Good nutrition is an essential requirement for leading a healthy lifestyle. Living a nutritious life means giving your body all the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins it needs to work. Together with moderate physical activity, your diet can potentially help you attain and maintain a healthy weight, minimize your risk of developing chronic diseases, and promote your overall health.
Even for people with a healthy weight, poor nutrition is associated with major health risks that can potentially lead to illnesses or even death. These include hypertension, heart disease, type two diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease as well as some types of cancer among others.
The link between good nutrition, healthy weight, and reduced chronic disease risk is too important to ignore.
If you take the necessary steps to eat healthily, you will be on your way to enjoying all the essential nutrients your body requires to stay healthy, strong, and active.
According to the American dietary guidelines, your nutritional needs should be met through your diet, not just exercise. However, these guidelines also recommend that for certain people, nutritional food supplements may be the best way to get nutrients they might otherwise lack.
What are nutritional food supplements?
These are dietary supplements that are intended to offer nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in adequate quantities, including vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids, or any other nutritional substance. Dietary food supplements are usually available in numerous forms, including tablets, capsules, gelcaps, liquids, soft gels, and powders.
Despite their potential benefits, dietary supplements are not meant to substitute for food.
This is primarily because they can’t replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as vegetables and fruits. Whole foods provide three primary benefits over dietary food supplements, including:
Whole foods such as fruits, whole grains, legumes, vegetables offer dietary fiber. Dietary fiber should be part of your diet plan because it has been proven to help reduce your risk of developing certain diseases such as heart disease and type two diabetes. It can also help manage constipation.
Whole foods are highly complex and are filled with a spectrum of micronutrients your body dearly needs. By feeding your body healthy whole foods you can lose weight, gain energy, and keep your appetite at bay throughout the day.
A significant number of whole foods are also a great source of antioxidants. If you were not aware, antioxidants are substances that slow down the natural process that results in tissue and cell damage. And it is not clear that antioxidants present in dietary supplements guarantee similar benefits as those available in whole foods.
Why do people take nutritional food supplements?
Research has proven that the average American diet lacks a number of essential nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, calcium as well as vitamins A, C, and vitamin D. This partly explains why more than half of American citizens go for supplements to get the essential nutrients they need.
Most people also take these nutritional food supplements not just to make up for what they are missing, but to equally give themselves an extra health boost; a preventive buffer to keep dangerous diseases out of your reach.
Supplementation not only cushions you against nutrient deficiency, but also bridges the gap between malnutrition, which culminates in premature death, and adequate nutrition, which results in an extended lifespan.
The additional nutrients that supplements guarantee to prevent free radicals and other toxic chemicals from harming the body’s healthy tissues and cells, speed up the repair and regeneration process of your damaged cells and tissues and enhance renewal. The long-term effect of all this is a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life.
Who needs nutritional food supplements?
Your body needs all the essential nutrients such as minerals and vitamins to function optimally. So, if you are nutrient-deficient, it is highly recommended that you should take nutritional food supplements. As previously mentioned, your first line of defense against unhealthy living should be a healthy diet.
This implies that you need to eat clean and colorful. Nutrition experts recommend that you should eat sufficient amounts of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and unsaturated fats. At the same time, you will want to reduce your intake of highly refined grains, sugar as well as both saturated and trans-saturated fats.
It is imperative to mention that even those who practice responsible nutrition may still be at risk of being deficient in a certain mineral or vitamin, necessitating the need for dietary supplements.
In general, you should consider taking nutritional food supplements if you live in cloudy environments, live with food restrictions, or suffer from certain health conditions such as celiac or Crohn’s disease.
Those who live in cloudy environments usually don’t get a sufficient amount of sunlight. This implies that they will suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
On the other hand, when you are suffering from celiac disease, the small finger-like projections, villi, found in your intestine will get damaged. Villi promote nutrient absorption and so when they are not functioning, nutrients won’t be absorbed into your body appropriately. This implies that you’ll have to visit one of the natural food stores in your area and purchase food supplements as recommended by your doctor.
The other group of people that may need dietary supplements include:
- Adults that are aged 50 and above.
- Adults aged 65 and above should take vitamin D supplements to help strengthen their bones and limit the risk of falls.
- Those who don’t always eat well or consume fewer calories than required.
- Vegan individuals who eat a limited variety of foods.
- Those suffering from a health condition that affects how your body absorbs or utilizes nutrients such as chronic diarrhea, food intolerance, or liver disease.
- Individuals who don’t obtain at least two servings a week of seafood, that provides omega-3 fatty acids essential for heart health.
- Those who have had surgery on their digestive tract and are not able to digest and absorb vital nutrients appropriately.
Are there any potential side effects associated with the use of dietary supplements?
It is worth noting that certain types of supplements contain active ingredients that may trigger strong biological effects in your body. This only implies that some of these supplements could potentially complicate or hurt your health.
As a result, before you even consider using any type of food supplement, you should first consult your doctor.
What’s more, you should be able to keep up with dietary supplement safety alerts. The FDA routinely provides a list of food supplements that have been reported to cause adverse effects.
Before taking any dietary supplements it is strongly recommended to talk to a doctor first to see if your body is lacking any individual vitamin or mineral. Taking it upon yourself to determine what you are lacking can lead to some adverse side effects that could have been avoided altogether with a simple trip to the doctor.
It is also important that you eat as many whole foods as possible to gain these vitamins/minerals through your diet, rather than through supplements.
We hope this article has helped you in figuring out why people take nutritional food or dietary supplements. If you have any questions make sure to leave a comment down below!