What are the Benefits of Dietary Supplements?

Many adults and children in the United States take one or more vitamins or other dietary supplements to improve their health and wellbeing.

In addition

to vitamins, dietary supplements may contain minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and many other ingredients. These supplements come in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, gummies and powders, as well as beverages and energy bars. Popular supplements include vitamins D and B12; minerals such as calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and products such as glucosamine, probiotics and fish oils. Dietary supplements are designed to provide essential nutrients that may be missing from your diet.

They can come in the form of pills, capsules, powders, beverages and energy bars. Unlike medicines, dietary supplements don't have to go through the rigorous testing that medicines do. A dietary supplement is a product manufactured with the intention of supplementing the diet by taking a pill, capsule, tablet, powder or liquid. A supplement can provide nutrients extracted from food or synthetic sources to increase the amount you consume. The class of nutritional compounds includes vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, and amino acids.

Dietary supplements may also contain substances that have not been confirmed to be essential to life, but are marketed as having a beneficial biological effect, such as plant pigments or polyphenols. Animals can also be a source of supplement ingredients, such as collagen from chickens or fish. They are also sold individually and in combination, and can be combined with nutritional ingredients. The European Commission has also established harmonized standards to help ensure that dietary supplements are safe and properly labeled. For example, large doses of vitamin B6 can damage the nervous system, and taking vitamin A, C, or E supplements during pregnancy can cause serious harm to your baby.

For example, if you're pregnant, you may need to take supplements until your baby is born or until you finish breastfeeding. Examples of dietary supplements include brewer's yeast, spirulina (seaweed), bee pollen and royal jelly, fish oil and essential fatty acid supplements, colostrum (a specialized dairy product), psyllium seed husks (a source of fiber), wheat germ, wheatgrass, and medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake and reishi varieties. They can also include antioxidants, probiotics (supplements containing beneficial bacteria for the digestive tract), digestive enzymes, shark cartilage or other animal products, or chemical extracts such as the hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and coenzyme Q10. Dietary supplements are manufactured using intact sources or extracts from plants, animals, algae, fungi or lichens. Examples include ginkgo biloba, curcumin, cranberry etc. For example, the minimum amount of vitamin D is 100 µg (4,000 IU), but the products are available without a prescription at 10,000 IU. Common examples of dietary supplements are vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin C, iron and calcium), oil supplements (such as fish oil capsules) and herbal supplements.

For example, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a vitamin for anthropoid primates like humans but not for other mammals. It's important to note that taking too much of certain vitamins can have adverse effects on your health. For example too much vitamin A can cause headaches and liver damage; reduce bone strength; and cause birth defects. Manufacturers may say that a supplement promotes health or supports a bodily function (such as immunity or heart health). However it's important to remember that these claims have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Therefore it's important to consult with your doctor before taking any dietary supplement.

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