Should you take dietary supplements?

We all have supplement bottles on our night stands or our dining tables. Leading a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise has indeed become the new cool. While many of us strive to be our fittest selves, we often tend to follow certain things merely because we hear they are good. Consuming supplements may work for your friend’s body, but it is really necessary to take them?

What are dietary supplements?

Dietary supplements are consumed to make up for the deficiencies in your body. These are the vitamins, omega- 3, calcium tablets or multivitamin tablets which are often prescribed by your doctor. They can be vitamins, minerals, iron, amino acids, or even herbs. Dietary supplements often come in capsule, tablet, powder or liquid form which can be consumed after or before your meal.

In recent years, since the health market has boomed, dietary supplements have become a habit. With many brands bringing in supplements that promise to cure you, it is important to understand the function of a dietary supplement. Dietary supplements are not drugs but food items that cannot claim to cure, treat or prevent any kind of disease. Their sole purpose is to take care of the deficiency in your body. Hence, it is safe to say that they are not medicines that will help you get rid of any disease.

Who should consume dietary supplements?

Dietary supplements are ideally meant for people who have any kind of deficiency which their food habits are not able to fulfill. There can be various factors for the same; these can range from age, stressful life or simply bad eating habits.

Experts speak

Many marketing strategies have, however, made us believe that everyone needs supplements in today’s age.

Experts feel that if one is consuming dietary supplements then it should not be as a substitute or shortcut for a healthy diet. “It is required to take dietary supplements as our modern day diets are not able to meet all nutrition requirements. However, you should not consume them without a doctor’s prescription,” says nutritionist Dr Sonia Narang.

According to nutritionist Dr Madhvi Sharma, even supplements would fail to work in your body if you do not set your diet right. “There is no point in popping pills if your diet is not in place. Moreover, your sleep pattern, eating pattern, lifestyle pattern everything makes a huge impact on how supplements would work on your body,” she adds.

Similarly, Dr Narang agrees that consumption of a rainbow diet, wherein you include vegetables and fruits in your diet on a daily basis is necessary for a healthy body.

For Dr Renu Garg, a homeopathic practitioner and a nutritionist, those suffering with a deficiency would definitely need supplements. She says, “If you do not eat the right kinds of food, deficiency is bound to happen. Hence, supplements are needed. Having said that, I would rather have my patient treat their deficiency with food than with supplements.”

Dr Garg gives two reasons as to why food would work better than a supplement for inadequate nutrients in the body. Firstly, food will not give you allergies which supplements might and secondly, absorption of food is better than that of supplements.

“We do not need dietary supplements until and unless specified under medical guidance. This is because supplements do not suit every body and we are never assured of the quality of the product we will be consuming,” says nutritionist Dr Mansi Chatrath.

Dr Chatrath also talks about how our body naturally does not need supplements and should get its absorption power from the foods we consume. She mentions about the capacity levels of our body and how they can differ from person to person.

Buying supplements off the shelf is a big no-no according to experts and should always be started with proper medical guidance.

Dr Sharma gives the added reason of stress which is the sole origin of such nutrient deficiencies today. She says, “Stress can add to all sorts of problems. At times like this, it is important to consume things such as antioxidants, which can help a great deal. Always consult a clinical practitioner before starting any supplements.”

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