Our body needs nutrients for growth, development and proper body functions. Ideally, we would get all the essential nutrients from the food that we consumed daily. Most of the time, we wouldn’t give a second thought on whether we have consumed enough for the body to function optimally. It is not easy to determine until our body gives out signs of deficiencies or illnesses.
This is also where the dietary supplement comes into the picture. By definition, a dietary supplement refers to a product that is used to supplement a diet, in order to improve and maintain overall body health function. Dietary supplements usually come in the form of capsules, tablets, powder and liquids which contain ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, herbal or botanical extracts, amino acids, enzymes, probiotics, and other bioactive substances.
So, do you need these supplements? IT DEPENDS.
Filling The Nutritional Gaps
A well-balanced diet comes from fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, protein, grains, and dairy that fulfil all your nutritional needs. However, many people are not getting sufficient nutrients from diets alone. A study that assessed the nutrient intake among Malaysian adults concluded that less than 50% of Malaysian adults achieved the recommended nutrient intakes (RNI) for macronutrients such as protein, fat, and carbohydrate.1 The reasons such as poor appetite, eating habits, and diet restriction (vegetarian and vegan) affect the daily nutrient intakes.
Take the example of vegetarian diets that are focusing on plant-based foods which may put an individual at risks of vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acid or iron deficiency. The nutrient such as iron from plant-based food is less readily available for the body to absorb and utilize as compared to iron from animal products.2 Hence, supplementation serves an important role in bridging the nutritional gap to ensure an individual is obtaining sufficient nutrients and maintaining the balance of nutrients from food and supplementation.
Ageing Causes Low Nutrients Absorption
As you age, the nutrient requirements are increased for the body to function well. However, the ability of your body to absorb and utilize the nutrients becomes less efficient with ageing. This is due to the body produces fewer digestive enzymes to help break down the nutrients from your food for utilization. Vitamins and minerals supplements can help to counterbalance the loss of nutrients, while supplements with digestive enzymes and probiotics can help to restore overall digestive health.
Besides, physiological changes that occur with ageing increases the risks of developing diseases related to heart, brain, immune, lung and other body organs. Herbal or botanical extracts supplements that are rich in antioxidants with clinically proven efficacy may serve as an alternative therapy to prevent or reduce risks of developing these health issues. The elderly who are under long-term medications are also at risks of nutrients deficiency as certain medications can deplete the nutrients in the body.
Active Individual Needs More
By comparison with individuals who are sedentary, the nutrient demands for those who exercise frequently are relatively high. When you’re doing exercise, the body needs a lot of energy for its usage. Hence, it makes sense that after your workout or physical activities, the body needs to be replenished with nutrients and recharged with energy. Supplements such as vitamins, minerals, protein powder and amino acids can help to achieve these with additional benefits in promoting muscle recovery and building muscle mass.
Unhealthy Lifestyles Greatly Impact The Health
We are living in a fast-paced world. The stress level can be built up from all sort of things around us, such as work and family-related issues, financial status, et cetera. With the addition of unhealthy lifestyle habits such as cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking, the body will react to these stresses by producing free radicals (harmful byproducts from the natural metabolic process that can damage the cells) which lead to oxidative stress. In the long-term, it can increase one’s risk of developing health conditions such as inflammation, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes and others. Certain vitamins (vitamin A, C, and E), minerals (selenium, zinc, and copper), plants, and herbal-based supplements are known antioxidants extracted in high concentration to help combat the harmful effects of oxidative stress.
How To Choose The Right Supplements?
Identify Your Health Goals
If you’re standing in front of the store shelf looking for supplements or you’re reading the ads or websites regarding certain supplements and struggling to decide which supplements to go for, ask yourself a simple question – what do you want to achieve from taking up these supplements? It can be as general as for the overall well-being and prevention of certain illness or the answer can be as specific as to improve your stomach bloating issues, to relieve the joint pain, to speed up muscle recovery and maybe to fight tiredness, to name a few. Having a definite goal can prevent you from taking up too many supplements that aren’t fit into your health regimen.
