NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT DEFINITIONThe American Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements as they do not recognize supplementation as a medical drug or a food product that falls under their jurisdiction. The American Food and Drug Administration does prohibit the sale or use of a supplement once it has been proven dangerous or harmful.
Dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and herbs are taken to increase the dietary intake. Multivitamins are a supplement most often taken to help ensure that the diet an individual is eating is more balanced and well rounded. Herbal supplements are most often taken when it is believed that herb can influence a physical ailment, such as St. John’s Wort is often taken as a mood stabilizer. The vast majority of dietary supplements are consumed by the American people to expedite or encourage weight loss. Most reputable medical reviews have concluded that while some weight loss dietary supplements may help with initial weight loss, the main ingredient in most of these supplements is caffeine. Caffeine is an appetite suppressant as well as an “energy booster,” but often does not assist beyond the first five pounds of initial weight loss.
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Dietary supplements such as calcium are effective for helping individuals retain higher levels of calcium in their diet. Calcium is important for bone structure throughout an entire lifespan. A lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis and brittle bones in the elderly, and thus many women in particular take a daily calcium dietary supplement.
European restrictions on dietary supplements are more stringent than they are in the United States. European dietary supplements must be proven safe in quality, as well as determined safe in quantity to prevent things like vitamin overdose which can be harmful and in some cases lethal.
In Europe and the United States, dietary supplements that go beyond supportive health are controversial. Many dietary supplements use carefully worded claims to suggest to consumers that the supplementation can prevent specific diseases and cure other diseases. These are radical and often dangerous claims without solid evidence. Since supplementation is not governed by any medical agency, there is little to no way of proving these theories within a reasonable doubt.
Dietary supplementation is only as safe as the consumer makes himself aware. For instance, dietary supplements which contain high amounts of caffeine should indicate that the consumer reduce their daily intake of other sources of caffeine.
NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT COMPLICATIONSToo much caffeine can cause insomnia, irregular heart rhythms, and constipation and dehydration. Many “energy boosting” dietary supplements contain high levels of vitamin B. Vitamin B is excellent for energy, mood, and other variable factors, but too much vitamin B urinary, skin, and other health problems. Too much calcium or iron are considered the most dangerous to overdose on, and many supplements contain at least one or both of these minerals. Iron or calcium overdoses can lead to muscle pain and weakness, heart problems, urinary tract problems, irritability, weight loss over long periods of time, and even the possibility of convulsions.
NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT PREVENTIONDietary supplements can be a good way to round out a diet and aim for a healthier lifestyle provided the consumer is willing to self educate. Dietary supplements can support nutritional health which in turn can prevent diseases. Dietary supplements should never be used in place of food or as a sole means of maintaining good health. All consumers should check with their primary physician prior to beginning a dietary supplement regimen. Consumers should review the list of ingredients before taking any dietary supplement and should be aware of how much the daily recommendation for each ingredient is before taking any new supplements. It is important to factor in the dietary requirements a consumer receives from their daily intake of food.