A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS
What are nutritional supplements?
The very name “nutritional supplements” says much more, but not everyone pays enough attention to these two words. Nutritional supplements are just that – a supplement to food. They can supplement your diet if for one reason or another there are gaps in it.
Some products, such as whey protein, for example, can be viewed as powdered foods. In the process of making cheese, one of its constituents is separated from milk, which is called whey and is transformed from a liquid to a powdered state through an additional production process.
Other products are an isolated substance from a food or plant. L-carnitine, for example, is an amino acid naturally contained in meat. Creatine is also a substance that is found mainly in meat.
WHAT ARE NOT NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS?
In our practice, we often also come across people whose opinion on nutritional supplements is quite different. For various reasons, such as incorrect media information or more specific packaging, supplements are often confused with steroids or so-called “chemistry”.
You need to know that:
Nutritional supplements have nothing to do with steroids. Steroids are derivatives of the male sex hormone testosterone and although nowadays often used in professional and non-professional sports, their proper place is in medicine.
Here is another point that nutritional supplements are not – they are not medicine. Supplements contain nutrients and are intended to supplement food while medicines are chemicals used in the manipulation, treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a disease. Although in certain situations medicines and supplements have touch points, there is a difference and it is significant.
WHAT TYPES OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS ARE THERE?
Once you have an idea of what supplements are and are not, let us introduce you to their types.
Under the category of nutritional supplements you will find various types of products, which can be divided according to their purpose and nature. The most basic types of dietary supplements are:
WHAT CAN THEY BENEFIT ME FROM?
Nutritional supplements are optional for no one. Everything that is offered in the form of a nutritional supplement can actually be obtained through food. However, this does not mean that they are completely superfluous and useless.
Some people have the opportunity to devote more time and attention to all the details of their diet and exercise. If you are not among them, and for reasons of daily life or other personal reasons, you are unable to get all the food you need, the nutritional supplements are for you.
Some supplements, such as creatine, which is probably the most effective weight-boosting supplement, are extremely difficult to obtain from our diet to provide quantities like those in nutritional supplements. To get 5g of creatine from your diet, which is one standard dose as a dietary supplement, you should eat about 1kg of meat every day. It doesn’t sound very easy, does it?
You may be vegetarian, and there is nothing wrong with that, but a vegetarian diet has its risks, since excluding certain foods from the menu significantly reduces the supply of some very important substances, such as vitamin B-12. Deficiency of vital substances leads to health problems. In that case, nothing prevents you from getting these substances through nutritional supplements.
You may not like fish, but you know that it is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are vital for optimal body function. No problem, fish oil is sold as a dietary supplement and you can easily reap the benefits of it.
You want to get rid of a few pounds of excess fat and have your homework on nutrition and exercise regimen, but still want some extra help? There are products for this purpose as well.
Some substances, taken in higher amounts than those we get with food, have the potential to affect positively certain health conditions. Research in this area is constantly being done and some products can be really helpful.
ARE THESE PRODUCTS SAFE? CAN I OVERDOSE OR HARM MYSELF?
One wisdom states that the dose makes the poison. Nutritional supplements are no exception. Letting these products contain nutrients does not mislead you. You also have to be careful with them.
At certain recommended doses and within certain limits, nutritional supplements are safe, and if the appropriate recommendations are followed, there is nothing to worry about.
However, if you cross those boundaries, there is a risk. With some ingredients it is practically impossible to overdose, but with others it becomes much easier.
Also, not all products are suitable for all people. If you suffer from a particular health problem or are taking medication, you should be careful about your choice and consult your doctor in addition to consulting your doctor before purchasing a product.