Food supplements are products that contain vitamins, minerals, botanical or herbal ingredients, amino acids and enzymes. Many people take food supplements that are sold in various including tablets, capsules, soft gels, powders, and liquids. From the word “supplements,” whatever nutrients or functional substances we get from the natural foods we eat. For people whose diet is lacking of the nutrients and substances found in the supplement, taking such may correct deficiencies or reduce the risk of disease. For those on proper diet in quantity and quality, there is no need. What works for one person may not work for the other person simply because we have different diets and the way the body digests, absorbs and utilizes the substance derived from the diet differ. Thus, the supplement being used must suit just what is needed or in combination with others in reasonable dose. It should also be safe from contaminants including steroid hormones and stimulants.
More supplements is not better. Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, some minerals and other substances can accumulate in the body and become toxic. For water-soluble vitamin B and C, the body rids itself of whatever extra each day. Amounts other people can tolerate, maybe harmful to others. The higher the dose, the greater the harm. Excessive intake is not just a waste of money but also additional burden to the body like the liver and kidneys. Proper understanding of the nutrition facts in the label can definitely help. If label says a dose of the supplement provides 50% DV, it is providing half of what is needed for that nutrient in a day. If it says 100%,, the supplement can provide all that is needed in a day.
Contrary to many claims especially of dealers, food supplements are not magic pills nor “quick fix” that can cure illnesses thus the “no approved therapeutic claims.” Yet, some develop a false belief of just taking supplements to cure the illness rather than seek professional advise. Should you be taking medications, there may also be undesirable drug-nutrient interactions. Even without medications, there are nutrient interactions like zinc hinder calcium absorption, calcium hinders iron absorption, vitamin C enhances iron absorption and so on, so your health professional will have to be consulted.
At the end of the day, the right corrective step to improve the body’s nutrient needs is to improve the person’s food choices and eating patterns, not to start taking supplements. Food sources are definitely better and cheaper though remain a challenge to many.