Ideally, we would get all the nutrition we need from all of the healthy, natural things that we eat and drink. In the real world, however, that simply isn't the case.
We can't always keep track of every single vitamin and mineral that goes into our bodies. Keeping a reliable count of the amounts that we consume is more an annoyance to many of us.
One way to make sure that we are getting all the nutrition we need is to take food supplements. However, there are a few drawbacks to taking food supplements, so before you start popping pills to fill your nutritional needs, consider the pros and cons of this course of action.
PRO: Dietary supplements can provide your body with the nutrients your diet can't always offer.
CON: They can't replace food. As its name suggests, a dietary supplement is not food. It is only meant to supplement your diet. Real food isn't one-dimensional. Whole foods, for example, contain a lot of different nutrients and substances, and not all of their effects have been completely studied or documented yet.ï¿½::
PRO: They can help you prevent diseases. Certain dietary supplements can lower your risk of contracting certain diseases and medical conditions. For instance, taking proper amounts of folic acid during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of birth defects.
CON: There is a risk for toxicity. More isn't always better when it comes to supplements. Taking too many supplements can cause an overdose. For example, fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E can accumulate to toxic levels in the body if you take too many of these. In contrast, it's really difficult to overdose on a vitamin by simply eating too much of a certain kind of food. At the end of the day, a food supplement is simply a collection of vitamins and other nutrients, in concentrated amounts.
At the end of the day, the best sources of nutrition will always be a healthy and balanced diet, but there are certain kinds of people who would benefit from a food supplement more than others, such as:
- People who eat fewer than 1,600 calories per day
- People whose diets exclude entire food groups
- Pregnant or lactating women
- People who are too busy to eat
- People suffering from chronic illnesses, digestive diseases, or major injuries
If you aren't sure whether or not you should take a food supplement, ask your doctor or nutritionist if doing so is right for you.