What is a dietary supplement (biologically active additives)

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In this article, you will learn what dietary supplements are. Benefits of dietary supplements in nutrition, composition and content of natural substances. Details on the site.

Dietary supplements appeared 100 years ago. The world’s first alfalfa food supplement was created by the American chemist Carl Rehnborg. Today, the use of bio additives has become commonplace, and with the advent of the pandemic, the demand for them has grown tenfold. Vitamins and dietary supplements are taken for prevention, during various diseases, during periods of recovery.

What are dietary supplements?

Dietary Supplement is a biologically active food supplement. Useful substances come with food, but it is difficult to compensate for all the needs with one product. With a chronic lack of vitamins, microelements, macroelements, biosorbents, micronutrients, homeostasis is disturbed, and with it the work of individual organs and systems. In addition, there are substances that the body cannot produce, but urgently needs them. Dietary supplements are a source of substances to fill potential nutritional deficiencies. By supplementing your diet with dietary supplements, you can restore and maintain some body functions. According to scientific studies, the regular use of dietary supplements reduces the risk of deficient conditions by 80%.

Types of additives

Biologically active additives are divided into three large groups according to their composition and directed action – nutraceuticals, parapharmaceuticals, eubiotics.

Nutraceuticals include vitamins and vitamin-like agents – precursors of vitamins, amino acids, macro and microelements, polyunsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates (monosaccharides and disaccharides), fiber, and some enzymes. Their action is aimed at preventing diseases, slowing down the aging of the body, increasing life expectancy, maintaining the efficiency of organs and systems, and improving overall health. Nutraceuticals work on the principle of a cumulative effect. To achieve the result, the bioactive agent needs to be taken for a long time. However, after the end of the intake, their concentration in the body remains even longer.

The group of parapharmaceuticals includes biological agents containing such components

  • peptides;
  • bee products (honey, propolis, royal jelly);
  • organic acids;
  • plant antioxidants (bioflavonoids);
  • glycosides;
  • essential oils;
  • nitrogen-containing organic compounds (alkaloids);
  • bile.

Despite the fact that parapharmaceuticals have pharmacological activity, they do not belong to drugs that are prescribed for the treatment of certain diseases.

Eubiotics are dietary supplements of probiotics and prebiotics based on living microorganisms and/or their metabolites. The main task of such nutritional supplements is to restore and maintain the bacterial composition of the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract.

When are supplements needed?

The scope of biologically active agents is practically unlimited. The main indications include:

  • low immune status;
  • decreased attention, memory;
  • general weakness, increased fatigue;
  • pregnancy;
  • intense loads, the need to mobilize the body;
  • violation of the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • chronic diseases;
  • postoperative period;
  • recovery after illness;
  • elderly age;
  • psycho-emotional instability;
  • menopause.

Before using a bioactive agent, you need to carefully study its composition and purpose. Ideally, discuss taking a beneficial supplement with your doctor.

The difference between dietary supplements and drugs

Dietary supplements are sold in pharmacies, but each package indicates that this is not a drug. There are three differences between pharmaceuticals and food supplements:

Compound. Most drugs are xenobiotics – substances that are foreign to the body. They operate effectively, but are created artificially. Dietary supplements are made up of natural ingredients. They are compatible with cells, tissues, and biochemical processes.

Action. Medicines have a targeted effect – treatment of a disease, destruction of infectious agents, cancer cells, etc. At the same time, they work quite aggressively, so they often cause side effects. Bioadditives improve health in general, making up for the lack of essential substances. They are non-toxic, act gently, and do not provoke side effects.

How to choose a dietary supplement?

The choice of agent depends on the application. Today you can find dietary supplements for all occasions. In spring and autumn, when the body needs help to resist seasonal infections, supplements can be used to boost immunity. If it is not possible to avoid the disease, dietary supplements for a cold will help you recover faster. Before taking a dietary supplement along with medications, you should consult your doctor. Dietary supplements can accelerate the excretion of the drug or worsen (slow down) its absorption, which is fraught with a decrease in the therapeutic effect.

With intense physical exertion, playing sports, funds for an active lifestyle will help to increase endurance. Many of them contain taurine, an amino acid that eliminates krepatura, muscle spasms.

For people with chronic diseases or a predisposition to them, complexes of directed action have been developed:

  • for the genitourinary system;
  • to improve the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • for the cardiovascular system.

With arthritis, arthrosis, joint problems, you can use dietary supplements for the musculoskeletal system. They often contain calcium for strong bones, glucosamine, chondroitin, or cinquefoil for joints.

You can support and improve cognitive function with a memory supplement. During periods of increased psycho-emotional stress, under stress, the body needs additional magnesium. You can replenish the reserves with the help of magnesium-based supplements. Some of them contain additional components (potassium, vitamin B6).

Since adults and children have different daily nutrient intakes, separate vitamins are provided for children and adolescents. Another group is dietary supplements for external use, represented by ointments, creams, gels, balms.


Each package is accompanied by instructions indicating the dosage. For an adult, 1-2 capsules (tablets) per day are enough. It is desirable to drink at the same time in order to maintain a constant concentration of the active substance in the blood. Take the supplement before meals or after – depends on the composition. Some dietary supplements are available in the form of drops. There are also children’s options for dietary supplements in the form of chewable sweets.



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