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Health Benefits Of Food Supplements

With our modern lifestyle that is rather fast paced and high strung it can be extremely difficult to follow a healthy diet and eating habits. Most of our population today is distributed in urban areas, and the quality of food can be questionable and there are also often problems of contamination. Despite the obstacles it’s important to make healthy food choices. Instead of snacking on unhealthy junk foods, try and indulge in some simple fresh vegetable and fruit salads. Food supplements offer health benefits for anyone on restrictive diets for weight loss, as it helps to ensure that you receive adequate nutrition without the calories.

A food supplement is a preparation that is meant to supplement your diet, providing your body with a variety of nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, fiber, fatty acids or amino acids, depending on your specific needs.

This makes them particularly useful when your diet does not provide you with adequate nutrition. They enhance the nutritional value of your diet, but they are not meant to be a substitute for healthy food. Part of the problem today or the negative perception of food supplements stems from this tendency in our fast paced society to take the easy way out. It has become increasingly common to take food supplements for their health benefits, as vitamins and minerals are essential micronutrients and they serve very specific purposes.

Few nutritional benefits are:

  • Eye: Calcium for example is essential for skeletal health, while vitamin A is essential for healthy vision.
  • Immunity: Vitamin E strengthens your immunity and also helps repair DNA, while iron and manganese are both essential for healthy blood production. It is therefore adequately clear that vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients for our health, but while supplementation can help, food supplements are no substitute for a healthy diet and the nutrients absorbed from fresh fruits and vegetables. Supplementation can however help compensate for any dietary deficiencies. Food supplements can serve a more specific purpose as certain nutrients are particularly important to specific groups of people, such as diabetics, asthmatics, patients suffering from arthritis, or even for athletes, children or the aged.
  • Pregnant Women: Because of the distinctive nutritional requirements typical to some groups you could classify food supplement recommendations into some general categories. For specific dosages however, you need to check with your health care provider. Food supplements for pregnant women typically include calcium and iron, and this also applies to most women of childbearing age.
  • Athletes: Creatine and amino acids or protein supplements are among the commonly used food supplements for athletes and body builders.
  • Weight Gain: Food supplements for weight gain are also often taken by individuals who wish to develop muscle bulk, but are underweight.
  • Lactose Intolerance: People with eating disorders like lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance may also suffer from various dietary deficiencies and are advised to consume food supplements.
  • Diabetes: Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are also a common problem for diabetics and diet plays a very important role in the treatment of diabetes. In addition to your diet however, supplements with vitamin C, D, and the B12 vitamins, as well as minerals like potassium are among the commonly prescribed food supplements for diabetes.
  • Kidney Disorders: These problems can also lead to or may be aggravated by nutritional imbalances, which is why your diet and fluid intake is important when dealing with any type of kidney disease. You also need to exercise a great deal of caution when taking any supplements for the kidneys, as certain minerals from supplements like calcium could contribute to the formation of kidney stones, if not taken in the correct dosage, or with the correct diet. Certain food supplements are recommended, but you need to first check with your health care provider, as the food supplements required for kidneys will differ from individual to individual, depending on the specific condition and also on your nutritional requirements.
  • Cancer And Depression: Although rather unconventional the use of food supplements for cancer and depression has also become common place, because of the severe effects of nutritional deficiencies on these groups.
  • Vegetarian Diet: Food supplements are also a boon to those on exclusively vegetarian diets. While a vegetarian diet can be extremely healthy, individuals who are strictly vegetarian do tend to suffer from certain dietary deficiencies, and the consumption of green food nutritional supplements can help to offset the imbalances. While most of us may look for food supplements with no calories, high calorie food supplements are also quite popular among those looking to gain weight or for those with high energy requirements.
  • For Body builders and Athletes: They are typically extremely health conscious, but despite their healthy diets, they also rely on nutritious food supplements to meet their high nutrition requirements. Whey protein and amino acid supplements are particularly popular among body builders.
When we talk about food supplements, we usually refer to vitamin and mineral supplements, but herbal supplements are also an important category. Herbal supplements may however not be classified as food supplements, because strictly speaking they are consumed for their medicinal and therapeutic value rather than for the nutritional value.

Effects Of Food Supplements

The main problem of food supplements side effects pertains to the misuse of these supplements. Food supplements have great therapeutic value and offer significant health benefits, but when consumed without proper adherence to guidelines food supplements side effects can be quite severe. While most of us are aware of the risks posed from herbal supplements because of possible interactions with drugs, and also because of the levels of toxicity and allergic reactions, most food supplements like those containing essential nutrients are regarded as being safe. This however isn’t entirely true as there are no truly safe supplements that can be consumed without caution. It is possible to suffer from overdoses of vitamins and minerals, and the side effects can be quite severe, as the recommended dosage varies from individual to individual and may also depend on prevalent health conditions.
  • Asthmatics for example may be allergic to higher dosages of vitamin C.
  • Supplements like creatine can also cause kidney failure in individuals who have a family history of diabetes, hypertension or kidney stones.
  • An excessive intake of vitamin D and iron can also cause kidney damage, while an excess of vitamin A may result in headaches and nausea, and could also cause diarrhea or liver damage. If you wish to take food supplements without adverse effects on your health, it would be best to consult a nutritionist and your doctor for the recommended dosage and related advice.
Submitted on January 16, 2014