Dietary Supplement- What are the Benefits and Risks?

In our fast moving lives, we don’t really pay attention to our diet. It seems a waste of time to devote so much of time in just eating the so called ‘wholesome food’. We skip our breakfast, spend the office hours on several cups of tea and coffee, grab a sandwich for lunch and get packed some richly prepared food for dinner! Doesn’t that sound familiar to all of us? Its really high time we think about the food we eat and the nutrients we get (or not) from them. Its time to ponder upon whether we really need dietary supplements or not?

What is a Dietary Supplement?

Simply put, anything which supplements our dietary needs is a dietary supplement. When we do not get the vital elements like vitamins, minerals, amino acids etc. from the food that we eat, we need to take them separately. The most easy way to have them is in the way of dietary supplements, sometimes called nutritional supplements. They come in the form of pills, capsules, tonics, herbs, gel or anything that can be taken by mouth. They are packed and labeled as dietary supplements.

Are Dietary Supplements Effective?

Many researches have been conducted to find the answer to this very vital question. These researches have proved that some dietary supplements are effective in preventing or treating diseases. For example, folic acid, also known as vitamin B9 or folacin, prevents certain birth defects. Many other vitamins and zinc can slow the progression of the age- related eye disease macular degeneration. Calcium and vitamin D supplements help in preventing and treating bone loss and osteoporosis. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for those having coronary disease. However, more researches are needed in order to establish a firm conclusion about the benefits of dietary supplements.

What are the Risks Involved in Dietary Supplements?

If anyone thinks about replacing regular medication with dietary supplements, s/he must consult with the health care provider before doing so. Although most of the dietary supplements are prepared from natural sources but natural does not always mean safe. For instance, the herbs comfrey and kava can damage the liver. In fact, the term “standardized,” “verified” or “certified” does not necessarily guarantee product quality or consistency.

  • Certain dietary supplements might increase the risk of bleeding or affect the response to anesthesia. So, it is always advisable to consult the doctor or health practitioner before taking dietary supplement prior to any surgery.
  • Most of the dietary supplements have not been tested on pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children. Its essential to take professional consultations before administering any supplement to such people.
  • A herbal supplement may not contain the correct plant species or the correct amount of such ingredients.
Due to the risks involved in taking such supplements, avoiding self diagnose is the best way. Health care provider can only guide about taking a right supplement, especially when they have to be taken with other foods or medicine. Do your nutrition assessment before talking to the health care provider for accurate recommendations about dietary supplements.

Add Comment