A dietary supplement is a manufactured product intended to supplement the diet by taking a pill, capsule, tablet, powder or liquid. A supplement may provide nutrients extracted from food sources or synthetics for the purpose of enhancing your nutrition. A supplement may provide nutrients that are extracted from food sources or that are synthetic for the purpose of increasing the amount of your intake.
Supplements include vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, and amino acids. Dietary supplements may also contain substances that have not been confirmed as essential for life but are marketed as having a beneficial biological effect, such as plant pigments or polyphenols. Animals can also be a source of ingredients for supplements, such as collagen from chickens or fish, for example. These are also sold separately and in combination, and can be combined with nutritional ingredients.
The European Commission (EU), as well as the Food and Drug Association (US), have also established harmonized standards to help ensure that food supplements are safe and properly labeled. Many adults and children in the United States take one or more vitamins or other food supplements.
The most popular supplements include vitamins D and B12; minerals such as calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and products such as glucosamine, probiotics, and fish oils, etc which are all substances taken to improve health or well-being. These supplements are not intended to cure diseases or health conditions. The exception is when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved them for a specific disease or health condition.
Supplements do not have to undergo the same tests as medicines. In the same year, the European Food Safety Authority also approved a health claim for calcium and vitamin D dietary supplements and the reduction of the risk of osteoporotic fractures by reducing bone loss. However, health supplements are usually only taken by adults and therefore, care should be taken when giving supplements to a child, unless recommended by a healthcare professional.
As adults, our nutrition sometimes takes a toll due to unhealthy habits, bad diets, etc. That’s where supplements come in, providing you with the support your body needs to stay healthy.
While health supplements are supposed to help us stay healthy and strong, sometimes our bodies can react badly to ingredients. If you think you’ve had a bad reaction to a dietary supplement, let your health care provider know. Tell your health care providers (including doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and dietitians) about any dietary supplements you are taking.
Before taking a supplement, please discuss your options with your health care provider, as the effectiveness and safety of a supplement may depend on your individual situation and health.