To Take Or Not To Take Dietary Supplements

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Every once in awhile we come across an article bemoaning that we don’t get enough iron, magnesium or Vitamin E in our diets, which is causing something horrible to happen within our bodies. These articles usually end with a plea to take some sort of dietary supplement to deal with the supposed deficiency in our nutrition. While there might not be anything wrong with taking a Vitamin C supplement with breakfast every morning, or having a protein shake after every workout, how much do you really know about dietary supplements? Are they as beneficial as the experts claim? Here are a few facts for your consideration before you swallow another multivitamin.
If you’re diet is lacking, then a dietary supplement can help you fill in the nutritional gaps so your body can still function at its best. Pregnant women need to take in 27 milligrams of iron daily, but they might have difficulty keeping their food down; in this case they would greatly benefit from taking an iron supplement with their meals. Those who are beginning to suffer from bone loss might benefit from a calcium supplement, and there is AlgaeCal Plant Calcium Clinical Evidence to support that this plant has a greater effect on strengthening bones than most common calcium salts. Studies have also shown that women who take calcium supplements experience a reduction in the mood and symptoms associated with PMS. Lastly, athletes can greatly benefit from protein supplements because it helps improve muscular strength, endurance and overall physical performance. Basically, supplements can offer some nutritional benefits to those with a condition, genuine deficiency, or just improve the body’s performance.
However, if you’re already eating a well-balanced diet, then supplements aren’t really going to do much for you. Vitamins and other dietary supplements are not intended to replace food (hence the name “supplements”) so they cannot fulfill all the requirements of whole foods. In fact, when taken in dosages that exceed the recommended dietary intake, some supplements may be toxic and cause serious side effects. Vitamin A toxicity can cause liver damage, blurred vision, headaches, bone pain and swelling, drowsiness and nausea. Some supplements can also interact with medications, which can cause unwanted side effects and decrease the efficacy of the medicine. Furthermore, in the United States the manufacturers of dietary supplements don’t have to state that the use of their products are safe or effective. The worst offenders are usually weight loss aids, "natural" sexual enhancement pills, and supplements targeted at bodybuilders.

When taken as part of a balanced diet, and you stick to the recommended dosage, dietary supplements aren’t really doing much harm. However, you might be better off looking at your diet first and eating more of the food that provides the nutrients you’re deficient in. After all, a steak and steamed vegetable dinner will be more delicious than an iron supplement pill. Always make sure you read the label and consult your doctor before taking supplements that you don’t really need.


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