First I think it is important to understand that dietary supplements are not intended to be a food substitute because they cannot replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Whole foods offer three main benefits over dietary supplements. Greater nutrition is the first benefit. Whole foods are complex, containing a variety of the micronutrients your body needs, not just one. An orange, for example, provides vitamin C plus some beta carotene, calcium and other nutrients. A vitamin C supplement lacks these other micronutrients. Whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, provide dietary essential fiber. Most high-fiber foods are also packed with other essential nutrients. Fiber, as part of a healthy diet, can help prevent certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and it can also help manage constipation. Lastly protective substances are in whole foods contain other substances important for good health. Fruits and vegetables, for example contain naturally occurring substances called phytochemicals which may help protect you against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Many are also good sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that slow down oxidation, a natural process that leads to call and tissue damage
The four basic types of dietary supplements include herbal, vitamin and mineral, probiotic, and amino acid supplements. Herbal supplements, support the body and have an actual purpose, such as improving skin or maintaining proper liver function. They are often referred to and botanical supplements. Plants have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. However, herbal supplements haven't been subjected to the same scientific scrutiny and aren't as strictly regulated as medications. A vitamin and mineral supplement provides a variety of nutrients that are also found in food. These supplements are often called multivitamins. Sometimes even people who have healthy eating habits find it hard to get all the fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods they need. A supplement can help fill in the gaps. Probiotic supplements release tiny organisms into your body to help combat illnesses and diseases. Many people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill "good" (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria. The last of the four basic dietary supplements would be amino acids. Amino acids are essential for life. They form the basis for protein, which is important because proteins play a role in normal growth and development. Amino Acids help in the formation of enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters, support muscle tissue, and are necessary for the structure of the cell’s genetic material, including DNA and RNA. They also play a role in supporting a healthy metabolism, and can be used as fuel for energy.
Who needs supplements? If you are healthy and eat a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and fish, you most likely do not need supplements.