Important Facts About Supplementing Your Diet That You Should Know

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herbs and vegetables scattered across a tableNutritional Insurance is Tricky, Supplements can help

While your body may need certain supplements, nutritionists continue to have different opinions about what roles one-a-day supplements should play in a diet.

What counts as a supplement? Anything you add to your diet is a supplement.

When thinking about supplements, most people immediately imagine daily multivitamins and standalone vitamins. In reality, anything can be a supplement. Some people use bran as a natural laxative supplement. Others supplement their diets with flaxseed oil to increase the number of fatty acids that they get from food. The number of examples here could be endless. Let’s discuss a few other common supplements people add to their diets:

1. Herbs are Plants That You can use for Different Purposes

There are two big categories of herbs. The first one is culinary herbs that you can add to foods to improve their flavor and aroma. The herbs are different from vegetables because they are used in very tiny amounts. The second category is medicinal herbs. Most people use them for potential health benefits such as boosting immunity or preventing heart disease.

2. Probiotics are Tiny “bugs” that Live in Food

The idea behind taking probiotics is that if you eat them by consuming whole foods, you will increase the amount of good bacteria that you have in your body. Probiotics include yeasts and a variety of microorganisms that can help repopulate your intestines with the good guys.

A tip for buying good probiotics is to ask the store which of their probiotics come cold. Live probiotics have to be kept in the fridge, but some stores put the probiotics that don’t come cold in the freezer too. Make sure you’re getting the highest quality ones by purchasing ones that have remained cold even though travel.

Scientific studies suggest that probiotics may help you restore the amounts of bacteria you have in your intestines after you take antibiotics to fight various infections. Antibiotics typically kill both bad and good bacteria while probiotics restore the amounts of good bacteria in the body. Probiotics can also be beneficial to the prevention and treatment of eczema, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.

While taking certain herbs may come with risks, probiotics are considered pretty much risk-free. However, more research is needed about the role probiotics play when used by young people, senior citizens, and people with lacking immune systems.

Federal Regulations About Marketing and Sales of Nutritional Supplements are Very Lackluster

For this reason, you always want to do some research of your own when it comes to buying probiotics, medicinal herbs, or supplements. The regulations are very different from those that cover prescription drugs or even over-the-counter medications. Companies can market nutritional supplements, probiotics, and herbs without having to prove their safety or effectiveness.

There are a few reliable sources to verify different claims and read up on medical studies and their results. Some of the resources that will keep you up-to-date and provide you with accurate information include the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, and MedlinePlus, a service of the United States Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Vitamins do not Provide You with Energy on Their Own

Vitamins and nutrients help your body function properly, but they don’t give it any energy on their own.  Only macronutrients do that. Macronutrients include fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

This means that taking a bunch of vitamins is not a replacement for eating food. You can never reach your full nutrition needs on vitamins and supplements alone.

When in Doubt, Talk to Your Doctor

We aren’t medical experts. If you’re trying to discover which supplements are best for your own personal needs, talk to a doctor and/or a certified nutritionist.

This is especially important if you have a medical condition, take medications, are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are thinking about surgery. Don’t trust the claims you see on the packages of probiotics, herbs, and supplements. Do your research or talk to your doctor, or even better do both.

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