral than you need.

In fact, absorbing too much of a particular vitamin or mineral can cause some side effects. This includes diarrhoea or vomiting. In some cases, it might lead to serious health problems such as liver damage. Moreover, it would help if you are more cautious when it comes to the following supplements:

  • Iron

Iron is an essential mineral. It helps carry oxygen to the tissues. Furthermore, iron is also vital in maintaining brain and muscle function and the immune system.

However, taking more iron than recommended can help develop toxic levels in the liver and heart. It can also cause symptoms from joint pain and fatigue to depression and sexual impotence. Besides that, iron overload can damage your organs or lead you to a coma or even death.

  • Vitamins A, D, and E

Vitamins A, D, and E are fat-soluble vitamins. This means your body will store the surplus in your fat tissue and liver. Water-soluble vitamins can pass through your body with minimal side effects. On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins can develop toxic levels over time.

Take As Directed

Taking your supplements as directed is not as simple as reading the recommended dosage. It is also essential to pay careful attention to all of your prescriptions and other medications. This is to know how any supplement could interact with the foods you eat or the current medication you take.

Read and Understand the Labels

It would be best to do your research when it comes to considering dietary supplement consumption. This includes reading the labels carefully and understanding them since they can be confusing at times. Moreover, it is vital to know that supplements are required to have the appropriate nutrition and ingredient labelling.

Many products claim to have unrealistic benefits and results. Also, when people see the words “organic” or “natural,” they tend to automatically assume that it comes with no side effects. That’s why it is vital to read all product labels and watch out for false claims.

Never Substitute for Food

Dietary supplements are called supplements for a reason. As mentioned earlier, they are only meant to supplement and not replace any real food. Hence, it is still best to maintain a well-balanced diet in your daily routine.

Properly Store Supplements and Other Medicines

Storing your supplements and other medicines can help prevent any accidental ingestions. Always make sure to put them away from your child’s sight and reach. Moreover, always put your supplements and medicines back where you stored them after every use.


Dietary supplements should not be taken to replace a well-balanced diet. There’s no substitute for eating properly. Furthermore, when taking them, it would be best to consult your healthcare provider. This is to ensure you are not susceptible to the risks dietary supplements may carry.

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