What are dietary supplements?
Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, and other less familiar substances — such as herbals, botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes (see box at right). Dietary supplements are also marketed in forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, and gelcaps. While some dietary supplements are fairly well understood, others need further study.
What are the benefits of dietary supplements?
Some supplements may help to assure that you get an adequate dietary intake of essential nutrients. However, supplements should not replace the variety of foods that are important to a healthful diet — so, be sure you eat a variety of foods as well.
Unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases. That means supplements should not make claims, such as "reduces arthritic pain" or "treats heart disease." Claims like these can only legitimately be made for drugs, not dietary supplements.
Who should take multi-vitaminics-minerals supplements?
Smokers may benefit from B vitamins, vitamin C. Those are all your water soluble vitamins that. Smokers may have increased needs for those. But never taking mega doses of those.
Chronic alcoholics have multiple, nutritional issues, often times. Both because they're replacing food with alcohol. But also some of the impacts on the body, in terms of increasing nutrient need, diminished absorption and other issues. So again, it's many of the water soluble vitamins with that group.
Individuals with restricted or limited diets, and this is sometimes where my college students, find, fall, is that they don't eat enough calories. To really meet all their needs. And in those cases a multispectrum, a multivite mineral supplement may be warranted. Vegetarians often times supplementation is warranted. But it really depends on how strict that vegetarian is. Many vegetarians include, you know, milk products, dairy products, eggs and get some of these nutrients through those animal foods. But vegans, individuals that exclude all animal foods will definitely need either a supplemental form of B12 or purchasing
foods that are fortified in B12, because vitamin B12 is only found in foods of animal origin. And depended on their intake, they may need some other vitamins. Vitamin D, because it's often found in milk products, they may need supplemental D. So again, with vegetarians, and we'll talk about this under the plant based diets session in more detail. But, supplementation in vegetarians is again kind of contingent on how strict they are. When you look at individuals that have limited milk intake or limited sun exposure, that may be an indication for vitamin D, for calcium.
People that are lactose intolerant may be omitting many of the dairy foods and would need calcium and vitamin D through other sources.
Older adults have a spectrum, again of potential needs based on maybe diminished
intake, but also decreased utilization and absorption of nutrients. In particular things like calcium, vitamin D and certain B vitamins,
People that have a health condition that effects how their body utilizes or absorbs nutrients, and those individuals would need a supplement that would kind of match up with their issues in regards to that absorption and utilization.
Individuals that have compromised immune function may benefit just to help bolster their overall immune response. To make sure they're getting in adequate nutrition, adequate nutrients across the spectrum.
Some infants may benefit from supplementation. Breast milk is low in vitamin D, but I
mean, cows milk is fortified with it. It's not a natural vitamin D source. But, breast milk is low in vitamin D and so, you know, after a few months, particularly if there's limited any sun exposure.