Dietary supplements are gaining popularity day by day. You probably know several people who use them. As you may know, there are certain dietary supplement recommendations for different groups of people, some of which are given below. However, a question arises- if you are consuming a balanced

(Source: www.eufic.org)

diet, is it really beneficial to be taking additional supplements? Let us tell you all we know.

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What constitutes a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is one that constitutes of all major and minor nutrients that the body needs, and in suitable amounts. Without these nutrients, the body and its enzymes cannot work properly. Poor nutrition can make your body susceptible to various infections, and may even affect growth and development of your organs. In general, the nutrients to be included in a balanced diet consist of:

  • Macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, roughage/fiber, proteins
  • Micronutrients: vitamins and minerals

USDA recommends that the diet should consist of 60% carbohydrates, 30% fats and 10% proteins. 8 glasses (2 liters of water) per day is recommended. Vitamins and minerals have their own recommended dietary allowance (RDA) which should be taken daily as follows:

What are dietary supplements?

Today we see many people taking and recommending dietary supplements to one another. Dietary supplements are manufactured edible products. They are intended to provide adequate amounts of specific deficient nutrients in the body. These may be in the form of liquids, capsules, tablets or pills. These supplements may either be synthetic or be extracted from different food sources.

Essential Vitamins (source:slideshare.com)

Are supplements better than a balanced diet?

Nowadays you probably see advertisements about how dietary supplements can change your life. But nothing beats the fact that simplicity is the best remedy. Consuming a balanced diet is the best way to gain all the nutrients that your body needs. However, some doctors say that due to the depleted quality of agricultural soils, toxic environments and sub-par food transportation facilities; sometimes your diet may still be deficient in certain minerals. They recommend taking five main kind of minerals including- vitamin D, omega-3 fats, magnesium, PGX fiber and a multivitamin. However, it is a good idea to consult your doctor first.

On the other hand, many researches have shown that dietary supplements in addition to a balanced diet do not have any benefits. In fact, there was even some evidence which suggested that in taking more than 1000 milligrams of calcium per day kept people more at risk of certain cancers. In addition, the same held true for Vitamin D. People taking supplements more than 10 micrograms per day without a vitamin D deficiency showed higher risks of cancer fatality.

This is why it is not a good idea to go for supplements when you are already consuming a balanced diet. Why opt for manufactured

substances when you can nourish your body just as well with natural foods?

But why are people taking supplements living longer?

This seems to be the case because people who can afford supplements often have better lifestyles and access to proper sanitation. They also exercise more and have better qualities of life. So these are the factors contributing to their longer lives. However, studies have shown no particular relation of dietary supplement intake to long life (assuming that balanced diet has fulfilled all their nutritional requirements).

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