Food Supplements: What You Need to Know

We Indians have plenty of options to choose from vegetables & fruits, which is just not possible with many countries especially developed economies. Their genetically modified fruits & veggies have no taste and only look attractive. In comparison majority of adults there take one or more dietary supplements either every day or occasionally. Their list of daily supplements will make us Indians laugh, have a look:

Their list includes vitamins, minerals, herbals and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and many other products. Their dietary supplements come in a variety of forms: traditional tablets, capsules, and powders, as well as drinks and energy bars. Over the counter supplements include vitamins D and E; minerals like calcium and iron. Irony is they don’t have herbs such as garlic in natural form but look for pills instead.

The Food Supplement Label Normally, as per government guidelines all manufacturers carry a supplement facts panel listing the amount of active ingredients available per serving and some info on fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol etc. Plus the manufacturer also suggests the serving size but you can always consult a physician and decide the actual dosage which is just appropriate for you.

Unless you satisfy the basic requirements, most experienced consumers advise you to start with half the recommended amount. As and when you make progress, you can always increase the dosage and compare the results. If in doubt, consult your family physician or health care provider.

How effective are Food Supplements Those who have a fast lifestyle or live a much unorganized life may benefit from some supplements alright. But this may not last for long because supplements only benefit when other variety of real foods also form part of your diet.

Apart from the above, there are some supplements that have a beneficial effect on health and may be consumed whole life. This list includes calcium, vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) which prevents bone loss and in fact helps in keeping bones strong. There is another, folic acid which decreases risk of a few birth defects and the wonderful oil which only fish can provide, omega-3 fatty acid preventing heart diseases.

It is the hard fact that all the above nutrients are something we cannot produce within us and hence always have to depend on external sources. But there is nothing wrong in consuming these nutrients and they also are not habit forming.

The Risk Factor you should not miss Today many breakfast cereals and beverages are made with added nutrients to supposedly enhance their utility. Now when you consume dietary or food supplements, inadvertently you may ingest some nutrient in far excess values.

Excess Nutrients Create Far More Trouble than Benefit Our body can only utilize a specific amount of any nutrient and any excess amount need be excreted out. This is additional and unnecessary task your body has to do. Doing so may deplete your body from other vital storage. One example may explain this better:

Carbohydrates provide energy no doubt. But excess carbs is deposited as fat and you need additional exercises & other supplements to dissolve it. Hence it is always better to control your intake of excess carbs and keep yourself fit and also prevent your body from extra physical & chemical process.

Side Effects of Excess Vitamins Vitamins are essential for us but too much vitamin A causes headaches and possibly damages your liver, and reduces bone strength. Excess iron also causes nausea and vomiting and damages other organs. Over and above this possibility, the task of excreting them out is a burden too.

Blind Faith is Harmful too Dietary supplements are usually very complex products. Don’t believe that all foreign products have impeccable quality. Always be skeptical of accepting what is written on the label as many manufacturers are known to tread away from Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Many simply highlight expensive nutrients whereas add inferior ones and make more money.

India is already weak on imposing standards and most of the food supplements are imported and we have little control hence it is advised to carefully choose your supplements.

Tips to Keep Yourself Safe If you are into bodybuilding and look forward to increase body strength there is no harm in taking food supplements. Ensure that you start with the lowest dosage and when it appears to work and gels with your exercises you can slowly reach the recommended dosage.

Internet is full of information which can be true as well as simply promotional. Do not decide to take dietary supplements to treat a health condition that you have diagnosed yourself, without consulting any doctor or health care provider.

Remember, the term “natural” doesn’t always mean safe. Your body may not be able to utilize it well and have multitude of side effects. A supplement’s safety depends on many things, like its chemical makeup, how it works inside your body, how it is prepared, and the dosage. Certain herbs can harm the liver.

Keep Everything Documented Jot down what you started with, the dosage and how was the progress. In case something goes wrong you can always refer them and discuss with your family physician.

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