The word supplement means in addition to, or added to a complete thing to make it stronger. Dietary supplements are also called Nutritional supplements or Food supplements. They are available in powder, capsule, or liquid form and are for oral use only.
Complementing the diet
The aim of any food supplement is to complement the already existing diet and make it perfectly balanced. Food supplements are in no way expected to replace the meal or diet. They provide the body with much needed nutrients such as proteins, fiber, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. A meal needs to be supplemented when there is a lack of or deficiency of one or more nutrients from the diet due to unhealthy eating or some ailment that does not allow the absorption of the nutrients from food ingested. By far, drugs cannot be classified as food supplements, but some countries do have recommendations for the same.
Having excess of what the body needs will play havoc in the system, and will be excreted in the form of waste or will pile up and be stored as fat.
Variety of supplements
Anything from a simple B complex vitamin pill or even herbs can be categorized as a supplement.
- Vitamins and minerals: For example, Vitamin C helps in immune function. Calcium has its role to play in bone and dental health. Sometimes a combination of more than one vitamin and minerals are present in what is called as a multivitamin capsule.
- Herbs and their products: Tulsi is a common Indian plant, used in Vedic rituals and has various medicinal properties. It is a popular herb used among the westerners.
- Amino acids: These have been used by the medical fraternity for patients suffering from severe trauma, such as burns and post surgery, in an attempt to aid fast recovery and tissue growth. Body builders have long exploited amino acid in order to get phenomeal growth of muscle tissue (in addition to good nutrition and exercise).
- Dietary fiber: These are available in pill and powder form as well. Isabgol or psyllum husk is given to the elderly with reduced bowel movement in an attempt to reduce constipation.
- Essential fatty acids: Cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, primrose oil and all are also supplements in capsule form that claim to deliver essential fats such as omega 3 and omega 6. These essential fatty acids are shown to improve the body’s metabolism along with other important functions.
- Meal replacements: Just as the name suggests, these are complete replacements of the real meal. Mostly used by body builders. They are extremely popular with bodybuilders because of their composition which ensures that they get all the required nutrients in the required amounts and proportions. These are convenience foods that are mostly available in powder form. They can be consumed by blending the same with water or milk. Meal replacements are available in powder form, bars and readymade shakes. This is a food supplement that closely resembles the “ideal” composition of what a meal should be. The product is fortified with complex carbohydrates (fiber), protein, various vitamins and minerals.
There are two types of meal replacements depending on the person’s goals. One is to help gain weight and the other for weight watchers. The proportion of protein to carbohydrate will differ according to the health goal of the individual.
- Aloe Vera extract is known to help in weight loss, however, this is certainly person-specific.
- Ephedrene is used along with aspirin and caffeine (know as a stack), and these claim to aid in weight loss ...