Food supplements are products that people use to add nutrients or other compounds to their bodies.
From individual vitamins and minerals to mixtures of nutrients and herbs, there are many dietary supplements on the market that claim to provide specific health benefits.
However, due to limited regulation, it's not always clear which high-quality dietary supplements are, or which ones are a waste of money or even potentially dangerous.
This article covers everything you need to know about supplements and how to choose a safe, high-quality product.
What are proprietary supplements, vitamins, minerals and blends?
Supplements are products that are taken orally and contain a "food ingredient" such as vitamins, minerals, herbs and plants, amino acids, enzymes, probiotics, antioxidants, or other nutrients. .
Available in many forms, including capsules, gums, tinctures, powders, and liquids, dietary supplements are typically marketed as an easy and effective way to boost your physical or mental health.
Here are some other important definitions to understand when talking about dietary supplements:
- Vitamins. Vitamins are essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly and stay healthy. Many of them help regulate vital metabolic functions, including growth, nerve function and digestion.
Fat soluble vitamins. These vitamins dissolve in fat and can be stored in your body. They include vitamins A, D, E and K.
Water soluble vitamins. These vitamins dissolve in water and are not stored by the body. They include vitamins C and B.
- The minerals. Minerals are inorganic elements that are essential for specific bodily functions, such as growth, bone health, and fluid balance.
- Patented blend. A proprietary blend is a unique combination of ingredients created by a dietary supplement manufacturer. Often, it is difficult to know from the label how much of each ingredient the mixture contains.
For most healthy people, it is possible to get all the vitamins and minerals you need just through food. However, there are certain conditions, medications, and circumstances in which supplements may be necessary to meet nutritional needs.
The fact remains that dietary supplements are designed to supplement, not replace, nutrients or other compounds in your diet.
This means that even if you are taking a supplement, it is important to eat a varied and balanced diet if possible.