This article answers the question: what is a dietary supplement? There is a different supplement on the market today. Some add nutrients to your diet and other purposes. We’ll tell you how much we know about dietary supplements. We’ll discuss different types, side effects, tips for using, and what to look for when buying.
What is a Dietary Supplement?
Dietary supplements include minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and other products. They can be in different forms, such as powders, pills, capsules, or drinks. Dietary supplements play different roles in overall health. Firstly, they supplement the nutrients you get from diet. Also, they can reduce your chances of getting a health problem.
For instance, pregnant women supplement with folic acid to prevent defects in their babies. You can take calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones. Unlike drugs, supplements do not have to go through testing. Also, you don’t need a doctor’s prescription before you buy them. So, are dietary supplements safe?
According to the FDA, many dietary supplements have safety histories and are beneficial. However, they do not regulate what’s contained in these supplements before it gets to the market. Thus, you must stay informed and buy wisely. We have answered: What is a dietary supplement? Let us discuss how it works for weight loss.
How Do Dietary Supplements Help You Lose Weight?
Lifestyle changes, like limiting the intake of calories and staying physically active, help with weight loss. However, these changes may not be easy or enough for you. So you’re curious, “do dietary supplement work?”
Many companies sell different products, mostly labeled as the best dietary supplements for weight loss. And may work by helping you curb appetite, increase metabolism, or block channels for fat/carb absorption. Below are some of the common ingredients in dietary supplements.
Green Tea Extracts and Green Tea Extract
Green tea is one of the prominent substances in dietary supplements. It claims that it works by decreasing fat absorption, breaking down fat cells, and increasing metabolism. Drinking green tea is generally safe and may help with weight loss. However, green tea extract may have side effects.
African mango seeds are said to reduce the formation of fat tissues. So, they may be helpful in dietary supplements. They are also safe, though there’s no extensive research to support it.
Caffeine is a stimulant. It boosts your energy and keeps you alert. It works by increasing fat breakdown and burning calories. For most adults, caffeine is safe at doses up to 400-500 mg per day. At higher doses, it may cause nausea, vomiting, or increased heartbeat.
Chromium is a mineral that enhances insulin and regulates blood sugar levels. There are claims that chromium supplement boosts your muscle mass, fat loss and decrease appetite. Chromium is safe at doses from 20 to 40 micrograms, per day, for adults. At higher doses, it may lead to constipation, nausea, headache, dizziness. People with kidney problems shouldn’t take chromium.
Other ingredients are green coffee bean extracts, pyruvate, bitter orange, carnitine, raspberry ketones, etc. Note that dietary supplements may contain one or more of these ingredients.
Best Tips for Taking Dietary Supplements
Below are some general tips for taking dietary supplements:
Study the Labels
As directed by the FDA, supplements cannot claim to treat or cure any diseases. Also, ingredients and nutrition labeling must be present. Hence, before you buy a dietary supplement, check for any unusual claims. Also, be sure the ingredients used are harmless. It may be “organic” and still have some side effects.
Follow the Dosage Recommendations
You will find dosage guidelines on the label of most dietary supplements. Be sure to follow, or use as suggested by your doctor. Taking more than the recommended dose has no advantages. It may cause adverse effects like vomiting, nausea, headache. In adverse cases, liver damage.
For instance, iron is an essential mineral that transports oxygen to body tissues. It also maintains muscle, brain, and immune functions. When you take more iron than the body needs, it’ll build up toxins in the heart and liver.
Take as Directed
It’s not enough to follow the recommended dosage. Also, take as directed. Study the labels to understand how they may interact with your drug or food. Talk to your doctor about the supplements you take to learn how they interact with your medication. Some dietary supplements may require that you take them with or without food.
Don’t Substitute for Food.
Dietary supplements should not take the place of a healthy diet. Finally, you may want to talk to your doctor before taking any dietary supplement. Most importantly, if you have any medical condition or are going to have surgery.
3 Types of Dietary Supplements for Healthy Living
We can’t discuss ‘What is a dietary supplement,’ and not mention the different types. To an uninformed person, a supplement is, well, a supplement. But, is that so? We can put supplements into three categories:
Low-quality supplements fall under this category. They label them as the best dietary supplement on the market, sometimes. But, the quality says differently. They contain heavy metals, pesticides, contaminants and are unsafe. Also, the ingredients in use are often cheap. The labeling could be deceiving too. For instance, the label may say each tablet contains 300mg of Ca, whereas it’s just 100mg.
Furthermore, these products have ridiculous claims, often in violation of regulations. The prices of the products are most times low. This category of dietary supplements is not hard to find. There are no FDA Dietary supplements, so you must take extra care.
This type of dietary supplement is just there. It’s neither bad nor good. The majority of products fall under this middle category. The companies don’t break any regulations. But, their products are not of the highest quality. Contaminants may be present but in a low amount. The ingredients in use are common. The company doesn’t care about the best methods or techniques.
These dietary supplements don’t make extreme claims. However, they present these products as first-class, which is misleading. The prices are sometimes higher than the value you’ll get with the product.
This category is the first-class of dietary supplements. The companies use industry-leading techniques, and the ingredients are of the highest quality. They have a clean record, and products are third-party tested. Their prices are not necessarily the highest in the market. The value you want is what they give you, and the price reflects that.
Risks and Side Effects of Dietary Supplements
Like drugs, dietary supplements have risks and side effects. As we discuss, What is a dietary supplement? It’s only right we point out possible risks. Supplements, unlike drugs, are self-prescribed. So, people buy them without considering their health status. This behavior can be harmful, especially to people with certain medical conditions.
There are many benefits of dietary supplements when you use them properly. But people getting cancer treatments could be at risk. For instance, taking dietary medications during radiation treatment can cause severe reactions. Experts suggest cancer patients shouldn’t use supplements ‘til treatment is over.
What to Look for When Buying Supplements
The last part on What is a Dietary Supplement will serve as a buying guide. Here are things you must consider before you buy a dietary supplement:
- Buy from reliable brands.
- Check for third-party certifications.
- Look for, and go through, product labels and ingredients list.
- Buy from brands with a physical location or retail store.
- Buy legal products
Finally, buy only from transparent brands when shopping online. They should have a good website, with the result of a third-party test available.
The Bottom Line
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a way to get nutrients. However, you may need supplements to get the recommended intake of some nutrients. The benefits of dietary supplements range from additional nutrients supply to reduced chances of illnesses. But use them safely.
Take a step forward and find out about the products you plan to use. Beware of manufacturers that make extreme claims. Remember, if a product sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In sum, it’s best to take care of your health and make informed decisions.