There are many definitions for a dietary supplement, but in essence, the supplement should add to the food you already eat, have at least one dietary ingredient, should be labeled as a dietary supplement and will usually come in capsule, pill, liquid or tablet form.
There are two main types of supplements available: vitamin and herbal. Vitamin or mineral supplements usually contain micronutrients that will help the body function run smoothly and stay healthy. Herbal (sometimes called botanical) supplements have some type of medicinal purpose and generally support one specific area of the body’s health, such as the bones, skin or liver.
Vitamins are a requirement for the body that the body can’t produce on its own. In most cases, you receive enough minerals and vitamins from the food you eat, but in some cases, this isn’t so. For those people who don’t get enough vitamins, they can take vitamin supplements, produced by supplement manufacturers. There are many different kinds of vitamins and minerals, including Zinc, Vitamin A and Vitamin E. Each vitamin helps with a different area of the body, though some vitamins can do more than one thing for the body. For example, vitamin E and C can both help to strengthen the immune system, but vitamin E will also help repair DNA.
Supplement manufacturers don’t necessarily work with doctors to sort out specific vitamin requirements, but many doctors recommend certain types of people to take certain supplements. For example, women who are in their child-bearing years should have extra iron and calcium. Other examples include pregnant women, children and teens, seniors, vegetarians, people on restrictive diets, people with medication conditions and eating disorders, along with people who eat a lot of fast food or processed foods.
All people may require the use of a vitamin supplement at some time in their life. For people who diet extremely or must cut out specific foods from their diets, such as red meat or bread, they may require extra supplements to get the nutrients they need. The same is true for people who are lactose-intolerant; they may have trouble with dairy, but they still need the calcium, so they may take a calcium supplement or Vitamin D.