Pros and Cons of Dietary Supplements

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What are dietary supplements? Dietary supplements are nutrients in an easy to take form, usually a pill, an energy drink, or power bars (NIH, 2017). These pills are concentrated versions of nutrients that are found in foods, but are difficult to get in any high amounts. The concentration of the supplement is effected by the binders and fillers that the supplement contains (NIH, 2017). The effectiveness of a supplement is only achieved when the body actually absorbs what is being put in it. Sometimes, the supplements may have a concentrated amount of nutrients, but the taker of the supplement only receives a portion of what the supplement contains. A person needs to have a healthy diet for the supplements to be effective (NIH, 2017).

Are micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) supplements healthy? Why or why not? Micronutrient supplements are “complex” products (NIH, 2017). These products are effected by the quality of the product, the nonessential ingredients, such as the fillers. The products are effected by packaging, for some may break down faster than others: “A supplement’s safety depends on many things, such as its chemical makeup, how it works in the body, how it is prepared, and the dose used: (Nutrition.gov, 2017). There are healthy supplements, but sometimes it is unhealthy for a person to rely on these supplements.

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The reason that the supplements are healthy is that there are valuable nutrients that the supplement can deliver which are difficult to find in a natural diet. However, the reason that supplements are unhealthy is that these supplements can mislead a person to think that they do not need a balanced diet since the supplement will compensate. Also, there are interactions between supplements and medicine which can be dangerous (Nutrition.gov, 2017).

Discuss three (3) valid reasons for using micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) supplements. There are valid reasons for needing a supplement. Possibly, one is unable to absorb enough B vitamin through normal food intake, and therefore the B supplement is necessary. OR if a person is a vegetarian, and needs to get amino acids and protein supplements. Another valid reason would be for a pregnant woman who wants to take prenatal pills in order to up the intake of folic acid. These are all legitimate reasons to want to take a supplement. It is important for all of these people to receive the dietary mineral content that they require, which is difficult to get in a natural diet.

Do you use dietary supplements? If so, what benefit are you obtaining from them? If not, would you benefit from adding them? Why or why not? I take a multivitamin. I think that I do derive a benefit from these supplements, but I am aware that I need to keep my diet in check in order for the supplements to have any effect. I think that taking the multivitamin tops off a balanced diet, but should not be a substitute for it. The number of vitamins that I receive from the multivitamin makes me feel that I am taking care of myself. I also drink energy drinks when I need a boost, and these have lots of vitamins. The caffeine that is in the drinks helps keep me alert, and this is a benefit.

Finally, consider the following statement: “It is better to get vitamins and minerals from food rather than from supplements.” Discuss whether you agree or disagree. I completely agree with the statement that it is better to get our vitamins and minerals naturally. However, in some cases, increased need for specific rare vitamins and minerals can be resolved by taking supplements. Therefore, although it is better to get our nutrients naturally, it is better to get the nutrients that we need. Sometimes, a supplement is the best way to replace what nature cannot provide.

  • National Institute of Health (NIH). (2017). Dietary supplements: What you need to know. US Dept. Of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/DS_WhatYouNeedToKnow.aspx
  • Nutrition.gov Editors. (2017). Dietary supplements. Nutrition.gov. Retrieved from https://www.nutrition.gov/dietary-supplements

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