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What Are Supplements and Do You Need Them

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By David Saunders, Lifestyle Editor | UPDATED: 16:28, 5 December 2020

What are food supplements?

The idea behind food supplements, also called dietary or nutritional supplements are concentrated sources of nutrients taken as a dietary top-up.

Food supplements can be vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and other substances delivered in the form of pills, tablets, capsules, liquid, etc.

Supplements are available in a range of doses, and in different combinations. However, only a certain amount of each nutrient is needed for our bodies to function, and higher amounts are not necessarily better.

Supplements normally contain higher amounts of nutrients than can be found in most foods.

Who needs food supplements

Partly due to our modern lifestyle, not everyone manages to eat a healthy diet and supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced healthy diet.

A diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, adequate protein, and healthy fats should normally provide all the nutrients needed for good health.

Most European countries agree that messages aimed at the general public should focus on food-based dietary guidelines.

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What are sports supplements?

Science Has Come A Long Way In The Development Of Sports Nutritional Supplements and Sports supplements have become increasingly popular among gym-goers with millions of people taking sports supplements hoping for a range of health benefits, from weight loss to muscle building.

The industry in sports nutrition supplements available on the high street and online, and It’s important to be aware that products sold from a website or supplier based outside the UK or Europe may not pass the same safety standards as those within Europe.

Building muscle through protein supplements

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Protein is an important part of our diet and key to building and maintaining all types of body tissue, including muscle. Protein contains amino acids, the building blocks used for muscle growth. You can find additional protein from things such as powders, and shakes, bars and capsules,

Get advice before taking a supplement

Always check first with your doctor or a dietitian if you are thinking about trying a supplement, below are a few important points to take into consideration.

  • Do eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Don’t mix food supplements and medicines
  • Some food supplements can interact with medicines. So if you are taking any medication, seek advice from either a GP or dietitian.
  • Do watch out for unreasonable health claims, If a claim seems too good to be true then it probably is. 
  • Don’t take more than the recommended daily dose, taking too much of a supplement can be harmful, or even poisonous. If the manufacturer recommends just one a day, two are unlikely to be any better for you, and may even be harmful.

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