Benefits of Dietary Supplements
Written by Ben: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition.
Dietary supplements are rising in popularity due to the multitude of health benefits they can provide. They are becoming a staple in many diets across the world. 1
Due to the hundreds of dietary supplements that exist, it can be overwhelming to find which may work for you. Or, it can be confusing which to take for the best benefits. Thus, this article will cover everything you need to know in regards to the benefits of dietary supplements. Plus, the best dietary supplements and ingredients for the benefits.
We shall cover the following details in this article:
- Dietary supplements definition
- Improve sleep
- Lower cholesterol
- Bowel health
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Final note
Dietary Supplements Definition
First, let’s begin with what dietary supplements are and how they work.
Dietary supplements are consumable products that can replace or increase the nutrients in your diet. These can be taken in a variety of ways including capsules, gummies, pills, drinks, and tablets. These are to be taken in addition to your usual diet, or as a replacement for a lacking nutrient. Athletes and people, in general, should always take a ‘food first approach to nutrition. 2
For instance, if you eat a plant-based diet, you will eliminate meat, poultry, and dairy products from your diet. Eliminating fish can reduce the amount of omega-3 fatty acids your body receives. The body needs omega-3’s to reduce inflammation and inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease and arthritis. 3
Therefore, to prevent the risk of developing these diseases, you will need to consume omega-3’s another way, such as through taking supplements.
Replacing nutrients is just one of the many benefits of dietary supplements. People of most ages and all lifestyles can consume dietary supplements to reap the benefits. If you wonder if and how they can benefit you, here is more on the benefits of dietary supplements.
Several dietary supplements can be consumed to improve sleep. No matter if you suffer from insomnia or irregular sleeping patterns, using chamomile or melatonin supplements can help relax the mind and the body and aid you to sleep better.
For instance, melatonin is a natural hormone that your body produces to promote sleep. It works to tell your body it is time to sleep by regulating your sleep-wake cycle.4
Your body can be deprived of melatonin due to a lack of sun exposure or melatonin-rich foods, such as fish, eggs, milk, and goji berries. If you lack these melatonin-boosting ingredients or lifestyle habits, you may have a poor sleeping pattern. Thus, a dietary supplement can improve sleep and the sleep-wake cycle.
Treat mental health issues
Many herbal dietary supplements can help treat and manage mental health issues. Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression can be caused due to a non-nutritious diet. As an example, eating lots of fatty and sugary foods often found in a western diet is associated with a high risk of depression.5
It is important to maintain a nutritious diet to reduce the development of such issues. Yet, these issues can be further prevented through dietary supplements. For instance, Ashwagandha is a plant-derived nutrient that has been used for centuries to treat anxiety.
It is often taken as capsules to help manage and reduce stress and anxiety-related symptoms. Its active ingredients can decrease cortisol levels, which can improve and sustain a better quality of life.6
A happier mood can eliminate the symptoms of depression. When taken consistently, this mood and a reduced feeling of depressive symptoms may be able to be maintained.
Diet is a big part of heart health. If your diet lacks nutrients that regulate heart health, you could be faced with high cholesterol, heart disease, and artery issues.
Dietary supplements that are profound for their heart health benefits include foods associated with a Mediterranean-type diet.7 When a person integrates these dietary choices into their nutrition or uses dietary supplements including vitamins and minerals sourced from these foods, their cholesterol levels can reduce or maintain at a healthy level. If your diet restricts or consumes a small number of such nutrients, supplements can be a good substitute.
Promote regular bowel movements
Irregular bowel movements can be a cause of a poor diet or lifestyle routine, or due to medical conditions. If you suffer from irregular bowels, you may benefit from consuming dietary supplements.
If your diet lacks fiber, you should increase your fiber intake and consider fibrous supplements. Fiber-rich supplements can help regulate bowel movement, whether you suffer from diarrhea or constipation.8
Proper nutrition along with maintaining hydration and some supplements can help aid digestion, for an improved digestive cycle.
Speaking of the regulation of nutrient breakdown, slow metabolism is a common issue. A slow metabolism can be caused by skipping meals, medical conditions, hormone imbalances, age, and even sleep.9 Your metabolism can be improved by a healthy and balanced diet, as well as taking dietary supplements. To stimulate and maintain a good metabolism, it is beneficial to consider both.
