Dietary supplements have become popular in the last couple of decades due to their potential to enhance overall health and well-being. By taking dietary supplements, people can bridge the nutritional gap in their daily diet. And although the primary source of nutrients should always be food, certain vitamins, minerals, and other vital compounds may not be adequately supplied through our diet. This is where dietary supplements step in, offering these essential nutrients in concentrated forms to help people maintain optimal health.
1. Promoting nutrient intake
One of the main benefits of dietary supplements is their ability to supplement and enhance our nutritional intake. According to the data collected from National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (NHANES), intake of dietary supplements was associated with increased micronutrient levels as well as decreased inadequacies in subjects.
Many well-reputed pharmaceutical companies strive to produce specific dietary supplements to promote nutrient, especially micronutrient intake. Many people perceive that eating a balanced diet means they consume the recommended amount of nutrients too. But that’s usually not the case.
For example, magnesium deficiency is quite prevalent among Americans despite it being the seventh most abundant element on Earth, according to research by the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. This deficiency can cause many health problems since our bodies require significant amounts of magnesium.
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2. Solving specific health concerns
Dietary supplements are often formulated to target specific health concerns. These supplements offer a customized approach to address individual needs, such as improving joint health, supporting heart function, boosting the immune system, and enhancing cognitive abilities.
A perfect example of this can be seen in the effect of Marine Omega-3 supplementation on cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that Omega-3 supplementation lowers the risk of myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular death. Similarly, probiotic supplements are recommended for people who have gastrointestinal or immune disorders.
So, incorporating supplements into our daily routine can allow us to take charge of our health and target specific areas that require extra support.
3. Enhancing athletic performance
Individuals who engage in sports or other physical activity can use dietary supplements to improve their athletic abilities. These supplements can help users fulfill certain demands of different sports and physical activities. With many options available, including protein powders, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and creatine, it’s important to make an informed choice based on your specific needs and goals.
For instance, protein supplements help with muscle growth and repair and are mainly recommended to athletes competing in strength sports like weightlifting. On the other hand, BCAAs can help reduce muscle fatigue and boost endurance during workouts, which makes them suitable for endurance sports like running, cycling, or swimming.
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It is important to note that although these supplements offer many benefits, you cannot consume them in large quantities. All these supplements are rich in amino acids, so their overconsumption can cause severe health problems. So, consider consulting a professional trainer or a registered dietitian to ensure safe and appropriate usage based on individual needs.
4. Catering to specific lifestyles and dietary choices
Many people today adhere to specific dietary choices, such as vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, or must navigate food allergies or intolerances. Additionally, many diseases like diabetes force people to adopt a specific diet. In these cases, meeting all essential nutrient requirements can prove to be difficult.
For example, research shows that strict vegetarians tend to suffer from B12 deficiency, a vitamin that only comes from dairy and meat sources. To prevent this from happening, doctors prescribe dietary supplements to these individuals. These supplements provide a convenient and reliable way to ensure you get the recommended nutrients.
With the advancement of science, companies have started making supplements free of common allergens like gluten, lactose, and nuts. This makes them more inclusive for people to use.
5. Promoting hair, skin, and nail health
Radiant hair, glowing skin, and strong nails often reflect our well-being. It is no secret that our physical appearance often reflects our internal health. Fortunately, dietary supplements can help us support the health and vitality of our hair, skin, and nails.
Let’s take collagen as an example. Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular due to their ability to improve skin elasticity and minimize the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles. And due to that, many dermatologists highly regard their efficacy and frequently suggest these supplements to their patients.
It is important to note, however, that the optimal results of dietary supplements can only be achieved when they are accompanied by a well-rounded diet and a healthy lifestyle. Thus, you should also ensure a balanced diet, stay adequately hydrated, and maintain good self-care practices to maximise the benefits of these supplements.
It is undeniable that dietary supplements can provide various benefits to support our health. However, it is essential to recognize that supplements should not be viewed as substitutes for a healthy diet. Instead, they should be treated as complementary tools that can aid in meeting our nutritional needs. Therefore, it’s best to consult a physician or a dietitian and get supplements prescribed to avoid overconsumption of any nutrient.
Robert Haynes, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.