Check The Label
Always read the ingredient list. To prevent overdosing, always make sure you are not taking several supplements containing the same active ingredients. Apart from the active ingredients that provide direct effects in addressing your health concern, many supplements also contain inactive ingredients (also known as excipients) which serve to improve the product appearance, flavours, stability or act as a bulking agent. For long-term supplementation, look for a cleaner and purer supplement which contains only simple ingredients and minimal “chemical-sounding” excipients.
Be aware of the presence of allergens. If needed, reach out to the marketer or company directly to determine whether the supplement contains potential allergens. Besides, you may also pay attention to the dosage form when choosing the desired product. Swallowing capsules or tablets may not be ideal for those with trouble swallowing, especially the elderly. Hence, supplement in powder or liquid form is a great alternative option. Additionally, it is more readily broken down and absorbed by the body as compared to capsules or tablets form.
Consider The Potential Interactions
Some of the active ingredients in supplements may adversely interact with other supplements, food or medications that you are currently taking. The potential adverse outcomes included lowering the supplements or medicine’s effective concentration, reducing the absorption rate, or worst causes unfavourable side effects.
For example, taking ginkgo in combination with antiplatelet or anticoagulant medicines (commonly referred to as blood thinners) such as warfarin and aspirin increases the risks of bleeding.3 Similarly, supplement such as evening primrose oil possesses blood-thinning effect which increases the bleeding time when taken concurrently with aspirin.4 The list goes on. Hence, as a wise consumer, one should seek advice from a healthcare professional to get more information on whether a particular supplement is suitable for consumption based on the current medication used.
Look For Quality Assured Products
Always buy from a trustworthy source such as reputable brands. Alternatively, you can check out the company through the official website or any online platforms to have a better understanding of the company that develops the product. Customers’ feedback or ratings on the product may also give you a general idea of whether the supplement is reliable. A trustworthy company will ensure their products met the quality standards through various quality testings such as stability test (a study to provide evidence on the quality of a product is stable up to the claimed shelf life under recommended storage conditions), microbial and heavy metal analysis (a test to ensure a finished product is safe to consume and free from microbial and heavy metals) and finished product specification test (a Certificate of Analysis will be issued by the Quality Assurance from the manufacturer for a product that meets the desired quality standard).
Save The Hassle & Go For Personalized Supplement
A personalized supplement is an answer to those who are seeking supplements that cater for your needs and only you.
In Nourished Personal, your personalized supplement is the result of a comprehensive health assessment with all the essential information required for designing supplements that fits your current health conditions, lifestyle routines, and health goals. This designing process saved you from the struggle in purchasing most of the ordinary combination supplements in the market with doses of ingredients that are either too low or too high for your health concerns or with other ingredients that are not what you need. Nourished also offers you peace of mind by only sourcing for high-quality ingredients from manufacturers that are reliable as well as equipped with standard quality assurance certificates. Additionally, all information from the health assessment are carefully screened and reviewed by a team of professional in the field of nutrition, diet and medicine (yes, we are referring to an actual team of professional personnel looking after you instead of system-generated outcomes!) to ensure the final customized supplements are safe and beneficial to you.
With Nourished Personal, improving health and quality of life through supplementation can be an easy, convenient, and hassle-free experience for everyone.
- Mahmud NA, Kassim Nm, Ahmad MH, Zainuddin AA, Hasani WSR. Nutrient intake among Malaysian adults: do they meet the requirement of the Malaysian recommended nutrient intake? [Internet]. Medical Journal of Malaysia; 2015 [updated 2015; cited 2021 May 22]. Available from: http://www.e-mjm.org/2015/v70s1/mjm-sept-suppl-2190.html.
- Tuso PJ. Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. The Permanente Journal. 2013;17(2):61-66.
- Lim JW, Chee SX, Wong WJ, He QL, Lau TC. Traditional Chinese medicine: herb-drug interactions with aspirin. Singapore Med J. 2018;59(5):230-239.
- Agbabiaka TB, Spencer NH, Khanom S, Goodman C. Prevalence of drug-herb and drug-supplement interactions in older adults: a cross-sectional survey. British Journal of General Practice. 2018;68(675):e711-e717.