The Benefits of Taking Nutritional Supplements

Supplements help fill nutritional gaps, but the amount you take should be based on your eating habits, health conditions and lifestyle.

Fulfilling all our nutritional needs through diet alone can be difficult in today’s fast-paced world where deadlines are ticking, meal times are unpredictable, processed food is readily available, and stressors are omnipresent. As a result, many of us fall behind on essential nutrients and have gaps in our nutritional intake.

Nutritional supplements are one of the most convenient and effective ways to fill these gaps and support optimal health. Nutritional supplements are a great way to supplement your diet and help you get the nutrients you need. Vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are just a few of the nutrients that can be found in supplements. Botanicals and herbs can also be found in supplements, as well as enzymes and probiotics and prebiotics. Antioxidants are also found in supplements.

Vitamins and minerals are essential for a variety of bodily functions, including energy production, immune function, and the health of bones and tissues. These supplements are mainly used to address specific deficiencies. “Yes, nutritional supplements can be helpful, but they are not meant to replace a well-balanced and varied diet. Rather, they are meant to add value to a healthy lifestyle,” says Satvam Savaliya, Director-Founder, Satvam Nutrition. Satvam Nutrition is an organic and natural supplement brand.

Supplements are taken as tablets, capsules, powders or liquid drinks. They are either taken directly from food or synthesised in the lab. They are added to your nutritional plan to ensure complete health and well-being. Supplements are usually used to fill gaps in your diet. “You can use supplements to improve your body’s structure and function,” says nutritionist and lifestyle educationist Karishma. “For example, stress can increase your body’s need for certain nutrients, which can be provided through the formulation of supplements.”

People with food allergies or sensitivities can take specially formulated supplements to get the nutrients they need. Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption, hormones and gut health. However, due to limited sunlight exposure, supplements become essential.

Supplements can be divided into two main categories: plant-based supplements and synthetic supplements. The main difference between the two is the ingredients used to make them. A plant-based supplement is made from natural ingredients, such as fruits and vegetables, herbs, etc. These ingredients are extracted from the plant and formulated into a supplement. A synthetic supplement is made in a laboratory using artificial ingredients, such as synthetic vitamins and minerals, fillers and binders, and preservatives. According to Chawla, plant-based supplements are more natural in nature and may contain other beneficial compounds found in the plant. “Synthetic supplements are designed to imitate specific nutrients found in the natural world,” he adds.

Before taking supplements

While maintaining a healthy diet is important, supplements are not a substitute for a comprehensive nutrition plan. 

Some supplements, like vitamin D and vitamin B12, depend on the dose and require a blood test every 6 to 8 months. 

According to experts, it’s important to consider factors like sensitivities or allergy to specific ingredients and not exceed the recommended dosage or assume that one size doesn’t fit all. Savaliya says, “Everyone’s nutritional needs are different, so what works for some may not work for others.”

It is also important to consult a doctor or pharmacist before starting any new supplement. They can evaluate your needs, identify any deficiencies and make personalised recommendations.

If you are new to taking supplements, start slowly. Savaliya suggests starting with a lower dose to allow your body to adjust and reduce the chances of digestive issues.

Consumers should also be mindful of what they read on supplement labels. They should look for labels that are high-quality and transparent, listing all ingredients. They should also avoid products that contain unnecessary ingredients, fillers, or too much sugar.

While taking supplements, adjust your intake based on your needs, your health goals, and your dietary habits. Nutritional needs can be affected by factors such as your age, gender, your activity level, and your health conditions. Keep yourself hydrated while taking supplements. Some supplements may affect your fluid balance. Water plays an important role in nutrient absorption and distribution.