What are dietary supplements?
Dietary supplements are products that are taken orally, usually as powders, liquids, tablets, and pills. These products contain “dietary ingredients,” which can be any of the following:
Vitamins. These are substances that the body needs to function properly. It usually absorbs nutrients from the food that you eat. Some examples are vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E.
Minerals. These refer to substances called “elemental nutrients.” The body also needs minerals to help maintain the normal functions of the bones and organs. Calcium, potassium, and iron are just some examples of minerals.
Antioxidants. These ward off cell damage that may occur in our daily lives. Some common antioxidants in dietary supplements are lutein and lycopene.
Enzymes. The body makes use of enzymes in important bodily processes like digestion. Some enzymes that you can find in dietary supplements are cellulases and lipases.
Amino Acids. In order to form protein, the body needs amino acids. These can also help digest food and be a source of energy. Some examples of amino acids are lysine and valine.
Herbs and Plant Extracts. These substances usually come from plants or herbs used in cooking. Common herbs or plant extracts that may come in the form of dietary supplements are garlic, gingko, and echinacea.
What are the benefits of dietary supplements?
Dietary supplements were made to help the body get enough of the substances it needs to function efficiently. They can also help boost the immune system. However, dietary supplements cannot replace medication and prescriptions from a doctor. Similarly, they cannot treat diseases.
Additionally, dietary supplements do not replace whole foods. Those who take supplements are strongly encouraged to maintain a balanced diet.