Supplements are dietary products available in the form of tablets, capsules, soft gels, or powders which assist people in meeting their recommended requirements for vitamins and minerals. They also aid various health conditions and help reduce the risk of chronic disease. Supplements are typically made up of vitamins, minerals, and herbs or other components which provide both nutritional value and promote better all-around health.
Most everyone can take supplements and it is highly recommended for those who don’t receive enough nutrients from their food or those who require additional nutrients for assisting special health concerns, such as cancer, diabetes, pregnancy, or anemia, to take some form of supplement. Supplements are taken often by athletes and those who wish to maximize their strength and fitness.
As reported by the CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, over 75% of people in the US take at least one dietary supplement on a regular basis and supplement use is most commonly found among adults within the age range of 35 to 54 years old. The most popular supplements consumed by Americans include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, probiotics, athletic-based supplements, herbal and botanical supplements, and weight-loss products.
No matter your health background or level of fitness, there are supplements available to help all kinds of health issues and concerns. Let’s explore the many benefits and types of supplements available on the market today in order to help you evaluate which ones would be best for you in your journey to living a healthier life.
Benefits of Dietary Supplements
Dietary supplements provide a vast amount of benefits which range from helping athletes reach their fitness goals all the way to aiding with health issues such as weight loss, trouble sleeping, and even anxiety.
The following are some of the major benefits associated with the of use of supplements.
Meeting Nutritional/Dietary Requirements
Most Americans do not meet their average daily requirements for nutrition through diet alone. Supplements allow people to help meet their recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) and adequate intakes (AIs) for micronutrients, macrominerals, and microminerals.
Enhancing Athletic Training and Performance
Athletes are always seeking an edge over their competition especially when it comes to taking the right supplements for aiding their training and performance. Athletic supplements generally aid muscle contraction, provide additional energy and focus, and increase blood flow.
Aiding Weight Loss
Some supplements help people to shed body fat through raising their basal metabolic rate or through reducing their appetite.
Increasing Energy and Focus
Supplements may increase energy and focus through acting as stimulants, assisting digestion, or providing cells with enough energy to carry out normal metabolic processes.
Reducing Anxiety and Stress
Some kinds of supplements are able to reduce anxiety and stress through aiding the body’s stress response system, better regulating circadian rhythm, lowering body temperature, or through inhibiting the breakdown of neurotransmitters.
Promoting Better Digestion and Gut Health
Products such as probiotics, herbs, and amino acids may improve digestive properties and allow gut microflora to flourish through providing or supporting good forms of bacteria, relaxing intestinal muscles, or aiding the absorption of excess water and minerals.
Aiding Prostate and Urinary Health
Supplements may aid both prostate and urinary health through assisting the flow of urine, reducing inflammation, and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria while allowing healthy bacteria to prosper.
Controlling Blood Sugar
There are several supplements on the market today which aid blood sugar issues through improving insulin sensitivity and secretion, promoting pancreatic cell growth and maintenance, or through enhancing the uptake of sugar from the blood and transferring it into muscles.
Whether its filling in the holes of nutritional gaps or assisting with health conditions, such as diabetes or obesity, supplements can certainly aid most areas within health and wellness. People who generally benefit the most from taking supplements include pregnant women, aging adults, people with restrictive diets, those who have food allergies or intolerances, and those who suffer from chronic disease.
List of Dietary Supplements
Here are some of the most commonly taken supplements along with their primary health benefits.
|Probiotics||Improve Gut Health and Digestion|
|Potassium||Improves Muscle and Organ Function|
|Fenugreek||Lowers Blood Sugar|
|Gaba (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)||Improves Mental Health|
|NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)||Antioxidant Properties|
|Nitric Oxide||Enhances Blood Circulation|
|Melatonin||Promotes Better Sleep|
|Pre-Workout||Enhances Athletic Performance|
|Cranberry||Aids Urinary Health|
|Creatine||Promotes Muscular Strength|
|Coq10 Ubiquinol||Aids Immune System|
|Milk Thistle||Antioxidant Properties|
|Iron||Supports Blood Cells|
|Polyphenols||Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties|
|Fiber||Aids Bowel Movements|
|Fish Oil||Promotes Cognitive Function|
Dietary Supplements Side Effects
Although supplements provide a wide realm of health benefits for most people they may cause side effects in some cases. Side effects of most supplements are generally minor or temporary and usually will resolve within a short amount of time. However, some side effects may be more serious, especially if they interact with other supplements or medications, and might require immediate medical attention.
