A General Summary of Diet Supplements and Their Uses

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By JeffreyThurber

What are Dietary Supplements?

When defining dietary supplements the answer is very simple. They are anything that you can eat or drink. There are a host of different versions of supplements available. Things like vitamins, minerals, vegetation, amino acids, oil extracts, seeds and herbs all top the list of possible supplements. These supplements also come in many different forms such as pills or liquids just to name a few. It is also worth noting that supplements are meant to supplement your food and are not meant to replace food in any situation.

In America, these supplements can be purchased at many different locations. Discount stores, food markets, drug stories, online catalogs and retailers will sell dietary supplements. In fact anywhere that drugs are sold there is likely to be a selection of supplements as well. The main reason people will take supplements in this manner is to increase vitamin levels and improve their health.

While manufactures are not legally permitted to advertise their supplements as a prevention of certain diseases or a remedy for illnesses as per FDA regulations, they are, however, allowed to proclaim that these diet supplements can and do promote health and are beneficial to physical welfare.

The reality is that diet supplements are thousands of years old. Over the years people have used an assortment of natural supplements in the treatment and prevention of many diseases and illnesses. In fact, there are some cases where modern medicine has actual roots in herbal remedies. This is front and center in discovery of Aspirin, which is actually developed from willow tree bark.

Many wonder why there is little research done on many diet supplements and the truth is that since the FDA does not require research, none is usually performed. Outside of a supplement doing harm to people, the FDA will likely never monitor supplements at all. In the event someone is hurt while using a certain supplement, the FDA might require that the supplement in question be pulled from retailers shelves.

What Exactly Are Dietary Supplements Used For?

In may cases dietary supplements are used specifically for health reasons.

  • When people want to prevent the common cold, vitamin C and Echinacea is a good product to use. These also work to increase the speed in which a person recovers as well.
  • For fear of suffering certain side effects brought on by traditional medicines, many people turn to natural herbal remedies for treatment and for prevention of diseases and illnesses. While this can be somewhat controversial at times, some beneficial treatments for gastric disorders have been found in herbal supplements and green tea is a very good treatment for those who have problems sleeping.
  • With ongoing research regarding some natural remedies showing that there are benefits to these treatments versus traditional medicine, the area of research into these remedies is expected to increase.

What Are the Safety Factors for Using Dietary Supplements?

Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer to this question. There are some very helpful diet supplements that are safe for you to take, and then there are some very dangerous ones as well. The important thing for many people to consider is to make sure that the diet supplement that you decide to take does not interfere with any prescribed medication you are presently taking. If there are any concerns, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor first.

It is important that if you are considering a switch to a natural herbal regiment to treat some condition, you should not stop taking your prescribed medication until you speak with your doctor. Your doctor should always be involved in your treatment regardless of whether it is prescribed medication or a natural remedy. This is doubly important if you are pregnant or nursing. Remember, always consult with your doctor first before you change any treatment.

When dietary supplements are involved, always keep these things in mind.

  • Simply because diet supplements are natural does not mean they are free from reactions. They can cause allergic reactions just the same as prescribed medicine can. In addition, they can cause prescribed medication to not work as it was supposed to if taken together.
  • Since dietary supplements are all different it is important to know dosing instructions and ingredients before you switch to a different supplement. You may be taking the same supplement but different manufactures use different methods of production and this could lead to different reactions to the same supplement.
  • Most vitamins and minerals have been properly vetted by the FDA and are safe to take in recommended dosages. However, since the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements any long-term benefits or potential problems that can arise from these supplements are unknown.

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