Dietary supplements are edible substances that complement the diet but are not food or a substitute for food. They can be in pill, tablet, capsule, or liquid form. Examples of supplements include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs or other plants. While it is illegal to claim that dietary supplements can diagnose, prevent, treat or cure disease, it is permissible to claim that they can improve one’s health along with a proper diet.
People have been using dietary supplements for thousands of years, and a few have eventually made their way into actual medicines. For example, people used to drink willow bark tea to relieve fever. Researchers eventually isolated the chemical component in willow bark that relieved fever – and used it to make aspirin.
Nonetheless, it should be noted that the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements as stringently as it does medicine. A person or business can sell a supplement without providing laboratory research on how well it actually works. Some supplements may have no effect whatsoever, and some may actually do more harm than good. Other supplements do seem to be useful. Some research has indicated that omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglyceride levels, for example.
Other concerns doctors have about dietary supplements include the fact they can cause allergic reactions in some people. Like conventional drugs, they can also interact with other medications and actually make the consumer’s symptoms worse. Additionally, the long-term effects of many supplements are not yet known.
Here is a partial list of dietary supplements and what they are supposed to do:
Calcium is a mineral. It is essential for strong bones and teeth, and the heart, blood-clotting system and nerves all need calcium to work properly.
Calcium is known to be able to reduce phosphate levels in people with kidney disease, increase calcium levels in people with a deficiency, and act as an antacid in the form of calcium carbonate. It can also be used to treat osteoporosis and PMS. It can also reduce bone loss in people who are not getting enough calcium in their diet or who are taking corticosteroids.
This fruit contains chemicals that prevent bacteria from growing in the urinary tract. It is believed to prevent urinary tract infections. The berries can be eaten as they are or consumed as a juice.
Several species of this herb are used to make medicines. The root, flower and leaves are the parts that are typically used. Researchers have found that Echinacea can reduce cold or flu symptoms if it’s taken as soon as the patient notices the symptoms. It does not prevent flu or colds, and it can also prevent vaginal yeast infections if used in conjunction with certain medicated creams.
Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Green tea can be used for treating genital warts. In fact, an ointment called Veregen is made from green tea extract, and it has been approved by the FDA to treat the symptoms of genital warts.
Drinking green tea can also improve mental alertness. There is some evidence that it can lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and it might also reduce the chances of developing Parkinson’s disease over time as well as prevent esophageal, pancreatic, ovarian and bladder cancers.