Here are some of the most common side effects that may be experienced with taking the previously mentioned supplements. It should be noted that most of the following side effects are only experienced when users consume more than the recommended dose or if individuals have specific allergies or intolerances.
|Supplement||Possible Side Effects|
|Coq10 Ubiquinol||Allergic Reaction|
|Creatine||NauseaLight-Headedness HeadachesThrobbing SensationMigraines|
|Curcumin||Abdominal/Gastrointestinal DiscomfortUpset Stomach/DiarrheaOral Burning SensationAcid Reflux/Heartburn|
|Fenugreek||Upset Stomach/DiarrheaBelching and Gas|
|Fiber||Upset Stomach/DiarrheaBelching and GasBloating|
|Fish Oil||Upset Stomach/Diarrhea|
|GABA||Heart PalpitationsShortness of BreathIncreased Hunger|
|Iron||Belching and Gas|
|Milk Thistle||Acid Reflux/Heartburn|
|Polyphenols||Increased Heart RateTingling Sensation/ItchingHeadachesThrobbing SensationMigraines|
|Potassium||SwellingRashVomitingSevere DizzinessTrouble BreathingIrregular HeartbeatHeaviness in LimbsMuscle WeaknessFeeling LimpNauseaAbdominal/Gastrointestinal DiscomfortUpset Stomach/DiarrheaChest Pain|
|Pre-Workout||Upset Stomach/DiarrheaTingling Sensation/ItchingHeadachesThrobbing SensationMigraines|
|Probiotics||Abdominal/Gastrointestinal DiscomfortUpset Stomach/Diarrhea|
Pros of Dietary Supplements
The use of supplements generally leads to better overall health and promotes the function of a realm of bodily systems.
The major pros associated with taking supplements, especially from those previously listed, include:
- Ensuring that micronutrient and nutritional needs are met
- Enhancing fitness and physique goals
- Reducing the effects from aging
- Improving overall quality of life
- Giving athletes an edge over their competition
- Increasing focus and promoting clarity
- Enhancing organ system function
- Reducing the risk of chronic disease or other health conditions
- Improving digestion
- Improving sleep quality
- Giving the immune system an overall boost
Cons of Dietary Supplements
Although the use of supplements tends to come with many benefits, there may be some negative effects of their use. Some of the cons associated with taking supplements include:
- Paying high prices for certain products
- Receiving limited servings of a product from a single purchase
- Some supplements may provide no benefit or result in negative side effects
- Relying on supplementation alone for meeting health needs may promote making poor food or lifestyle choices
- Some supplements may interact with, amplify the effects of, or negate the benefits of certain medications and other supplements
Best Vitamin Quiz
For those who are curious as to which vitamins and supplements they may need to take in order to reach their health and fitness goals there are several online resources available to help in respect to finding the best products available for meeting individualized needs and concerns.
Vitamin and supplement quizzes along with product reviews may be found at the following websites in order to discover which supplements may benefit your health the most:
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). What You Need to Know about Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/what-you-need-know-about-dietary-supplements
ConsumerLab. com. (2010). Survey of vitamin and supplement users. Available at: http://www.consumerlab.com/news/Supplement_Survey_Report/1_31_2010
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/
Dietary supplements. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm153239.htm. Accessed Aug. 8, 2017
Dietary Supplement Use Reaches All Time High – Available-for-purchase consumer survey reaffirms the vital role supplementation plays in the lives of most Americans. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.crnusa.org/newsroom/dietary-supplement-use-reaches-all-time-high-available-purchase-consumer-survey-reaffirms
Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know. (2020, January 15). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/DS_WhatYouNeedToKnow.aspx
Fairfield KM. Vitamin supplementation in disease prevention. https://uptodate.com/content/sources. Accessed Aug. 8, 2017.
Féart, C. (2020). Dietary Supplements: Which Place between Food and Drugs? Nutrients, 12(1), 204. doi: 10.3390/nu12010204
Lehman, S. (2019, June 25). Benefits and Risks of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit.com/benefits-and-risks-of-taking-dietary-supplements-2506547
Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx
Pittler, M. H., & Ernst, E. (2003). Kava extract for treating anxiety. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 1, CD003383. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003383.
Supplements: Nutrition in a pill? (2017, October 25). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/supplements/art-20044894
Sydenham, E., Dangour, A. D., & Lim, W. S. (2012). Omega 3 fatty acid for the prevention of cognitive decline and dementia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 6, CD005379. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD005379.pub3.