The good use of Food Supplements

Published: 15 June, 2015 - Updated: 30 July, 2020 | 3'

Piramide nutricional

The secret in preserving your health lies in following a varied and balanced diet, as well as in leading a healthy life style. Food provides the nutrients your body needs to carry out its vital functions. On the one hand, nutrients like carbohydrates, lipids and proteins serve as a source of energy; on the other hand, vitamins and minerals function as precursors and regulate other molecules. Therefore, a sufficient daily intake of different food groups contributes to a normal physiological process. All food groups are represented in a pyramid symbolizing the recommended daily intake for each food group. If you follow a varied and balanced diet, that will suffice to obtain the necessary nutrients.

Food supplements are meant to provide a sufficient amount of such nutrients in your daily diet. They are considered concentrated sources of nutrients or other substances with a nutritional and physiological effect. Commercial supplements come in different dosage forms: capsules, tablets, pills, liquid softgels, vials, drops and dosing systems taken in small amounts.

There exists a wide range of nutrients and other elements which may be found in food supplements, among which include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, fibre, different plant and herbal extracts, both separately or combined.

The importance of a good information to the consummer

Lots of food supplement types are available on the market. Due to the fact that food supplements needn’t undergo the same tests as medicines, manufacturers choose the types and amounts of vitamins, minerals and rest of ingredients to include in their products trying to comply with the recommendations for the general population.a
The recommended amounts of nutrients people must consume may vary according to age and sex, expressed as Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), Recommended Intakes (RI). The recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals are eventually represented as nutrient reference values, which are different for each of them. For an ease of consumer information, the labelling of food supplements shows a percentage of these values according to dose or portion they contain, suggested for each product. Such labelling also includes the instructions for use with the recommended storage, the recommended allowance by the manufacturer, and storage conditions for an adequate preservation of the product’s properties.

In this context of consumer information, one or more health claims made on foods may come on the labelling or publicity, indicating thus, that the food supplement or one of its components possesses specific properties. However, it all depends on the product’s composition.

Likewise, claims may indicate that a product provides or contains a nutrient, lacks or contains a small amount of another. For instance, claims like “low-calorie”, “rich in fiber” and salt-free” can be found on labelling.
There also exists healthy property and “and reduction of disease risk claims of certain nutrients showing health-related properties: Some of these permitted claims are: “such nutrient contributes to or has been approved by a Health Authority.

Generally speaking food supplements containing recommended amounts of nutrients don’t interact with medicines and drugs. Nevertheless, it is recommended to check with a physician you are getting treatment or taking anticoagulants.

Summing up, food supplements cannot replace a whole variety of foods which are important for a healthy diet. Prior to consuming these products you must have Good and exhaustive information about, which will be voluntarily selected.

Here is why it is recommended to consult a health professional, whether it be a physician, a diet and nutrition specialist or chemist, who will be able to give you professional advice.

For a correct use of food supplements it is advisable to:

  • Inform your doctor about the supplements you’re taking
  • Not increase the recommended daily allowance
  • Stop taking them if you experience any adverse effects.
  • Read liable information and check a health professional.