It's essential to understand that nutritional and dietary supplements are proposed to supplement your diet. And that they can never substitute wholesome nutritious foods. A nutritional supplement is a scientifically manufactured product designed to augment the diet when consumed orally either as a pill, powder, capsule, tablet, or liquid.
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) defines the term “dietary supplement” to mean a product (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet that bears or contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients: a vitamin, a mineral, an herb or other botanical, an amino acid, a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake, or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of any of the aforementioned ingredients.
A supplement furnishes essential nutrients either extracted naturally or synthetically, independently or in combination, so as to proliferate nutrient consumption. The Major nutrient groups are:-
- Protein ( Dairy or Plant derived)
- Vitamins (vitamins A, C, D, E, K, Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid(B5), VitaminB6, Biotin (B7) Folate(B9) and Vitamin B12),
- Minerals (potassium, chlorine, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, iodine, chromium, molybdenum, selenium and
- Fibre, fatty acids and amino acids.
Dietary supplements can also contain substances that have not been confirmed as being essential to life but have beneficial biological effect, such as plant pigments or polyphenols. These are also sold individually or in combination with other nutrient ingredients. The supplement industry was estimated to have a value of $37 billion in 2015, as more than 50,000 dietary supplement companies market their products in the United States alone, where about 50% of the American adult population consumes dietary supplements.
Certain population groups are suggested to take specific supplements depending upon their needs. The overarching message is to follow a healthy and balanced diet. Whenever subscribing to supplements, carefully assess the labels of supplements and fortified foods. Avoid supplements with mischievous ingredients or chemicals & opt for ones that are plant based or wholefood derived. In case of doubt, it is pertinent to seek advice from an expert, a nutritionist or medical doctor before opting for a dietary supplement.
There are a few important thumb rules to which one must adhere before choosing any dietary or nutritional supplement:
- Always opt for reputed trusted brands that have had a credible market presence for some time.
- Be wary of false and exaggerated advertising when buying supplements. Check with an expert to understand the science behind the claims
- Check the nutrition label and ask for lab reports in case of protein, nutrient claims
- Opt for plant based or herbal supplements that are safe for consumption on a longer run.
Mihir Gadani, co-founder of OZiva