Supplements are products we take through our mouth that add nutrients or other compounds to our bodies to support and improve the state of our health.
Ideally, our balanced diet would nourish us with all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients our bodies need. However, our eating habits are far from ideal, hence the need for dietary supplements.
Supplements are not to replace our whole food intake, as nothing can replace the advantages of consuming whole foods. However, some deficiencies come with our poor food environment, busy lifestyle, and physical and mental stress, which we must account for by taking these dietary supplements.
In promoting total body wellness, supplements are the way to ensure we get all the nutrients we need. This article will educate you on how natural health supplements can complement your diet.
Criteria for Choosing Supplements
- Evaluate Your Nutritional Needs: these nutritional needs depend on age, family history, health condition, lifestyle, and diet.
- Age: some hormonal changes related to aging can influence the type of supplements you should take.
- Family history: some health challenges or risks may be associated with your health heritage. Learning about your family history can help inform your choices for supplements with those risks in mind.
- Health condition: if you have a medical condition, are on medication, or are pregnant, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking any supplement; this is because some medications may affect which supplement you can or can not take.
- Lifestyle: your body may not be able to absorb nutrients efficiently if you drink alcohol or are regularly exposed to pollutants. Stress can also affect the kind of nutrients your body needs.
- Diet: the type and quantity of nutrients you should take largely depend on the type of foods you eat. Some foods you eat may hinder or facilitate the absorption of other supplements.
How Effective Are Supplements?
Supplements cannot take the place of the different foods that are vital for a healthy diet. However, dietary supplements can be beneficial in giving you the right amount of essential nutrients even if you don’t get to eat a variety of nutritional foods.
Not only do supplements improve your general health, but they also help manage some health conditions. For example:
- Folic acid: this is a water-soluble vitamin. Your body can not make folic acid, so you need to get it from your diet.
Some of the benefits of folic acid supplements include preventing congenital disabilities, treating folate deficiency, maintaining brain health, and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Folic acid supplements can also help in treating certain health conditions like inflammation, fertility issues, and diabetes.
- Fish oils: these are one of the most generally consumed supplements. They are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for health. Taking fish oil supplements can help you get adequate omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs, even if you don’t eat a lot of oily fish.
Amazingly, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils are of greater health benefits than those found in some plant sources.
Benefits of Fish Oil
Some of the benefits of these fish oils include:
- Reducing the rate of heart disease: While it is true that fish oils have not demonstrated the ability to primarily prevent a first heart attack or stroke, it is recommended that patients with heart diseases consume omega-3 fatty acids(found in fish oils) to prevent another attack.
- Reducing liver fat: fish oil supplements can help reduce the fat in your liver, improving your liver function.
- Improving eye health: studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent certain eye conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration (a condition that causes gradual loss of vision), and dry eye syndrome in adults.
- Reducing inflammation: fish oils can help reduce symptoms of inflammatory diseases, and this is due to their anti-inflammatory effects.
- Maintaining healthy skin: skin health can deteriorate as you go through life, especially due to aging or too much exposure to sunlight. Fish oil supplements can, however, maintain healthy skin.
Things to Consider When Choosing Fish Oil Supplements
Omega-3 supplements are important for your health, and there are several options to choose from, but not all of them are equally beneficial to your health. Below are some things to consider before taking a fish oil supplement:
- Freshness: omega-3 fatty acids are prone to oxidation, making them sour. Do not use an expired fish oil supplement that has a sour smell.
To avoid this, you can go for fish oil supplements that contain antioxidants (vitamin E is an example).
- Sustainability: choose a fish oil supplement that has a sustainability certification.
- Concentration: choose a supplement that contains at least 500mg of EPA and DHA per 1000mg of fish oil. (Read your Labels)
- Dosage: taking too much of a food supplement can potentially cause health problems, so it is crucial to choose the supplement that has the right dose for you.
Supplements May Be Risky
Supplements may pose a risk if you have certain medical conditions or undergo surgery; they could also react with some of your medications.
Some supplements may contain ingredients that are not listed on the label, and some of these ingredients may be dangerous.
Some supplements that may pose a threat include:
- Vitamin K: this can reduce the cogency of blood thinners to prevent blood from clotting
- Vitamin A: this may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers
- Antioxidant supplements: certain antioxidant supplements like vitamin E may reduce the effect of some types of cancer chemotherapy
Nothing Should Replace a Healthy Diet
Supplements are supplementary and should never be used in place of real food. No matter the idea behind the supplements you take, you must note that they aren’t a replacement for a nutritional diet.
Supplements provide you with the support your body needs to stay healthy. Most people get all the required vitamins and minerals essential for body development and function by eating healthy, while others need a little extra boost, and that’s where supplements come in.