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Majority of American Adults Consume Dietary Supplements 

Supplements are useful way to get nutrients but shouldn’t replace healthy eating

 

DAYTON, Ohio (January 13, 2014) – More than 20 years ago Nancy Fickas was facing oral surgery that would require her mouth to be wired shut for up to a month after the procedure.

Her first concern was how she was going to nourish herself, but the only advice she received was to drink a lot of milkshakes and not get concerned about the extra pounds she would gain. Drinking unhealthy shakes for several weeks wasn’t a good answer for her after she had just gotten her weight under control and as she continued to manage other health issues.

She did her own research and found the answer in liquid dietary supplements. The results were surprising. Fickas not only was able to nourish herself during that time, but discovered she actually felt better after her surgery than she had in any other time of her life. That’s why for the past two decades, Fickas has made dietary supplements a regular part of maintaining a health lifestyle.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a person’s nutritional needs should be met primarily by consuming foods, however, in special situations like Fickas’ post-surgery, that’s not always a possibility for many adults. Unexpected circumstances, an ever-increasing offering of processed foods – whether at the grocery store or in restaurants - and limited access to fresh, nutrient-rich foods can keep a person from getting what their body needs. In cases of unavailability of healthy foods or a person’s health preventing the consumption of a good variety of foods, dietary supplements are a great option.

“If you can eat a truly healthy, fresh diet – and you are healthy yourself – you are probably going to get all the essential nutrients you need including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fats,” said Dale Block, MD, a Premier HealthNet physician with Premier Family Care of Mason. “Unfortunately, today we have people who are eating a lot of processed foods. Processing removes the essential nutrients prohibiting a person from absorbing the vitamins and minerals they need. In this case, they would require some type of supplementation.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, the majority of adults in America take one or more dietary supplements either every day or occasionally. Scientific evidence shows that some dietary supplements are beneficial for overall health and managing some health conditions. For example, calcium and vitamin D are important for keeping strong bones and folic acid decreases the risk of certain birth defects.

The challenge, however, is helping individuals understand what a dietary supplement really is and whether the one they are taking is safe and effective. A dietary supplement is a product that is consumed and that contains one or more dietary ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein or individual amino acids. It is usually taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet or liquid and is labeled on the front as being a dietary supplement. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, however, but must follow good manufacturing practices and cannot claim to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent a disease.

It is important to remember that a dietary supplement is just that: a supplement to a healthy diet, Dr. Block said. Patients should never take supplements in place of a healthy diet or think that a certain vitamin or mineral excuses them from practicing good nutrition. Moreover, patients should discuss their use of supplements with their physician. Many supplements can interact with prescription drugs. Also, it’s important to take the right dosage of certain supplements – such as fat soluble ones that the body does not excrete if it is not needed. This can cause major health issues.

“Patients who are considering a dietary supplement should begin by evaluating their diet,” Dr. Block said. “A healthy diet is the foundation. If it appears that they’re not getting enough through a healthy diet – if they are fatigued, have bowel changes or are not cognitively sharp, for instance – then they should consider researching their options through reputable resources and consulting their physician.”

To find out more about dietary supplements or to find a Premier HealthNet physician near you, visit www.premierhealthnet.com/doctor.

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