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Understanding The Role Of Dietary Supplements In A Balanced Diet

Mixture of Vitamins

A balanced diet is essential to ensure we don’t suffer from nutrient deficiencies. However, this is not always the case, as we tend to make unhealthy food choices and sometimes miss meals due to our busy lifestyle.

Therefore, doctors recommend incorporating dietary supplements into our health regimen to meet daily dietary requirements.

Here I hope to help you understand nutritional supplements, their benefits & cons, and the different types of dietary supplements. We also offer tips on choosing the best nutritional supplements in the market.

What are Dietary Supplements?

Dietary supplements are also known as nutritional or food supplements. Non-prescription products contain vitamins, herbs, minerals, and other plant extracts. These dietary supplements are designed to provide nutrients missing from your diet.

Dietary supplements come in various forms, including capsules, pills, liquids, or powders. Many brands make nutritional supplements, and they all have different claims. When buying food supplements, talk to your doctor for the best recommendations. Do your research based on effectiveness, safety, and quality before committing to a brand.

Who is Required to Consume Dietary Supplements?

Nutritional supplements are used by people who are not getting the daily recommended nutrients from their diet. Other reasons why you may need to use dietary supplements include:

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding: Pregnant or breastfeeding women should take supplements to ensure their babies get all the nutrients they need for growth and development. Some of the supplements recommended include folic acid and prenatal vitamins.
  • Premenopausal women: During menopause, a woman’s body changes. As such, supplements are essential. Iron supplements are vital for all women as they lose lots of blood during their menstrual cycle. They should also take calcium supplements, which also applies to people with osteoporosis.
  • Older adults should also consult their physician on the different supplements to include in their regimen.
  • Sick people. People with chronic kidney disease should incorporate iron supplements into their diet.

Benefits of Taking Dietary Supplements

  • Supplements help correct unaddressed deficiencies by standard diets, especially for those lacking proper education about healthy eating.
  • They help avoid detrimental health problems caused by inadequate nutritional intake.
  • Nutrient-dense formulas found within respective brands provide users with high concentrations necessary for supporting immunity against pathogens meaning less susceptibility to illnesses.
  • They are included in various treatment plans to manage chronic conditions depending on individual circumstances.
  • They help improve your overall health.

Cons of Taking Dietary Supplements

Taking large doses of dietary supplements could cause you to experience adverse effects. These include nausea, headaches, fatigue, skin rashes, constipation, diarrhoea, and allergies. As such, start with the lowest dose and increase as your body adjust until you reach your ideal dosage.

Overdosing can also lead to nutrient overload, becoming toxic if not addressed on time. Therefore, consult with your doctor on the dosage.

Types of Dietary Supplements 

Many dietary supplements are on the market, and buying the right ones can be overwhelming. Luckily, offers a comprehensive collection of supplement guides and reviews, allowing you to make an informed decision. First, let’s look at the different types of dietary supplements.

Vitamins Supplements

Vitamin supplements provide our bodies with essential micro-nutrient cofactors in enzymatic reactions to catalyze biochemical processes or serve metabolic purposes. These processes include energy production and storage.

Vitamins are classified into two, fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.

Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are stored in your body’s fatty tissues, such as the liver. And they can last for days or months in the body.

Water-soluble vitamins consist of vitamins B and C. They do not last long in the body and are erected via urine.

These vitamins have unique functions in the body.

Vitamin A is responsible for eye health.

  • Vitamin B1 is responsible for producing enzymes to help break down blood sugar.
  • Vitamin B2 supports cell growth and development. It also helps in food metabolization.
  • Vitamin B3 provides your body with niacin, essential for cell growth and functioning.
  • Vitamin B5 is essential for the production of energy and hormones.
  • Vitamin B6 helps in red blood cell formation.
  • Vitamin B7 helps in proteins, fats, and carbs metabolization. It also helps produce the keratin protein essential for skin, hair, and nail growth.
  • Vitamin B9 is essential for making DNA and RNA. Primarily found in pregnancy supplements, folic acid.
  • Vitamin B12 helps in maintaining a healthy nervous system. They are mostly recommended for people on vegan diet.
  • Vitamin D is good for bone growth. They are recommended for people who don’t get sufficient access to sunlight.
  • Vitamin K is responsible for blood clotting.

