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Dietary supplements and their benefits

Benefits of dietary supplements

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamin and mineral supplements provide the basic micronutrients your body may lack and may need. 

Benefits: These are widely used to keep the levels up to the mark. Sometimes they are also used to treat deficiencies (iron deficiency) and specific health conditions or risk factors. For example, vitamin D is given in therapeutic doses to treat osteoporosis, niacin (vitamin B3) is prescribed to raise good cholesterol, and folic acid is used ‘as a rule’ to reduce the risk of birth defects during early pregnancy.


Probiotics are dietary supplements which contain live micro-organism and help in improving digestive health.

Benefits: Probiotics help with irritable bowel syndrome and traveler’s diarrhea. It is said to boost the immune system also. They are usually prescribed with antibiotics to combat associated diarrhea. Probiotics are found mainly in yogurt & other dairy products, drinks, energy bars, and cereals.

Herbs and other supplements

Herbal supplements (also known as botanicals) are dietary additions derived from nature (plants, fungus, shrubs, and trees) and contain medicinal value. Flaxseed, green tea, ginseng, ginger, primrose oil, etc., are some of the widely used examples of herbal supplements. They are known to increase the body’s immunity, possess antioxidants, and are used for a variety of medical conditions as well as to maintain overall health and well-being.

Points to ponder before taking supplements

  • Do not take a larger dose than recommended.
  • Before any other prescription, tell your healthcare provider about any dietary supplements that you are taking.
  • Read trustworthy information before starting a supplement.
  • Check the expiry date.

Word of caution

Remember, dietary supplements are not a substitute for your daily, wholesome, balanced diet. They can temporarily work against a few shortfalls in your diet. The nutrients you get from eating whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are far more beneficial for the body than consuming supplements.

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