Should You Add Dietary Supplements to Your Meal?

Dietary Supplement

Plants and herbs have been used as natural remedies for thousands of years. Many cultures worldwide have adopted these substances for medicinal purposes. Several medications are derived from chemicals found in plants. Today, we see plants and herbs in the form of supplements that are available in a variety of formulations, such as capsules, pills, oils, and more. Many people add supplements to their diet to ensure they are receiving adequate vitamins and minerals they may otherwise not be getting from food alone. For example, vegetarians have a higher likelihood than non-vegetarians to have vitamin B deficiencies. Here, it would be beneficial for vegetarians to seek vitamin B supplements to add to their diet. Menopausal women are at an increased risk for developing osteoporosis, so a calcium supplement would help build and maintain strong bones. People experiencing iron-deficiency anemia may take iron and vitamin C as supplements to their diet to overcome anemia. These are just a few cases in which supplements play a vital role in maintaining a healthy body. In this article, we had tried to clear your question that should you add dietary supplements to your meal?

This topic will review common supplements used, the safety and efficacy of supplements, how supplements are regulated in the United States, and whether their use is beneficial.

Should you add dietary supplements to your meal?

Deciding to add dietary supplements to your meal is a risk versus benefit discussion. Supplements can be beneficial in situations where diet alone is not enough to ensure the consumption of necessary nutrients. Supplements can also have a positive impact on certain diseases. However, supplements also pose a risk to the patient taking them. If not taken properly and depending on the supplement, the patient may experience side effects that can range from mild to severe. Supplements often have many drug interactions, so it is important to consider this when choosing whether to take supplements and to disclose any use of supplements or herbal products to your healthcare provider. Moreover, the safety and efficacy of the product do not have to be proven by the manufacturers. Many of the products need further research to determine their efficacy. All in all, it is best to get nutrients from a healthy diet rather than from supplementation. When this is not possible, supplements should be considered on a risk versus benefit basis.

Common Supplements

Chamomile – The use of chamomile as a dietary supplement has been suggested for anxiety; although, its efficacy has not been determined. Some evidence has shown chamomile may be efficacious in combination with other herbal supplements to treat an upset stomach, diarrhea in children, and colic in infants. When chamomile is used as a supplement, be cautious of allergic reactions and drug interactions. Drug interactions have been reported with cyclosporine and warfarin.1

Coenzyme Q10 – Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a naturally occurring coenzyme produced in the body. It can also be found in foods such as fish, meats, and whole grains. One of the main functions of CoQ10 is to help produce ATP through mitochondrial pathways. CoQ10 also has antioxidant properties. Depending on the amount taken, side effects that have been reported with CoQ10 include insomnia, rash, mild gastrointestinal discomfort, and nausea.3

Creatine – Creatine is a chemical compound found in the body that promotes ATP recycling. Creatine is present in many muscle supplements to improve exercise performance and may have a role in enhancing mitochondrial function. Results from creatine studies have been inconsistent and side effects reported included weight gain, muscle cramping, spasm, strains, and gastrointestinal discomfort.3

Ginkgo Biloba – Ginkgo biloba is a supplement that many companies claim to have benefits for brain health. Ginkgo biloba is an extract that comes from a ginkgo tree and is widely used in traditional Chinese therapies to treat a variety of illnesses. Ginkgo may also have effects on memory and cognition. Ginkgo has been revered in the past for its potential to slow the progression of dementia; however, many studies have shown that ginkgo does not prevent dementia or memory decline. Further research is necessary to establish additional benefits of ginkgo biloba to improve brain health.2

Melatonin – Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body. The main use of melatonin as a supplement is for insomnia and jet lag. Melatonin is a well-tolerated medication, with some reported side effects of dizziness, nausea, and headache.8

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Omega-3 fatty acids, or fish oil, can be consumed through a diet high in fatty fish and leafy green vegetables or by taking fish oil pill supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids act as antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties that act to preserve brain cells. It is important to note that a greater beneficial impact on brain health has been shown through consuming a diet high in fish as opposed to consuming fish oil supplements. Omega-3 Fatty Acids have also been discussed and used as a potential therapy for heart health.4

Please note this is not a comprehensive list of the uses of these supplements, the results proving or disproving their efficacy, or a complete list of their side effects.

Regulation in the United States

In 1994 the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, or DSHEA, was passed to regulate supplements and herbal products in the United States. This Act separated herbal products into a different class than drugs; therefore, giving herbal products separate requirements. Under DSHEA, labels on herbal products are required to state: “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” However, herbal product labels are still allowed to include health claims.

It is important for consumers to know the companies creating these products are not required to prove the efficacy, safety, or quality of their product before selling them. The FDA steps in to determine if a product is unsafe or ineffective. It is not uncommon to see supplements being removed from the market due to FDA regulations. Frequent episodes of adulteration and lack of product purity have been reported which raises further questions about the safety of supplements as a whole.

In 2007, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) were issued by the FDA as new rules for dietary supplements. Good Manufacturing Practices mandated that dietary supplements should be labeled properly, contain no adulterants, and be made according to certain standards for equipment and personnel. However, it is not clear how effective these new rules have been. Several citations for lack of GMPs have been issued to companies following FDA inspections. Furthermore, adulterated products continue to be found on the market.7


So, now we ask you after reading this article that should you add dietary supplements to your meal? If your answer is yes, then kindly visit our website for relevant dietary supplements.


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