What Are Health Supplements?

Health supplements have been more strictly regulated in the past 15 years than they were before that date. In 1994, Congress approved a law that specifically identified what could be called a dietary supplement and could be used safely for that purpose. One of the effects of this law was the creation of many new types of supplements, ranging from fiber to animal extracts and herbs. The law’s definition has had the effect of moving some items that were treated as drugs or additives to the category of supplement.

A quick search for information about health supplements will uncover not just hundreds of products but thousands. The most commonly used are supplements designed to provide vitamins and minerals needed by the human body. But the supplement world that exploded in the last 15 years now includes much more than these staples.

The Food and Drug Administration or FDA is the federal agency charged with overseeing the production, sale and use of health supplements. One of the key tasks for this agency and for medical personnel is to keep people from using supplements as a way to treat or prevent major diseases, when these items have no real chance of accomplishing that goal.

There are supplements that can and do enhance health to some degree, but the buyer must be careful when purchasing products that make claims that would almost impossible o substantiate.

According to some major news media reports, federal courts have ruled that the FDA is limited in what it can restrict in the health supplement industry. This alone can put more pressure on the consumer to read and understand labels for these products.

It is also possible that some health supplements can harm the human body if used in excess or without following manufacturer’s instructions. As just about any doctor will tell you, just because a supplement is truly “natural” doesn’t mean that it can harm the body. Some natural products have the ability to cause serious negative reactions in some people. Yet these items can be taken from the store shelf by a shopper and purchased over the counter without prescription or any questions. It never hurts to ask a trusted physician about health supplements you may be considering.

Supplements from natural, safe herbs can provide anti-oxidants that assist the body in ridding itself of chemicals and other substances that may be in the food we eat, the air we breathe and water we drink. Among the supplements that may help in this area are Vitamin C, minerals such as manganese and zinc, as well as lycopene and cysteine.

Foods such as carrots, apricots and cantaloupe are excellent sources of certain anti-oxidants. So are most leafy, green vegetables, tomatoes and pink grapefruit. Vitamin C is in most fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as in some grains and meats. This vitamin is well-known as an important anti-oxidant. In addition, some individuals get excellent health supplement benefits from such items as almonds, corn and broccoli (Vitamin E).

Written by Lucas Beaumont

Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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