A whole foods diet based on whole grains, lean protein, good fats and plenty of fresh produce is a great way to fuel the body. Focusing on these macronutrients helps ward off many diseases and revs up your engine.
However, that may not be enough.
A dietary supplement is defined by the United States Congress as “a product (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet that bears or contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients: vitamin; mineral; an herb or other botanical; an amino acid; a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake; or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract.”
Based on this definition, supplements are meant for what they are known as—to supplement the diet. In other words, they exist not to replace whole foods, but to fill whatever nutritional gaps the body has.
In order to supplement right, a person has to eat right. According to fitness and nutrition expert Dan Gastelu, conventional foods can be an unreliable source of key essential nutrients when it comes to eating for optimum health and athletic performance. He goes on to emphasise that conventional foods are typically low in specialty ingredients such as creatine and carnitine.
What’s more is that conventional foods are not designed for specific biochemical purposes such as promoting energy or growth hormone and testosterone production.
Gastelu summarises key advantages of dietary supplements below:
a. Controlled, consistent amounts f. Convenient, long shelf life
b. Target specific requirements g. Often less expensive than conventional foods on a nutritient basis
c. Concentrated, specific amounts h. Label / manufacturer uses instructions
d. Designed to be highly bioavailable i. Nutrient-dense, no overeating necessary to meet nutrient needs
e. Contains no calories or controlled caloric content
f. No taste to “tablet”-type supplements
Gastelu says that dietary nutrition supplements are designed to provide the body with a reliable source of essential nutrients to ensure adequate nutrition. Consumption results in enhanced athletic performance b y promoting bigger, faster and stronger muscles. The numerous ingredients used in supplements can have multiple functions to benefit health, structure and function of the body to help attain athletic performance and bodybuilding goals.
In addition, the 2000 version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans cautions against over-reliance on supplements but does acknowledge the need for supplements in some circumstances. Among these include the following:
• Supplements containing folic acid for women who could become pregnant
• Vitamin D supplements for older adults and others with little exposure to sunlight
• Calcium supplements for people who seldom eat dairy products
• B12 supplements for people over the age of 50, because their absorption of B12 from food may not be sufficient
• B12 supplements for people who eat no animal foods
• Iron supplementation for women during pregnancy
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) has the same recommendations as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To note, they also suggest multivitamin and mineral supplementation for people who are following severely restricted weight-loss diets.
To conclude, a good way to optimise and maximise nutritional benefits is to combine sound food choices with proper supplementation. Adding regular exercise and proper rest to the mix will make your formula for a healthy body more potent than ever.
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