Dietary supplements that contain caffeine and green tea have some scientific backing that shows they can stimulate metabolism and kickstart nutrient and fat burning.10 This can prevent the risk of weight gain, depleting muscles, and poor sleep.
Heal the skin
Dietary supplements provide more benefits than just the inside of the body and the mind. They can also help improve the skin. It can be easy to develop skin issues with a poor diet, lack of exercise, and poor lifestyle habits.11 Thus, eliminating bad habits, eating a good diet, and taking supplements can help significantly improve the skin.
Healthy skin is better at healing and preventing skin issues, such as acne or dermatitis. Fish oil, vitamin D, collagen, and vitamin A12 are just a few dietary supplements that can help improve the skin’s health.
Reducing inflammation is important for many bodily functions. It can help with reducing skin issues, treating inflammatory joint diseases, heart conditions, and neurogenerative diseases just to name a few.
Dietary supplements can help reduce inflammation throughout the body to avoid, treat, or manage health conditions. These include vitamin E, omega-3, vitamin K, and vitamin D. 13 Although these dietary ingredients can be found in foods, they may be restricted for certain people, in the case of vitamin D people may not get enough sun and it has limited availability in foods. Or, a person may wish to double their intake of the ingredients to enhance the effects. Thus, taking a dietary supplement to attain this benefit is ideal.
Avoid nutrient deficiencies
One of the key reasons to take dietary supplements is to avoid nutrient deficiencies. Many eating and lifestyle choices can mean certain food groups are eliminated from diets. A vegan, for example, eliminate all meat and fish produce from their diets. Meat and fish are rich in essential nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and more, which are needed to prevent health conditions and maintain good health. A such a person on a plant-based diet may which to include a B12, iron, and zinc supplement in their diet.14
Omega-3’s are a common nutrient that vegetarian or vegan diets lack. Omega-3’s are an essential nutrient for reducing inflammation, improving mood, increasing energy, and enhancing the oxygen supply within the body.15 Thus, taking omega-3 dietary supplements can help a person attain these benefits without having to reintroduce the food sources into the diet, which could go against their lifestyle choices. Therefore, unless you keep a close eye on your intake as a vegan, we strongly recommend that you take a number of supplements to keep your health in check.
Restore energy, reduce fatigue and improve cognition
A lack of energy can have negative effects on the mind and body. It can cause depression, a lack of motivation to exercise, and reduce productivity. It can also cause an increase in fat storage, which can cause weight gain and potentially heart conditions. To avoid a lack of energy, the body must consume certain nutrients.
B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C are just a few dietary nutrients that are essential for increased energy. If your diet lacks that, or you need an extra boost of energy, you can benefit from taking dietary supplements with these micronutrients.16
However, let’s not forget the macronutrients that provide our main sources of energy, these are carbohydrates, fats and protein. As a result, many functional foods geared towards sports include protein bars and electrolyte drinks or gels which can help improve the performance of an athlete.17
As you can see, there is an abundance of health benefits that dietary supplements can offer. From reducing inflammatory diseases to treating mental health issues, consumers can attain a variety of benefits depending on which supplement they choose to take.
If you wish to obtain several health benefits but do not wish to consume lots of daily supplements, there are combined supplements that contain multiple ingredients. For instance, a sports supplement can often contain other vitamins, such as A, C, and E, which can offer the consumer to attain the following benefits – healthy bones, prevent the risk of heart disease, and treatment for skin issues.
Before consuming supplements, it is important to assess your health. Certain medications or medical conditions can contraindicate with certain vitamins, minerals, botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes. Instead of improving your overall health and attaining the benefits, consuming supplements could worsen your health. Thus, be careful before taking supplements and ensure they are safe for you to take.
Most dietary supplements should be taken on a full stomach. Taking supplements on an empty stomach can increase the risk of side effects. The most common side effects are mild and include nausea, stomach cramps, weakness, toilet troubles, and bloating. If these side effects occur and persist, it is best to stop taking the supplements and seek medical help. However, side effects are not overly common and most people are safe to consume dietary supplements that contain natural ingredients.
If you are looking to improve your health and reap the benefits certain supplements can offer, then you can benefit from taking such ingredients.