Dietary Supplements 101: What Everyone Should Know

Dietary supplements are products that are formulated to supplement a person’s normal diet and are also often referred to as nutritional supplements or food supplements.

Supplements can contain nutritional ingredients such as vitamins, herbs, amino acids, minerals or various combinations of these substances.

Other compounds that have been formulated or extracted from natural sources are also considered health supplements. Compounds such as lycopene, glucosamine and coenzyme Q10 are just some of the more popular natural supplement compounds used today.

Even steroidal hormone supplements such as DHEA and melatonin are also considered dietary supplements that can easily be taken by anyone.

Basics of Dietary Supplements


There is a dizzying array of products in many different forms which include:

  • Pills
  • Liquids
  • Powders
  • Capsules
  • Tablets

For example, vitamin B12 can be obtained in liquid form, sublingual capsules, tablets, standard capsules and even injectable doses that can be administered at your local area fitness gym by a qualified professional!


It’s true that a person would have little need of taking general health supplements if he or she ate a truly healthy, balanced diet.

Unfortunately, that is not the case with most people.

Adds missing nutrients in daily diets

In today’s world of less than fortified foods, adding a multivitamin or other types of dietary enhancements can be beneficial to both children and adults.

Preventive care and health treatments

Supplements can also be used as preventive medicines or nutritional therapies for a vast range of health conditions such as arithritis, hormone disfunction, headaches, skin conditions, depression and heart disease.

Body enhancement

Another reason that supplements are used is to enhance the body for sports, beauty or personal performance. Those interested in bodybuilding supplements may use creatine supplements, protein powder shakes or an array of other nutrients to stimulate energy, muscle mass, weight gain and more.

Anti-aging supplements are very popular, as well as supplements for weight loss and muscle definition. Health related performance supplements are often used by seniors such as brain supplements, immune supplements and supplements for sexual vitality.

Easily Available

These products are available without the need for a prescription because the FDA ( Food and Drug Administration) designates supplements to the food category rather than drug category.

Federal regulation is much less stringent on the introduction of new supplements to the marketplace than it is on the initial entrance of any new drug.

That has made it easier for manufacturers of herbal, vitamin and other dietary compounds to continually offer newer and better products to consumers without the restraint of heavy governmental regulations.

General Safety Tips

While this makes it easier for consumers to use these products, it also requires that consumers be knowledgeable about nutritional supplementation in order to avoid any danger associated with general usage or any possible interactions with other medicines.

While many types of supplements are safe to use, there are always some risks to certain people, especially if used in conjunction with other drugs or if used while suffering from certain health conditions.

Some herbal remedies as well as body enhancing supplements such as hormones or steroids can have a powerful effect on the body.

The best way to avoid common safety issues is to always
consult your doctor when beginning a new dietary supplement and always buy vitamins from reputable companies.

There are no FDA standards that guarantee complete safety, so it’s important to use common sense and if in doubt, check with a health care professional about herbs, vitamins, minerals, whole food supplements and other natural compounds used to supplement the diet.

Also, if you experience any unusual side effects, always discontinue use immediately until the cause of the problem is pinpointed.

Where to Buy Dietary Supplements

You can buy supplements in just about any supermarket, drugstore, or health food store. There are also many popular stores such as GNC or Vitamin Shoppe that can be found in malls and shopping centers that are completely dedicated to supplying health supplements of all kinds.

For the the web savvy, there are many online suppliers that further specialize in nutritional support categories such as bodybuilding supplements, diet pills, immune boosters, weight gainers, arthritis and joint supplements, vitamins and herbs for the brain and just about any thing you can imagine.

There are also general multivitamins as well as natural organic vitamins for the more conservative user who only wishes to add one general supplement to their daily diet.

Interesting Fact: Medical Professionals Use Supplements, Too!

Did you know that many health care professionals such as doctors, nurses, dieticians and other conventional health care professionals use a variety of natural supplements?

You may find that, while your own doctor may appear skeptical about your use of certain vitamins and supplements, he or she is probably using some form of alternative therapy such as vitamins or minerals for personal use.

One survey of over 180 cardiologists noted that almost half were taking Vitamin E and C as well as other antioxidant vitamains that may prevent heart disease. Yet, only a little more than a 1/3 of them recommended the same dietary supplements to their patients.

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