There is no scientific affirmation that dietary supplements or large amounts of vitamins and minerals can prevent or treat health problems or slow the aging process. Of course, there are a lot of people who due to their busy and intensive lifestyle do not consume a balanced diet or a variety of foods. In this case daily multivitamin tablets can be beneficial. People who follow well-balanced diet with a variety of foods provide their bodies with all the necessary nutrients.
Nowadays there are plenty of dietary supplements available. Ideally, it would be clear what types of supplements improve health and it would be easy to identify safe and effective products. But unfortunately the information about dietary supplements is often confusing or inexact.
What are dietary supplements?
The main mission of dietary supplement (also known as food supplement) is providing nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids or amino acids that you miss or don’t consume in required quantity in your diet.
In the United States, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 gives the following definition of the dietary supplement – it is a product that is intended to supplement the diet and bears or contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanical (excluding tobacco), amino acids, a dietary substance for use by people to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake, or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of any of the abovementioned. The main requirement for dietary supplement is intending for ingestion in pills, capsules, tablets, powder or liquid form. In any case it should not be represented for use as a conventional food or as the sole item of a meal or diet; labeled as a “dietary supplement”.
Today there are majority of dietary or nutritional supplements. As for vitamin and mineral supplements they are types of dietary ones. Such supplements include micronutrients intended to help smoothly body functioning.
Dietary supplements with a medicinal purpose are herbal supplements. Their main object is supporting a specific area of the body’s health, such as the liver, bones or skin.
What are the health benefits of vitamin and mineral supplements?
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that in a unique way help the body to function properly. For example, vitamin A supports vision and bone growth. Vitamin E improves and strengthens the immune system. Deficiency of vitamins and minerals may lead to body’s inability to protect and heal itself.
Due to the Harvard School of Public Health, “consuming several vitamins above the minimum daily requirement helps preventing heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and other chromic diseases”. Nevertheless, taking vitamins does not make up for an unhealthy diet, and vitamins wouldn’t replace the loss of all the necessary nutrients from fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. However, you may provide your organism with the multivitamin and mineral supplement as addition safeguard.
Micronutrients that the body needed for growth, digestion and nerve function; metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy; and cellular repair are entirely provided by vitamin supplements. Various food sources provide different vitamins, and healthy diet should offer you all of them. A vitamin supplement can help you make up for those underrepresented in your diet.
Vitamin A supports the immune system, bone growth, vision, cell division. It is contained in liver (including cod liver oil), dairy, meat. Vitamin B6 supports protein and red blood cell metabolism. Great sources of Vitamin B6 are grains, legumes, liver, bananas. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, supports connective tissue, nervous tissue, mitochondria. Products rich in vitamin C are citrus fruits, green veggies. Vitamin D supports normal levels of calcium and phosphorus. It is contained in cod liver oil, fish, fortified dairy products, eggs, sun exposure. Vitamin E is an antioxidant which supports the immune system and is contained in vegetables oils, nuts, grains.
With the help of minerals the body creates new cells and enzymes, distributes fluids, controls nerve impulses, brings oxygen and takes away carbon dioxide from cells. Mineral supplements provide micronutrients found extensively in bone and teeth.
Such mineral as calcium supports bone, teeth, blood, body fluid, muscle and blood vessel contraction, hormone and enzyme secretion. Products rich in calcium are dairy, green veggies, sesame seeds, almonds. Oysters, nuts, legumes and grains are included in copper, which supports normal growth, bone growth, sugar metabolism, and proper enzyme function. Iron is a metal that supports the transfer of oxygen and cell growth. It is contained in meat, fish, leafy green vegetables, molasses. Magnesium supports muscles, nerve, heart, immune system, bones, blood pressure, energy metabolism, blood sugar levels, and protein synthesis. Nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables are rich in magnesium. Oysters, meat and seafood are contained in zinc, which supports enzyme production, wound healing, sense of taste and smell and normal growth.
Herbal Supplements are known as the oldest humanity’s health care tools. Also known as botanicals, they are the basis of many modern medicines. In ancient times primitive civilizations relied on herbs for healing, as do contemporary cultures throughout the world. The situation is similar nowadays. It has been estimated that 80% of the world’s population keep to traditional therapies, a major part of which are derived from plants.
Herbal supplements differ from vitamin and mineral supplements due to their medicinal value. Herbs are contained in fresh or dried products that are extracts (or tinctures), tablets, capsules, powders, teas, roots or leaves. They are a group of chemicals or a single chemical that has been isolated from a botanical. Herbal supplements used for maintaining or improving health in a specific area of the body or organ systems.