Nutrition and nutritional supplementation

Every one of us is health-conscious. In order to eat healthily we should pay particular attention to the content of the food that we eat and the nutrients it contains. Count calories and keep to regular mealtimes. We want the best quality for ourselves and our closest relatives, but by eating highly processed food and in a rush we do not absorb enough valuable nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals), or they are not absorbed well enough. We seek a solution to this problem in dietary supplements.

Supplement, not replace

All dietary supplements are provided with a note 'The product must not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet'. This important note informs us of the substances that should be included in our diet because they are difficult to absorb or are not included in our diet. Supplement does not mean replace. A balanced diet is one which includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, raw steamed products, minimally processed, and will never be replaced by a handful of vitamin or mineral tablets. Many supplements (especially in the form of tablets) also include substances that are not needed by the body and are cleared out by the liver. The liver is an organ that will not let harmful substances through to the bloodstream. By cleaning the blood, it 'poisons' itself. Taking many tablets will cause the liver to stop any superfluous substances that are required for creating the 'carrier' of the supplement, from further circulation.

What are dietary supplements?

 

It is difficult to unambiguously define dietary supplements. These substances are constantly tested and their composition and significance for human health arouse controversy among dieticians, doctors and pharmacists. More significantly, it has not been defined what quantity of vitamins and minerals in the diet is safe.

Each dietary supplement is treated as a substance consisting of a valuable source of nutrients and substances with a physiological effect. Dietary supplements may be introduced into circulation in the form of capsules, tablets, sachets with powder or ampoules with liquids that may be consumed in strictly defined quantities. According to the definition of dietary supplements, these substances may be used only when we are not able to supply our body with the required amount of vitamins or minerals for a number of different reasons.

There are also more official definitions of dietary supplements. According to the Law of 25 August 2006 on Food Safety and Nutrition, dietary supplements are substances that are intended to complement the diet. These substances constitute a concentrated source of minerals, vitamins and other compounds that may be consumed in specified quantities for a particular nutritional purpose. The law clearly indicates that dietary supplements do not have medicinal properties (in the light of pharmaceutical law). They may not be used for fighting diseases – medicines have a proven therapeutic potential and are required to undergo clinical tests. Contrary to medicines, dietary supplements are not registered as medicinal products. What is more, their composition is variable and depends on the market prosperity.

Dietary supplements may include substances based on vitamins, minerals or other compounds that have particular nutritional or physiological values. This means that a dietary supplement may not only contain vitamins or minerals but also amino acids, lecithin, fibre or certain fatty acids. Besides they may also be enriched with compounds of plant or animal origin, such as shark cartilage or coenzyme Q10.

 

The application of dietary supplements is related to certain benefits. These products may not only nourish the organism or supply the daily diet with valuable nutrients, but also improve concentration and memory, vitalise or even protect the body against the impact of harmful factors such as air pollution or UV radiation. Supplements may become a perfect alternative for a diet, especially for those who do not care about a balanced diet. What is more, vitamins, minerals and compounds that are ingredients of dietary supplements additionally take part in different biological processes taking place in the human body. They may support the functions of the nervous, cardio-vascular and skeletal systems.

 

Read more: Definition of dietary supplements

'Dietary supplements are products composed of nutrients and regarded as complementation to ordinary food. They are concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals or other substances. They are manufactured in a form that enables dosage (tablets, capsules, powder or liquid)'.

Dietary supplementation consists in the complementation of the daily diet with components that we do not include in our food and that are indispensable for proper functioning of the body. Do we need dietary supplements? No, not if we eat healthily and our diet is perfectly balanced. The exceptions to this are ill people whose bodies are not capable of absorbing sufficient amounts of certain substances. But dietary supplements are not aimed at such people, but food for special medical purposes (which is also manufactured by IOC). Unfortunately, most of us can only dream about a perfectly balanced diet. We are living in busy times when it is hard to treat nutrition with due diligence, eat systematically 5 times a day at a fixed time, or balance each meal in terms of nutrition and calorie content. Research suggests that less than 10% of us eat 5 meals a day. For each meal to be properly absorbed by the body, chunks of food need to be chewed about 40 times. Who does this? All those who do not will find help from the producers of functional food (fortified food, dietary supplements, foodstuffs for special medical and nutritious purpose).

Supplementation is not required by anyone who systematically eats 5 times a day, whose meals are well balanced, eats not highly-processed food, chews each chunk at least 40 times and is not exposed to stress – someone with a healthy lifestyle and diet.

Read more: Should taking dietary supplements receive consideration

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