January 9, 2015

Dietary Supplements: To Use or Not To Use?

Saying that we now live in an extremely fast world may sounds like a cliché, but it is true. We no longer have patience for sitting calmly in a cafe. We drink coffee to go. We eat food to go. If people have no more patience to look at one TV channel for more than five seconds, how do you expect them to care about their diet, to plan it and devote some time to making it successful?

Besides, today we can find a vide variety of food on the market. But, market increase has also resulted in the appearance of genetically modified food which often does more harm than good. Let’s face it – unless you pay very close attention, chances are your diet is lacking some basic nutrients. What do you do then? Do you build all of your life around adhering to a carefully planned diet?  Do you start growing your own vegetables and becoming obsessive about the amount of X or Y in your every meal? Or do you simply take a pill, or a powder?


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 There are a few things one must know about dietary supplements. First, their sole purpose is to compensate specific ingredients the human body needs. Therefore, they are true friends to human health, but the way some people use them is just not friendly at all. And this is how we get to the second lesson one must learn: dietary supplements are not food and they will never ever compensate a meal, even when you`re trying to lose weight.  Before taking any kind of supplements it would be advised to ask for doctor's opinion.
Just to check off the list, dietary supplements include everything from vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, botanical supplements (commonly known as probiotics), to various protein based muscle builders, weight gainers, weight burners etc. It is safe to say that vitamins are most commonly used. It is a popular opinion that a multivitamin pill is all the health a person needs. This is as far away from the truth as possible. What most people forget is that we don't need the equal amounts of all vitamins, nor everybody has the same needs.

Every single person that decides to use some specific supplement needs to know exactly which supplement he or she needs, in which dosage and in which form (besides tablets there are capsules, powders, softgels, gelcaps and liquids). The need for supplements varies and that depends on various factors such as age, sex, weight, specific physiological state and many other factors. More so, if you lack Vitamin C during winter, it doesn't mean you will need more of it forever.

It's important to know that all the ingredients found in dietary supplements have to be 100% natural. They cannot contain chemical additives such as colorants, fragrances, additives or sugar. These ingredients not only reduce the quality of the supplement, but are, in fact, contrary to its purpose. Therefore, read the ingredients list carefully.

Supplements were primarily meant to address a lack of certain matters in the organism. Doctors will always tell you that, given a choice, you should always go for natural food sources instead of supplements, because they usually contain other beneficial nutrients. However, they are a good alternative in case you are unable to consume certain foods due to allergies or various medical conditions.

As for various sports supplements, the important thing is to be informed and always know what you’re taking. Many products promise to get you “buffed overnight”, but you should always keep in mind that supplements are only there to aid you on your path to a perfect figure. The main factors that are going to lead you there are discipline and commitment. Know what you’re introducing into your body, and whenever in doubt, consult a doctor. Do your best to stick to trusted brands with a proven track record and trusted suppliers of sports supplements.

The bottom line is, dietary supplements can play a big role in helping you restore the chemical balance in your body, but they do have their limitations and they can never fully supplant natural food sources. So, be smart, eat healthy, and choose your supplements wisely. Get them to be your friends, not an obstacle in your path to a healthy life.

Contributed by Jenny Hahn

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