Diet supplements are used by people everyday to help replace important nutrients in their bodies. They come in different forms from something that can be eaten, something that can be drunk or something that can be swallowed (such as a pill). Vitamins, minerals, plants, oil extracts, herbs and many other natural elements are considered to be diet supplements and can be used for a variety of reasons. However, they are not to be used as a replacement for food as they do not provide enough nutrition to completely support a person.
America is a country that allows diet supplements to be sold just about everywhere. They can be found in your corner gas station (limited of course), at discount stores, grocery stores and in health stores among other places. The reason that so many supplements are available in so many places is because people are becoming more and more focused on their health and many of these products are beneficial in that regard.
One of the things that does surprise people about diet supplements is that they make no direct claims about what they can do. This is because regulations by the FDA stipulate that any product that has not passed their rigorous three phase testing process (which takes a number of years) and is approved by their panel cannot be released as a remedy to a problem. However, diet supplements can claim to promote health and be beneficial to overall well being.
What many people do not realize is that the use of dietary supplements is nothing new. For thousands of years countries around the world have been using herbal remedies to help heal their people. Willow bark, for example was used to cure headaches, in modern times willow bark is used as a primary ingredient in Aspirin. This goes to show that these remedies do have a history of effectiveness.
Dietary supplement companies do not often conduct experiments on the products that they sell, this is in large part due to the expense of such studies as well as the fact that they can sell their products without FDA approval, which means that they do not have to do the research that would be necessary for a drug company. However, the FDA will step in if there are problems with specific diet supplements and require that it be removed from the shelf until it can be proven that it is harmless.
Most dietary supplements are used for health reasons, although there are some that are used to build body mass or lose weight.
Often Vitamin C and Echinacea are used to combat the symptoms of a cold. They can also be used as preventative measures and are used to decrease recovery time in those who already have a cold.
Many people use diet supplements instead of prescription medications because they have found that they do not suffer from the same side effects and/or addictions that many people suffer from with prescription treatments. Some natural remedies are great for stomach problems and even doctors tout the benefits for green tea for reducing blood pressure and helping people sleep because of its soothing and relaxing nature.
More and more pharmaceutical companies are studying the benefits of diet supplements, especially natural products that have already shown benefits in certain areas. In a few years there should be some more scientific facts regarding many of the products that people use right now.
The safety of diet supplements is up for debate. Certainly there are many supplements that are safe and are even recommended by doctors. However, there are others that cause serious side effects and have even been known to cause serious damage or death to individuals. For people on doctor prescribed medications, it is important to discuss any natural herbs that you plan to take before you take them.
If you have a condition that is already being treated by a doctor then you should speak to your doctor before replacing a medication with a supplement or if you plan on taking a supplement with your medication. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it won’t interfere with what you are taking so it is important that your doctor approve anything that you are taking. If you are pregnant or nursing you should ask your doctor before you take anything new, whether it is an over the counter medication or a dietary supplement.
You should always keep the following things in mind before you purchase diet supplements:
- Diet supplements can cause allergic reactions in certain people. Always check the ingredients before you take something. Also, some herbs will counteract prescription medications, so check with your doctor to see what can be taken together.
- Dosing and even ingredients vary from company to company so if you decide to switch to a new product and think you are taking the same diet supplement, think again. You should always read the manufacturers recommendations on dosing and methods before you take them (and check the ingredients too). If something you are already taking says new and improved then you should check to see what the new thing will do for you (or to you).
- There is no long-term evidence of the benefits of diet supplements. This means that there is no data on whether or not the supplements you are taking will hurt you in the long run as well.