Should You Add Dietary Supplements To Your Diet?

Here's everything you need to know if you are considering adding dietary supplements to your daily routine.

Should You Add Dietary Supplements To Your Diet?

Prolonged and unnecessary consumption of dietary supplements can cause damage to our kidneys

What are dietary supplements?

Dietary supplements are tablets, capsules, pills, or syrups we consume to increase our intake of various nutrients. Dietary supplements can include various minerals, enzymes, herbs, vitamins, etc. As the name suggests, these pills act as supplements for various healthy foods.

Do we need dietary supplements?

Dietary supplements are often consumed to meet our needs for certain nutrients. Many people might consume supplements daily to boost their consumption of nutrients. However, in most cases, dietary supplements are to be consumed in case of a deficiency of certain nutrients.

Ideally, we must consume our nutritional needs through nutritious foods and a healthy diet. As discussed, dietary supplements must always be treated as a supplement to healthy food and not an alternative. In this article, we discuss situations under which one should or should not come from dietary supplements.

Who should consume dietary supplements?

There are various situations under which you may be encouraged to consume dietary supplements. Let's list common conditions under which a doctor might prescribe a dietary supplement.

Reasons why you may be prescribed dietary supplements:

1. 50 or older in age

When we are over the age of 50 our bodies' ability to absorb nutrients from our food slows down.

2. Pregnant

If you are planning to or are pregnant. Most pregnant women experience deficiencies such as anaemia and require more nutrients.

3. Have a condition

If you have a certain condition you might be prescribed dietary supplements. Some of these conditions are liver diseases, cystic fibrosis, alcohol dependence, cancer, autoimmune diseases, etc.

4. Digestive system surgery

If you had a digestive system-related surgery you may be prescribed dietary supplements as your body might have trouble digesting food.

5. Nutrient deficiencies

In case you are suffering from a particular nutrient deficiency. The lack of a particular nutrient may be curbed through the respective dietary supplement.

6. If you follow a restrictive diet

If you are consuming a restricted diet under professional guidance. You might require certain dietary supplements to provide you with the nutrients your diet is lacking.

Why shouldn't I consume dietary supplements?

There are various reasons why taking dietary supplements can be more harmful than helpful. Here are certain things to keep in mind if you are planning to add dietary supplements to your diet:

1. Unreliable

Medications we consume need to go under certain tests and verifications in order to get approved by government bodies. These stamps of approval ensure that these dietary supplements are fit for consumption. You must be mindful and not opt for dietary supplements that lack these verifications.

2. Misleading

In order to increase their profitability, various dietary supplements companies might endorse these dietary supplements are necessary or ‘natural'. It is important to be cautious of such dietary supplements that you don't require.

3. If not prescribed

The best to know whether you need dietary supplements or not is to talk to a health professional. In case you are planning to try dietary supplements, talk to your doctor regarding the reasons you might need them. Only consume dietary supplements if a doctor believes you need them.

4. Side effects

Like most medications, dietary supplements also have various short-term and long-term side effects. Some of the less harmful side effects are nausea, headaches, dizziness, etc. However, certain dietary supplements have proven to cause severe damage to our kidneys. The medications we orally consume travel through our kidneys in order to be absorbed. This may cause damage to our kidneys over time.

Why is a healthy diet better than dietary supplements?

As mentioned in the beginning, dietary supplements are not a solution to ensure you consume all the nutrients you need. Here are certain ways in which a healthy diet is healthier than depending on dietary supplements:

1. Antioxidants

Antioxidants are extremely helpful in repairing our cells. They aid the growth of cells in our bodies and cannot be extracted from dietary supplements. Many foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, etc. are rich in antioxidants and promote better overall health.

2. Better nutrition

A dietary supplement often focuses on providing one or few nutrients. There are various complex nutrients and micronutrients that healthy food provides us with which cannot be procured through dietary supplements.

3. Rich in fibre

You might be able to consume ample nutrients from dietary supplements but they seriously lack fibre. Fibre is extremely important to ensure our food gets digested properly. It has many other benefits which our bodies need.

What's the takeaway?

If you fall under any of the categories under which you can consume dietary supplements, you are encouraged to talk to your doctor about the same. Although dietary supplements can be bought without a prescription, it is ideal to only consume them if prescribed by a health professional.

The most effective and safe way to ensure you consume the nutrients you need is by eating a well-balanced diet rich in foods that have all the nutrients you need. Exercising regularly also improves the absorption of nutrients you consume.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.