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Dietary Supplements

Posted Oct 03 2008 11:31am 1 Comment
Today, I want to talk about dietary supplements, in general.
First thing is: What are dietary supplements?

Dietary supplements are:
  1. Vitamins and minerals products
  2. 'Botanical' or Herbal products
  3. Amino acid products
  4. Enzyme supplements
Why dietary supplements existed? Well, they are designed for those who seek to compensate the essential nutrients that they lack of due to the limitation of their daily diet, caused by diets, medical conditions, or eating habits. Some take dietary supplements to boost energy; or for 'anti-aging' purpose.

Is everyone need dietary supplements? The answer is: If you are having a healthy diet without special medical conditions that limit your various type of foods intake, you don't need one. And, even if you need one, you better consult a healthcare professional, to see which one you need.

Some general advices are:
  • Dietary supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or alleviate the effects of diseases
They cannot completely prevent diseases, as some vaccines can. However, some supplements are useful in reducing the risk of certain diseases, but please note that: REDUCING THE RISK only!
  • Using supplements improperly can be harmful
Taking a combination of supplements, using these products together with medicine, or substituting them in place of prescribed medicines could lead to harmful, even life-threatening, results.
  • Some supplements can have unwanted effects before, during, or after surgery

For example, bleeding is a potential side effect risk of garlic, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and Vitamin E. Therefore, before surgery, you should inform your health care professional about all the supplements you use.


For healthcare professionals:
Do not ignore the use of dietary supplements among the public. Be updated on dietary supplements so that you are able to discuss with your patient about it, and give them proper advice.

For public:
  1. Let your health care professional advise you on sorting reliable information from questionable information.
  2. Be aware that some supplement ingredients, including nutrients and plant components, can be toxic. Also, some ingredients and products can be harmful when consumed in high amounts, when taken for a long time, or when used in combination with certain other drugs, substances, or foods.
  3. Do not self-diagnose any health condition. Work with healthcare professionals to determine how best to achieve optimal health.
  4. Do not substitute a dietary supplement for a prescription medicine or therapy, or for the variety of foods important to a healthful diet.
  5. Do not assume that the term "natural" in relation to a product ensures that the product is wholesome or safe.
  6. Be wary of hype and headlines. A proper health advice is generally based upon research over time, not a single study.
  7. Learn to spot false claims. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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