Dietary supplements, vitamins, and herbs have been used throughout history as natural remedies for all sorts of ailments and disorders.
Whether you are a bodybuilder or trying to lose some weight, dietary supplements can help you achieve your goals. The technical definition of supplements includes vitamins, minerals, herbs, fatty acids, and amino acids.
Vitamins are organic compounds required by the body in tiny amounts. Any nutrient that cannot be synthesized by the body in sufficient amounts are called vitamins. Many vitamins can be obtained through a balanced diet, but this is not always the case. Sometimes you will require more than can be obtained through diet alone and a vitamin supplement must be used.
The term vitamin does not include essential dietary minerals or amino acids. Vitamins can serve any number of functions including functioning as hormones, antioxidants, cell function regulators, and even as catalysts for metabolism.
Vitamin deficiencies can lead to a number of diseases. One of the most famous cases of vitamin deficiency is scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C. Historically, scurvy primarily affected sailors and pirates that were at sea longer than perishable fruits and vegetables could be stored. In order to help prevent scurvy, the British began to keep add lime juice to their daily ration. (This is where the term “limey” originated.)
On the other extreme there are cases of vitamin overdose. Although vitamin overdose is rare and seldom lethal, it can happen. The primary side effects are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The amount needed for vitamin overdose varies greatly depending on the age, weight, and overall health of the individual. Most cases of vitamin overdose occur in children under the age of 6.
The phrase dietary minerals is a little bit misleading because “minerals” are not needed, but rather ions. This is, of course, a technicality. In any case, some dietary minerals are essential for healthy bodily functions. As with vitamins, a majority of minerals can be obtained through a balanced diet, but not always.
Herbal remedies and herbal teas have been used throughout the world throughout history. Herbs are valued for their supposed medicinal properties, flavor, scent, and even cultural or religious significance.
Herbal remedies are used by a majority of the world’s population due it being inexpensive compared to pharmaceuticals. Many proponents of herbal medicine agree that pharmaceutical medicine is best for immediate results, such as the case of life-threatening situations. However, they believe that herbal medicine is best for long-term care.
Many pharmaceutical medicines have been discovered because of research done into herbal medicine. Over 7,000 medicines are derivatives of plants/herbs. Some herbs have the added luxury of being able to be taken as a spice or even as a tea, which may make them more desirable for some who dislike taking numerous pills.
Amino acids are essential components of enzymes and hormones which help regulate growth, digestion, and maintaining a strong immune system.
There are 8 amino acids that are essential to human health. They are essential because they cannot be synthesized by the body. Proteins will break down to amino acids, which help the body’s nutrition. A diet lacking in amino acids or protein (something that occurs with some vegetarians and vegans) requires amino acid or protein supplements.