Chaos, uncertainty of actions, and an unbalanced diet comprise today’s daily life. Many try to eat healthy and maintain proper nutrition levels; however, eating healthy has become a dream. Fortunately, dietary supplements can make up the difference between a dietary imbalance and staying healthy. Yet, the world of dietary supplements is confusing and quickly overwhelming. When thinking of starting a new supplement regimen, you should consider its manufacturing processes, how it benefits the body, the general categories of supplements, and what regulations exist for its marketing.
The Institute of Health recognizes four primary definitions of supplements, which include front-label identification as a supplement, oral ingestion, containing at least one dietary ingredient, and labeled use as a supplement for an existing diet. However, supplements have limited regulations for manufacturing process, but multiple manufacturing standards exist to clearly define high quality supplements from poor-quality supplements. Some common identifiers of quality supplements include the following:
- Identification of the supplement ingredients.
- Purity of the supplement, for example, the supplement does not contain harmful chemicals.
- Strength of the supplement, or containing the proper amount of ingredients per dose.
- Composition of the supplement, or including the appropriate ingredients as specified on the label.
- Testing by independent organizations, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International, and ConsumerLab.com.
Benefits to the Body
Dietary supplements provide different benefits to the body. For example, some supplements help increase vitamin levels, which are missing from the diet. Others work to reduce harmful levels of body composition, such as cholesterol, free radicals, and excess glucose. Most opt to begin taking a dietary supplement for one of three reasons: an existing deficiency of a nutrient, to improve performance of the body, or to improve the convenience of attaining a balanced diet when organic fruits and vegetables are unavailable.
Common Categories of Supplements
- Multivitamins – These supplements routinely contain up to 10 different dietary vitamins and minerals. Often, they are used to correct deficiencies in the diet.
- Green Powders – These supplements contain the nutrients of vegetables in a drink form. Some may add them to foods when cooking to improve their dietary balance.
- Fish Oils – Fish oil is commonly used to lower the levels of unhealthy cholesterol.
- Vitamin D & Calcium – Vitamin D is commonly found in combination with calcium in dietary supplements. This supplement is used when enough sunlight, or vitamin D milk, is not obtained.
- Proteins Supplements – These supplements are commonly used to enhance physical stamina when performing exercise, or other vigorous activities.
- Herbal Supplements – Depending on the condition, herbal supplements may be used to treat erectile dysfunction, acne, or other medical conditions. Some supplements have been used to improve physical appearance as well.
FDA Regulations For Supplements
The FDA does not have the duty of approving supplements for safety; however, the FDA does impose some regulations for how it is marketed. For example, a supplement must also disclose it has not been approved by the FDA, nor may it claim it has been approved by the FDA.
Dietary supplements can help repair the body and a poor diet; however, care must always be taken when starting a new supplement regimen. Some medications may interact with supplements, so you should speak with your physician before taking supplements if you are currently taking prescription medications.