Supplements are an obvious way to plug dietary gaps. We discuss whether nutrients from whole foods can be replaced.
Dietary supplements have become fairly commonplace owing to a large number of people wanting to add the essential nutrients to their diet and not strictly consuming the natural sources of such nutrients. Besides keeping the body’s health on track, such supplements are also said to keep the skin healthy and glowing. However, the question of supplements replacing fruits and vegetables as food for skin, is one that requires a thorough understanding of the pros and cons of such replacement. This begins with first delving into what dietary supplements actually mean, how they are incorporated into our diet, and how and if they can serve as food for skin? Read on for everything you need to know about the alternate food for skin, dietary supplements.
What are dietary supplements?
Dietary supplements are substances you might use to add nutrients to your diet or to lower your risk of health problems, like osteoporosis or arthritis. They come in multiple forms such as pills, capsules, powders, gel tabs, extracts, or liquids. They contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, herbs and other plants, and even enzymes. Sometimes, the ingredients in dietary supplements are added to foods, including drinks. Popular supplements include vitamins D and B12; minerals like calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and products like glucosamine, probiotics, and fish oils. Arguably, eating a variety of healthy foods is the best method to incorporate your daily intake of vitamins and nutrients. When you feel that your daily diet is not giving you the adequate nutrients you require, you may consult a doctor who will then prescribe a supplement. It is important to note that a doctor’s prescription isn’t necessary to have supplements, but it is recommended.
Can dietary supplements replace fruits and vegetables?
Supplements are not intended to replace your intake of fruits and vegetables. In fact, a study published in 2019 in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that vitamins and supplements may not be enough to keep you healthy. You should be able to get your daily nutrient intake with a balanced diet. Note that whole foods are loaded with nutrients and are accompanied by many nonessential but beneficial nutrients, such as hundreds of carotenoids, flavonoids, minerals, and antioxidants that aren’t in most supplements. While supplements would seem to be the obvious way to plug gaps in your diet, they should not be relied on entirely for your daily nutrient intake. Not to forget, nutrients are the most potent when they come from food and as such are the ideal as well as literal food for skin and body. Hence, it is best to first attempt to include the natural sources of the vitamins you feel your body is lacking before opting for nutrients.
What are the benefits of taking such food for skin?
Supplements can provide you with extra nutrients when your diet is lacking or certain health conditions trigger a deficiency. There is no disputing the fact that good skin comes from within. Hence, a proper intake of nutrients manifests in glowing and flawless skin. While consuming a balanced and nutritious diet is essential, sometimes it can be helpful to support what you eat with a skin supplement. People take dietary supplements for a number of reasons:
- To maintain their general health.
- To support mental and sports-related performance.
- To provide immune system support.
- To build collagen for ageing skin.
- To include essential fatty acids that our bodies do not synthesise adequately.
Certain individuals may need them especially, including:
- Pregnant women: Women who are pregnant should consume 400 micrograms of folate on a daily basis, either from food or supplements, to safeguard against birth defects. Folate is a B vitamin, needed to produce genetic materials, including DNA. It’s available in prenatal vitamins that may also contain helpful levels of iron and calcium.
- Older adults: As we age we may need certain vitamins and minerals more than younger people. These could include calcium and vitamin D, which are important for bone strength, vitamin B6 that helps form red blood cells, and vitamin B12 that helps maintain nerves.
- People with food allergies or restricted diets: If you are vegan, have food allergies, have an intolerance to lactose, or have difficulty digesting or absorbing nutrients, dietary supplements may provide you with important benefits.
What are the risks of taking dietary supplements?
While most dietary supplements are safe as long as you follow the product instructions, large doses of certain nutrients can have adverse effects. You can even overdose on certain supplements, risking serious harm. You are most likely to have side effects from dietary supplements if you take them at high doses or instead of prescribed medicines, or if you take many different supplements. Supplements can also interact with some medicines in ways that might cause problems. There are a few things you can do to avoid the cons of dietary supplements:
- Be an informed and aware consumer: Always do your research before considering a supplement. Find out what the scientific evidence says about the safety of a dietary supplement and whether it works. Keep in mind the following questions and have an answer prepared for them: What are its potential benefits for me? Does it have any safety risks? What is the proper dose to take? How, when, and for how long should I take it?
- ‘Natural’ doesn’t necessarily always mean safe: Some all-natural botanical products, for example, like comfrey and kava, can harm the liver. A dietary supplement’s safety depends on many things, such as its chemical makeup, how it works in the body, how it is prepared, and the amount you take.
- Take the advice of a licensed and medical professional: Notify them of what your diet contains presently and what it is lacking so that they can get a full picture and prescribe supplements accordingly that won’t interact with your OTC medicines.
Dietary supplements are a completely safe way to incorporate missing nutrients and vitamins into your diet if you keep in mind the precautions. While the question of whether they can completely replace fruits and vegetables is debatable, it is established that they do their job of ‘supplementing’ and adding that extra vitamin kick to your overall diet. Taking such supplements in a careful and considerate manner as food for skin and body is good to keep your required nutrient content on track. Remember to go for a well-known brand that’s been around for a long time and is likely well-tested.