What is a Dietary Supplement?


Dietary supplements are so popular that more than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion. These supplements can help you get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs to remain healthy. However, what exactly are dietary supplements? Here is a brief rundown of what exactly a dietary supplement is, the pros and cons, and the reasons why you should consider adding dietary supplements to your daily routine. 

What Are Dietary Supplements?

A dietary supplement is typically a pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid that is manufactured to supplement the diet. These supplements can provide nutrients that are either extracted from food sources or synthetic, individually, or in combination. They are typically ingested orally and are consumed once per day. Here are some common supplements:

  • Multivitamins - The most commonly used dietary supplement, contains multiple different vitamins
  • Omega-3 or fish oil 
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D 
  • Vitamin C 
  • Spermidine 

Studies have shown that those who take dietary supplements are more likely to try and eat a healthy, balanced diet. It is recommended that before taking dietary supplements, you consult with your doctor to ensure the supplement is safe for you. It’s also recommended that you research companies and products before making a purchase. 

What Does a Dietary Supplement Do?

Dietary supplements are designed for those looking to add nutrients to their diet that they otherwise would miss. Most experts and doctors would recommend getting the nutrients you need through your diet if at all possible. However, it can often be difficult. For example, it’s difficult for vegetarians or vegans to get their recommended weekly dose of fish oil and Omega-3 without supplements. 

It can also be difficult to get the proper amount of vitamins and minerals needed the older that you get. This is because those who are over the age of 50 will require more minerals, vitamins, and nutrients than younger people. Because of this, doctors will often recommend dietary supplements to their older patients to ensure they get the nutrients that they need to remain healthy. 

What Are The Pros And Cons of Dietary Supplements?

As is the case when purchasing a dietary supplement or any other type of supplement, it’s highly recommended that you do your due diligence before making a purchase. The research will help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of supplements. Here are some of the benefits of dietary supplements:

  • Supplement a poor diet - It’s no secret, it can be difficult to get the proper amount of nutrients you need through your diet. Factor in that most Americans don’t practice a healthy diet to begin with and you have a malnourished disaster on your hands. Many people turn to supplement to help make up for the shortfalls of their everyday diet
  • Disease prevention - Vitamin D is an incredible important nutrient that helps maintain strong bone health while also helping the body fight off a significant number of diseases. Unfortunately, very few foods contain vitamin D. That’s why so many doctors recommend vitamin D supplements. 
  • Disease treatment - It’s important to note that due to FDA regulations, supplement manufacturers are not allowed to make any health claims about their products. However, there is some research that points to dietary supplements helping with disease treatment. For example, research has found that garlic supplements can help drop high blood pressure levels

As we mentioned earlier, it’s very important for you to weigh both the pros and cons of dietary supplements. Now that we have established the pros, let’s focus on the cons:

  • Supplements aren’t as good as the real thing - While supplements can help you get the nutrients and minerals that you need, at the end of the day, it’s best that you try to get these nutrients through your diet. This is because supplements lack the valuable complexity of nutrient combinations found in food
  • You may not absorb high dosages - Your body may only absorb some of the dietary supplements you take
  • Supplements may clash with your medication - If you are taking prescribed drugs, you will need to be very careful when it comes to taking dietary supplements. This is because potentially dangerous combinations can materialize
  • It may ruin your diet - It’s unfortunate, but many people believe that since they take dietary supplements, they don’t have to practice a balanced and healthy diet. This is not the intent of supplements. Supplements should be used to compliment a healthy diet, not replace one

These are some of the points to consider before making a dietary supplement purchase. We can’t stress enough the importance of consulting with your doctor before beginning a regimen of supplements. 

Do Dietary Supplements Help You Lose Weight?

One of the most commonly asked questions pertains to dietary supplements and weight loss. Do dietary supplements help you lose weight? It’s important to note that while many dietary supplement companies claim their product can help you lose weight, they can not legally say for sure due to FDA regulations. 

If your number one goal when taking dietary supplements is to lose weight without practicing a healthy lifestyle, you aren’t going to get the results you were hoping for. Again, these supplements were not made to replace a healthy diet. Instead, these products should be used alongside a healthy diet to help you maximize your results. 

Why Take a Dietary Supplement?

One of the most common reasons why people take dietary supplements is because they are available without prescription and are easy to consume (1). That’s why more than half of Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion. These supplements can include vitamins, minerals, and herbal products. 

Dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as foods, not as drugs. The label may claim certain health benefits. But unlike medicines, supplements can’t claim to cure, treat or prevent a disease. The effects of many supplements haven’t been tested in children, pregnant women and other groups.

Supplements Can Help

A healthy lifestyle extends beyond your diet and fasting. Pairing your healthy lifestyle with exercise and a regular supplement regimen can help enhance the positive effects of dieting and fasting. Compounds such as spermidine can help induce autophagy throughout your body but can be difficult to consume by your diet alone. 

Autophagy becomes increasingly important as you get older and your cells become more and more worn down. Supplements can be beneficial because it can be difficult to get your recommended daily intake of spermidine through your diet alone. By taking a spermidine capsule with your dinner, you ensure that you always get your daily dose of spermidine. 


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  • Don Moxley - Director of Applied Science

    Don Moxley is the Director of Applied Science at Longevity Labs. Moxley draws upon his career as an athlete, a sports scientist, and an instructor to lead and educate on the science of autophagy and longevity.