Dietary supplements are taken for various purposes, some of which are outlined below.
- A team of medical researchers have identified a natural substance whith the ability to protect cells against DNA damage and thus against the degenerative disease of ageing. This substance comes from a plant Uncaria tomentosa. This substance not only acts as a DNA-protector, but has anti-ageing abilities in that it also helps to repair DNA damage.
- For generations, Ashaninka Indians in Peru used teas made of the bark or roots of Uncaria tomentosa as a contraceptive, as well as for the treatment of a variety of health disorders including cancer, arthritis and infectious diseases.
- It is said that a combination of exercise and a vitamin E supplement may help slow the ageing process.
- Some scientists say that daily folic acid suppliements could improve DNA stability and reduce the risk of certain cancers linked to faults in the genetic code.
Many sportsmen and sportswomen take dietary supplements in order to improve their sporting performance. The following are some considerations around the taking of these supplements :
- Many supplements may contain banned substance and there is a chance that not all the ingredients are accurately listed on the label of a supplement product.
- Supplements should only be taken when there is proof taht the diet cannot provide the quantities of nutrients needed. A nutritional evaluation by a dietician (with sports nutrition experiance) should determine if any deficiencies are present in the diet and supplements can be supplied accordingly.
- Dosages of supplements need to be calculated to avoid overdose.
- Individuals may respond differently to supplements and this needs to be taken into consideration. Any diet and supplement changes should be tested well before a major competiution.
Vegetarian diets , which are similar to vegan diets, have been credited with lowering the risk of colon cancer, heart attack, high blood cholestrol, high blood pressure, prostate cancer, and stroke. Because a poorly managed vegan diet can lead to reduced levels of calcium , iodine , and vitamins B12 and D, vegans are encouraged to take dietary supplements for these essential substances.
Women who are pregnant usually take supplements of iron and calcium. Higher levels of these nutrients than what would normally be found in the diet are required for the formation of blood and healthy bones in the foetus.