The Age of Dietary Supplements

dietary supplements

In a perfect world, there would be no need for dietary supplements and everyone would get every single nutrient that they need from their daily meals. However, we do not live in such a world. The quality of our diets is demonstrated by the obesity rate. On one hand, as demonstrated by the obesity epidemic, our diets contain an excess of carbohydrates and sugars. On the other hand, the fast food and ready-made meal heavy diet lack in the various micronutrients that are usually obtained by a diet containing diverse foods. While today it is possible to buy produce from all over the world in your local supermarket, in reality, most people’s diet mostly consists of only a few items.

Reduced nutritional value of common diets

Cooking own meals from mostly raw ingredients at home is usually recommended, but fewer and fewer people actually do that. In case of pre-packaged ready to eat meals and fast foods, the corporations add only as many ingredients such that the customer will tolerate the lack of complex flavours. Any additional costs for marginal improvements are seen as a waste of money. Also, artificial flavouring is widely used, which has no nutritional value, unlike the taste and flavour derived from a variety of natural ingredients. Another factor to consider is that for pre-packed foods, the ingredients are frozen or pre-processed in order to make logistics and supply chain easier and cheaper to manage. This causes even more loss of nutrients from whatever few ingredients that the ready-made meal or fast food may contain. Hence, such foods are often woefully inadequate in providing all the necessary ingredients, particularly micronutrients such as vitamins and various minerals

Enter the supplements

Dietary supplements are additions to the normal diet that add many of the micronutrients and thus make the diet more conducive to a healthy lifestyle. However, supplements are no excuses for allowing yourself to have a terrible diet. In fact, the FDA and NHS specifically note that supplements are not a substitute to a balanced diet. However, if your diet is reasonably healthy, then supplements can fill out the remaining gaps to ensure that you do not face any problems due to nutrient deficiencies. The proportion of people using supplements is quite large. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, more than half of all adults in the US use one or more supplements at least occasionally.

Different types of supplements

Dietary supplements are widely available in various forms. You can find them in the form of tablets, capsules, powders, gels and liquids. They may also be natural, nature-derived or completely artificial. Many people actually prefer natural supplements since artificially synthesised supplements. These supplements range from fibre supplements, minerals to different vitamins. You will be able to find some supplements over the counter or online without any regulations, while for some are prescribed for certain people in specific conditions, for example, iron during pregnancy and vitamin D for those who do not go outdoors in sunlight due to work restrictions.

Natural supplements

Several supplements are natural or nature-derived. Many prefer such supplements since the concentration of nutrients in natural substances is not as high as in the artificial supplants, thus posing a lower risk of overdose. Some of such supplements may even hardly be considered supplements by most of us. For example, many dry fruits provide various essential fatty acids for the body. Similarly, dark chocolate provides a good amount of antioxidants. Red wine is also rich in antioxidants. However, an alcoholic beverage every day may not be for everyone. While brewing red wine, the seeds of the grapes are rejected, from which grape seed extract can be derived. Grape seed extract is a practical and convenient option for such people. Organic grape seed extract contains several different antioxidants, vitamin E and various flavonoids.

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