Everything You Need to Know About Dietary Supplements

green tea.

In a perfect world, our diets would provide all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals we need to function at optimum levels. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. Many Americans fail to meet the dietary requirements outlined by the Institute of Medicine. This can leave you feeling fatigued, unproductive, and at risk for disease and infection due to a weakened immune system. This is where dietary supplements come into play. Supplements provide the nutrients our body’s need to function and those we do not always get through diet alone. Read on to discover additional information about these body boosters.

What’s in a Dietary Supplement?

Dietary supplements vary significantly and that is because not everyone’s deficiencies are the same. But most supplements include a combination of the following ingredients:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Enzymes
  • Amino acids
  • Herbs
  • Botanicals

Supplements come in a variety of forms as well including pills, tablets, capsules, and liquids.

Do Your Research

Because supplements are available over the counter and without a prescription, it is important to do your research before choosing and taking a supplement. It would be best to consult your primary care physician and discuss your current diet and potential supplemental needs. There can also be risks associated with supplements if you have a pre existing medical condition. Complications regarding blood pressure, pregnancy, and heart disease may occur. Make sure your doctor has a full list of all medications you are currently taking. This will ensure that the supplement you choose will not interfere with your current medicine.

Another great way to investigate a supplement before taking it is to read online reviews and frequently asked questions. You may find questions and answers that you would have never considered before. The more you know, the more informed your decision would be.

What Are the Benefits of Dietary Supplements? 

There are many benefits and reasons for taking a dietary supplement. The most common reason is that supplements are a fast and effective way to help balance your diet. Many people are either too busy or simply unable to eat all of the foods required to get the nutrients they need. These nutrient boosters are also beneficial for those individuals suffering from a deficiency or insufficiency that cannot be rectified by diet alone.

Another benefit to supplements is the wide range of varieties available. You can choose to take a multivitamin, which contains small doses of several different nutrients, or you can take a supplement that offers a specific dose of a specific element. This is the perfect option for individuals suffering from a single deficiency.

Things to Consider

It is important to note that although the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulates dietary supplements before they are placed on the market and sold, they treat them as foods, not medications. This means that companies are not required to show that supplements are “safe” for consumption the way they would any type of medication. This simply means the research portion of taking a supplement is equally as important as discussing the type and brand with your doctor. Keep in mind that dietary supplements do not cure, treat, prevent, or diagnose any diseases.

Just because certain dietary supplements offer a wide variety of vitamins and nutrients needed for overall health and well-being, this does not mean a supplement is enough. You still need to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet, which means eating a variety of foods rich in fiber, enzymes, antioxidants, and other vital nutrients.

The Different Types 

There are countless dietary supplements on the market. So much so, that it can get quite overwhelming. So how do you choose and which types are available? Here is a breakdown of some of the most common dietary supplements available.

Fish Oil

Fish Oil

Omega-3 fish contains important fatty acids and nutrients that can help manage and prevent heart disease, as well as lower blood pressure. Fish oil contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The most common way to ingest fish oil is through a pill but if you have the stomach for it, fish oil also comes in liquid form. 


Ginseng comes from the root of plants and is often tied to ancient Chinese medicine. Ginseng is a slow growing plant that is classified three ways – white, red, or fresh – depending on how long it’s grown. The two most common forms of this herb are American and Asian. So what are its benefits? Ginseng claims to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, increase energy levels, and help with relaxation.

           Garlic   In addition to warding off vampires, garlic is a common ingredient in many recipes but when taken as a supplement, this ingredient can provide a long list of health benefits. Garlic can help with certain medical conditions including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reducing a person’s risk of developing heart disease. Other benefits of garlic include fighting off common cold symptoms, combating the effects of Dementia, improved bone health, and a boost in athletic performance. 

St. John’s Wort 

St. John’s Wort is a flowering plant in the Hypericaceae and is most well known for treating anxiety and mild depression. This plant is also used to ease upset stomach, hemorrhoids, and fluid retention. If you are having trouble sleeping, St. John’s Wort may also help with insomnia. When used topically, this supplement can help reduce inflammation, burns, wounds, and help ease muscle and nerve pain and discomfort.

Green Tea

 green tea.Green tea is another popular supplement. In fact, it is one of the most popular and healthiest teas available. Green tea is packed with a long list of nutrients and antioxidants that provide countless benefits including fat loss, improved brain function, and is often linked to a lowered risk of developing certain cancers. And, because green tea comes in a beverage form, it is often extremely pleasant and easy to digest.


Gingko biloba (also known as simply gingko or ginkgo) and is most commonly used to help treat Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders. Gingko is a tree with large, flat leaves and is grown in many Asian regions including Korea, China, and Japan but is also grown in the United States and Europe. Gingko is often taken by mouth and can also treat other blood flow issues in the body.

If you think, your diet is lacking in specific nutrients and vitamins, ask your doctor to evaluate your current levels and recommend a daily, dietary supplement. You will soon feel the many benefits of feeding your body the nutrients it needs.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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