A dietary supplement is a product that a person takes by mouth, which contains nutritional ingredients meant for addition to the normal diet. These extra nutritional ingredients may include minerals, vitamins, botanicals, herbs, amino acids, organ tissues, metabolites and glandular. Ingredients like extracts or combinations such as soft gels, liquids, oils, capsules, tablets and powders can also constitute a dietary supplement.
Dietary supplements can also be found as bars and in other forms but they are classified as food and not as drugs.
Classifications of Dietary Supplements
The dietary supplements can be classified into the following four classes.
Herbs and Botanicals
Dietary supplements of herbs consist of natural products. These products are active ingredients or extracts from plant roots, stems, seeds, leaves, flowers or buds. An herbal product can be an extract of two or more active ingredients or they may be whole plant. Herbal extracts are being used to maintain low cholesterol, good health and help in disease control. People generally have a wrong view that because they are natural, these dietary supplements are good for health.
An example of a dangerous dietary supplement is ephedra extract. This is generally used for weight loss and energy boosting. It causes muscle injury, blood pressure, nerve damage, and stroke or memory loss. It is banned, but any dietary supplement containing this herb extract should never be used.
Many herbs prove to be very good dietary supplements. Some of these are listed below.
Grape Seed Antioxidant
Grape seed dietary supplement has concentrated extract of active ingredients from the seed of grapes. This product shows antioxidant properties and acts as a free radicals remover.
Oxy-Gen 3 flavors
Oxy-Gen is an Aloe Vera dietary supplement that provides improved oxygen for the human body.
Other herbal dietary supplements include cranberry, garlic, green tea, ginkgo biloba, etc.
Vitamin dietary supplements contain essential vitamins that are needed by many cell reactions and body functions. Certain vitamins exhibit antioxidant behavior too which remove the free radicals from the body. Some vitamins present in dietary supplements are not manufactured within human body such as vitamin K and vitamin D. A healthy body that has a supply of good balanced diet doesn’t need vitamin supplements, as over usage of such dietary supplements can cause liver damage.
Vitamins are of two types: water soluble and fat soluble. The water soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and the 7 vitamin Bs can dissolve in water and hence are not stored in any significant amount within the human body. The fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E and K are stored in the fats of the body. Fresh fruits or vitamin dietary supplement is used by people to ensure proper amount of water soluble vitamins.
Vitamin A & D (25,000 IU/1,000 IU)
This dietary supplement is rich in vitamin A and vitamin D, which are both needed by many cell functions and body reactions for release of energy.
B-12 / Folic Acid Combo
B12 and folic acid belong to the vitamin B family and support action of the C vitamin. It also helps to strengthen the acid present in the stomach for better digestion.
Other vitamin dietary supplements include vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, vitamin K, Vitamin B12, B6, B3 and many more.
Mineral dietary supplements contain minerals required by body fluids and tissues like bones, brain, teeth, liver, brain, blood, muscle and nerve cells. There are approximately 60 minerals that are present in a human body but 22 out of them are necessary. To have the proper amounts of minerals, good healthy food and dietary supplements are advised.
Dietary supplements contain two types of minerals required by the body. The major minerals, which are the ones that are required by the body in large amounts, are calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chlorides and sulfur. Body requirement for these minerals is almost 250 grams each day. The trace minerals are copper, iodine, fluoride, manganese, iron, zinc and chromium and are required in small quantities. The amount that should be taken of trace mineral is about 20 milligram each day.
Liquid Life Ultra Calcium w/Ostivone
This mineral dietary supplement contains easily absorbing calcium along with several other trace minerals.
75 Plant Derived Minerals
75 plant derived mineral dietary supplement is natural and the purest source of minerals. It provides many minerals not produced within the body.
These dietary supplements include fish oils, compounds present in food such as flavonoids, CoQ10 and many more.
Who needs dietary Supplements?
Dietary supplements are needed by all those people who have deficiency of certain nutrients in their diet or body due to lack of proper vitamin and mineral rich foods or lack of enough food. Athletes, vegetarians, older people and pregnant women can use dietary supplements for better health.
Dietary Supplement Selection and Use
Dietary supplements provide extra nutritional ingredients and are not a replacement of food. Natural foods provide many complex compounds that are needed by the human body in many function and cell metabolism. These products are only to be used to improve body function. Before you actually opt for a supplement bear the following points in mind.
It may be wise to avoid all the dietary supplements that have large or mega servings. Over usage can cause nutrient toxicity. Many dietary supplements contain herbal and botanical extracts that are known to cause severe side effects. You must have complete and viable information about the ingredients. Natural vitamins are more expensive and if any company offers very low prices then they may not be genuine. Check the label of the supplement and note the amount of nutrients in each serving. The label of the medicine should have USP written on it which means that the dietary supplement meets the US Pharmacopeia standards.
There are some known dietary supplements that a person should not take. Some of these include Aristolochic acid that is toxic for the kidney, comfrey that causes liver disease, kava that causes liver damage, Tiratricol that can cause heart attacks, chaparral that causes hepatitis, and usnic acid that is toxic to the liver. There are other dietary supplements in the market that have side effects, as well.