Food supplements – obvious or questionable?


It puzzles many of us, doesn’t it? Yet this question often receives either wrong or ambiguous answers. Many of us just know the name, we have heard about them from various sources but we seldom understand really well what they are, what are they for, what supplements exist and, finally, how to choose the quality ones that would suit our specific needs?  

Prevention is better than cure

Let’s take a closer look at some figures:  supplements are used by more than 90% of Japanese, more than 80% of people in the USA, and about 65% of people in Europe.  How can this difference be explained? In terms of Europe it is attributed to the common attitude to any plastic packaged non-food items: “Eating healthy is way more beneficial than any supplements”. However, it’s hard to believe that seemingly useless product would stick on the market throughout three decades, consistently gaining in popularity. Perhaps, the real thing here is the attitude to our health: many of us turn to medical health only when some tangible problems start sinking in. Unfortunately, we still haven’t learnt to prevent diseases by taking a consistent and holistic approach to what we eat, how we change with years, and how we feel. This is where the food supplements come along with illness prevention being their direct mission. It is not a medication and it is not quite food (you can’t possibly substitute naturally grown vegetables and fruits with supplements). Yet even eating clean does not provide us with all the necessary elements. 

Okay, but what if I eat super healthy?

Sad but still a fact: over recent decades, food is objectively observed to be losing its biological value. The pursuit of high productivity of agricultural products to the detriment of quality aligned with modern processing technologies rob products of many essential components. First of all, these are vitamins, minerals, phospholipids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and so on. One-third of them are indispensable, food alone can not provide enough of them. Shortage of certain microelements or vitamins has a massive potential to launch the chain reaction and trigger various diseases. 

The keyword here is a supplement. “Biologically active” means, first of all,  reliably replenishing this formidable deficit. On no account should we settle on “synthetic” surrogate. High-quality dietary supplements are made from natural raw materials — plant, animal, minerals. Supported by such a “bonus”, the body adjusts itself to properly perform its functions. 

Food supplements advanced features

Using biologically active supplements improves metabolism, restores the activity of enzymes, strengthens the immune defence, regulates and supports the work of internal organs. The risk of many diseases, including such serious ones as stroke, heart attack, atherosclerosis, and diabetes, is significantly reduced.

Supplements can be very different in composition and purpose, and even in the form: they are available in tablets, capsules, liquid, and powder. There are supplements of a “wide profile”, for example, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which we need so badly. They play a pivotal role in the formation and resilience of our immune system, the functionality of our brain and decrease of the risk to develop cardiovascular diseases. 

Some dietary supplements are geared towards specific needs. For example, the agents obtained from crustaceans shell help reduce cholesterol, glucose, delay the absorption of fat from the intestine and remove it, allowing you to control your weight.  There are dietary supplements that improve the condition of the skin, hair, nails. We can also find a special group of dietary supplements is used in restorative medicine. They encourage the adaptive capability of our organism and assist in reducing the side effects of drugs, that is, they act as a supporting mechanism. As you can see, there is plenty to choose from.

Is it safe?

Putting your trust and money in a fake is scary, so what do we do to avoid a nothing-burger and buy a quality product?

The same as we select farm-grown veggies carefully looking at them to pick the best for our family we should select those supplements that would serve the needs of our organism. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to find truthful data about quality supplements, and often all we know is that they must be licensed.  International organizations, such as HACCP, GMP, ESO have a scientific approach towards dietary supplement quality control. Protocols are developed implying mandatory certification: products are checked for safety and biologically active agents. It is increasingly important, as HACCP certificate, for example, guarantees that a supplement was produced using only quality raw materials and does not contain any dangerous ingredients. This certificate is effective and eligible throughout Europe. 

If you find one of these certificates on the packaging you may be confident in your choice. 

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