Food and mineral supplements, vitamins…they all blur into each other, the doctor says you need them, prescribes them, and you use them. Someone returns from a trip outside the country, brings you a bottle of pills – not prescription pills of course. They tell you ‘oh, I got you this. It’s good for people over the age of xxx’, and so you take it.  So what exactly are food supplements? What do they do for you? Are they the same as mineral supplements? What of vitamins?

Dietary supplements – food and mineral supplements and vitamins serve to support and supplement the body’s existing nutrients to deal with possible deficiencies and ensure the body functions optimally.

One way to know if you need more nutrients is by being familiar with how your body works and recognizing the signs. Signs such as blood shot eyes, fatigue, fat inflamed skin, cold symptoms, thinner hair, cramps in the legs or a change in condition, such as pregnancy, for which iron and some other essential nutrients are usually prescribed.

Nutrients are always best consumed naturally from the foods themselves as they tend to be more potent, and accompanied by other good nutrients. So before taking to pills, try to work on your diet, increasing your consumption of those foods which contain the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Buying the foods directly is gastronomically more satisfying and might even prove cheaper! If you have to, consult a dietician to help you work out a diet plan as needed. If for some reason, you do not have the luxury of access to some of these foods, then, have a doctor prescribe you some pills. If you are taking pills, do not take them undiagnosed and for prolonged periods as some pills have potential harmful effects if their dosage is abused.

What is most important is that you know what foods supply what nutrients and try to eat balanced meals. Combine food classes to get the most of every meal!

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