What You Need to Know About Natural Supplements

When it comes to natural supplements, there are some things to understand because they are not all created equally. First, know that the Food and Drug Administration defines the term like this, “a dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that is intended to supplement the diet.” The FDA places supplements in the “food” category instead of under medications, and while actual foods must carry nutritional facts on the label, supplements carry “supplement facts.”

What is a Natural Supplement?

Various substances meant to enhance the normal human diet by providing extra nutritional support.

Most nutrients occur naturally in foods, but supplements have been processed into easy to swallow liquids, pills, tablets, capsules, and dry tea blends to assist consumers with a deficient diet. The intention of natural dietary supplements is to benefit a body’s well being.

Natural Supplements Fall Into Five Categories:

  • Vitamins: 13 essentials, fat or water-soluble
  • Minerals: two types – macro and trace minerals
  • Amino Acids: body growth and tissue repair
  • Enzymes: digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Herbs and Botanicals: nature’s medicines

Why Do People Need Natural Supplements?

Vitamins and minerals are required so the human body functions properly. For example, wounds may not heal properly if there is a vitamin C deficiency. A shortage of an important B vitamin known as folate during pregnancy was linked to the birth defect known as spina bifida. Calcium promotes not only strong bones and teeth, but the muscles and nerves depend on a good supply too. A shortage of specific nutrients can cause all kinds of health issues.

There are 20 amino acids with 10 manufactured within a healthy body and 10 coming from food sources. Amino acids are protein building blocks and are responsible for all cellular processes necessary for good health.

The role enzymes play in the human body is to efficiently break down and direct nutrients through the bloodstream to various cells, systems, and organs. Then metabolize those nutrients to the body’s benefit. Without these enzymes, the body cannot use the nutrients taken into it, therefore, they are essential to health.

Herbs and botanicals have been used for centuries for everything from curing ailments to enhancing energy levels. Dietary supplements of this type come from nature, and they have definite advantages for the human body.

Keeping a body at its optimum level requires good nutrition from the diet or from supplements. Routine lab work may help determine the need for supplements, but professionals might also learn from a person’s health concerns if they are lacking specific nutrients. Doctors may recommend supplements to their patients. A patient using them on their own should keep a list of what they are taking along with the dosage and then share the list with their doctor.

How Do Consumers Know If A Natural Supplement is Safe?

Producers are not required to test their dietary products, but they must follow quality guidelines and practices. Companies whose supplements carry approval seals from either U.S. Pharmacopeia or NSF International are held to the strictest standards.

The dietary supplements that carry these seals must be free of contaminants, processed properly, and contain all the ingredients listed on the label. Expect the highest quality product when the container displays the approval from these companies.

Though some manufacturers do not test products or prove they are safe before marketing those items, reputable companies test and keep records. Professional dietary supplement companies welcome consumers’ questions, and provide helpful information about their products. Once a dietary supplement is on the market, the FDA monitors it for safety issues. Information on recalls of dietary supplements is on the FDA’s website.