Mineral Supplements

Mineral supplements are inorganic elements in your that act as the building blocks. They work with vitamins to ensure you have strong bones and teeth. They also help regulate the amount of fluid inside and outside your body cells and help in converting food into energy.

Popular minerals include;

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Sulfur
  • chloride

The above minerals are stored in our bodies in large quantities. Other minerals are just as vital, but we only need trace amounts. These minerals include copper, iron, manganese, selenium, zinc, fluoride, and chromium.

Specialized Supplements 

These supplements are meant to solve a problem or ailment and are specialized for an individual. A survey by the Council of Responsible Nutrition found that people take supplements for various reasons. For example, they could be taking them for better sleep, digestive health, women’s or men’s health, brain health, or boosting immunity.

Phytonutrients, Herbs & Other Botanical Supplements 

These naturally occurring compounds derived from plants have been used for centuries.

Most of these supplements have high levels of phytonutrients. These nutrients are found in plant foods such as fruits, beans, spices, and vegetables. And the unique thing about plant-based supplements is they are rich in color and aroma.

Some popular spices or herbs used to make plant-based supplements include ginseng, turmeric, poppy seed, cranberry, ginger, garlic, ginkgo biloba, and saw palmetto.

Aloe vera juice is a popular supplement that aids digestive health and nutrient absorption.

Sports Nutrition Supplements 

These are supplements used by athletes and gym nerds. There are many sports nutrition supplements, and their aim differs. However, most of them help enhance their performance during workouts by providing an extra energy boost.

Some are used for hydration or promoting muscle recovery after a workout. That’s why protein shakes and supplements are popular among athletes.


Living bacteria cultures found within probiotics supplements are used to treat diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

They also in digestion symptoms like bloating gas and constipation.

They promote good gut health by regulating immune systems and replenishing vitamins and minerals necessary for efficient nutrient absorption, essential amino acids fatty acids.  

Amino Acids Supplements

Amino acids are organic compounds needed for your body to function. They are essential building blocks that play many roles in your body, such as hormones and neurotransmitters.

They are in protein-rich foods like meat, fish, and soybeans. And if you have insufficient supply, you can take supplements. Amino acids are categorized into essential and non-essential. Your body can make non-essential amino acids. However, essential amino acids are derived from foods and supplements.

They are found in meat, eggs, and poultry. You can also get them from eating soy products, like edamame and tofu.

Essential amino acids are vital for specific circumstances, such as pregnancy, illness, and infancy. For instance, arginine supplements are crucial during pregnancy as they support the health of the mother and the fetus.

Types of essential amino acids

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Threonine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Tryptophan


Benefits of taking amino acids supplements

  • Improves your mood
  • Improves workout and recovery process
  • Helps during the wound healing process
  • Maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails
  • Production of hormones and brain chemicals
  • A source of energy
  • Maintains a healthy digestive system
  • Boosts your immune system

Weight Management Supplements 

Excess weight is a cause for worry as it can lead to the development of weight-related diseases such as obesity. It can also affect your fertility. As such, instead of going the natural way, by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise, people turn to weight loss supplements.

Many have unproven claims that may be low-quality, unsafe, or ineffective. So if you are looking for weight loss supplements, work with your nutritionist and physician, and they may recommend some vitamins and nutrients that support healthy weight loss and overall body health.

Best Time to Consume Dietary Supplements 

Dietary supplements are best taken at certain times of the day. Some are best for the morning, and others are for evening consumption. Maintain consistency when taking the supplements.

To ensure you don’t forget, combine it with another must-do activity, such as after brushing your teeth or taking breakfast.

Which Foods Should You Take Together With Your Dietary Supplements?

For better absorption, you should pair your supplements with certain foods.

  • Water or other fluids when taking capsules or tablets
  • Vitamins A, D, E, and K must be paired with a fat source for better absorption
  • Minerals should be paired with acidic food for faster absorption

Tips to apply when buying supplements

  • Check their effectiveness, safety, and quality
  • Buy from reputable brands
  • Avoid supplements with mega doses and extra ingredients
  • Ask yourself why you need the supplements
  • Always read the label and ensure they are tested by a third-party lab and certified   

Final Thoughts

Dietary supplements are essential as they help fill up nutritional deficiencies, boost your immunity, and support your overall well-being.

That said, do not take just any supplement; work with your doctor to determine what you lack and what are the best supplements for you. It would be best if you also did your research regarding their safety, efficacy, and quality.