Health | Benefits Of The Most Commonly Prescribed Supplements

Benefits Of The Most Commonly Prescribed Supplements
In today’s world, the use of nutritional supplements has become immensely popular. You really can’t avoid seeing one advert or the other promising so many health benefits.
Apparently, the population tends to trust these supplements so much that so many people actively take these medications without caring if they really do work or what their side effects are.
The question we all should be asking is if it is important for everyone to take supplements, and if yes, which ones we should all take.The honest truth is that many times, the use of these drugs are completely unnecessary and a waste of money (some of them could be quite expensive). Having a good diet is typically enough to cater to your body’s nutritional needs. Taking too much of a particular nutrient can be unnecessary and sometimes harmful, except when you have been diagnosed with a deficiency of that particular nutrient.

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You have to also realize that supplements are usually not regulated by the government, companies pretty much have a free pass to produce many products and advertise them without any governmental tests and quality checks. This is why you MUST be cautious and discuss with your doctor before taking them.
Sometimes, there is a legitimate need for dietary supplementation, usually when there is a deficiency of that nutrient. We’ll quickly look at 5 commonly prescribed supplements, who they are for, and their benefits.

1. Iron

Iron is a very important part of our diet for one major reason, it is a major constituent of haemoglobin- the protein that helps our red blood cells carry oxygen. Without enough iron in our blood, there may not be enough red cells, also the ones available will have a lower capacity to carry oxygen. When haemoglobin levels get very low, anaemia forms - a condition that can cause tiredness, weakness, fast breathing, and even death if left untreated.
Dietary sources of iron include seafood, lean meat, and vegetables.
Pregnancy, blood loss, and a poor diet are common causes of iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency anemia can be treated by the use of iron supplements and blood transfusion in severe cases.

2. Folic Acid

Just like iron, folic acid supplementation is critically important in pregnancy.
Folic acid works to prevent the development of neural tube defects in babies. These are disorders that lead to problems with the development of the brain and/or spinal cord as the baby grows.
This is why women who are expecting to get pregnant or those who are already pregnant are usually advised to start taking folic acid supplements every day.
Folic acid also helps in the formation of red blood cells, so people who have anaemia (including those with sickle cell) are placed on daily folic acid supplementation.
Dietary sources of this important nutrient are dark green vegetables that are not overcooked. Overcooking lowers the nutrients present in vegetables. It is also found in cabbage, milk, and egg yolk.

3. Calcium

Calcium is the main element that makes up our bones and teeth. In fact, most of our body’s calcium is found in these structures. Without enough calcium in the body, bones could become brittle and osteoporosis could occur. Osteoporosis is quite common in people who have a poor-calcium diet and in elderly people. It can make people very susceptible to fractures when they have minor falls, so calcium is important in maintaining the bone health of elderly people so that they don’t need to get teak shower chair to bathe or to install transfer benches in their bathtubs while they are 65 years old.
Calcium is also needed by your heart, muscles, and nerves to work properly.
Dietary sources of calcium include fish, dairy products, and green vegetables.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is like a ‘brother’ to calcium. Your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb and retain calcium in the body. It works just like a hormone and is sometimes referred to as a pre-hormone.
Our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Yes, the sun helps us produce this vitamin, so people could be deficient in winter or if they stay indoors for extended periods. Having about 5-10 minutes of sun exposure about 2-3 times per week is usually enough time for our bodies to make this vitamin.
When it is deficient, rickets and osteomalacia can develop, where the bone density is very low, and in the legs could often form a ‘bow-shape’ in children.
Vitamin D is often prescribed alongside calcium tablets in elderly people to preserve their bone integrity and strength.
Dietary sources of vitamin D are cod-liver oil, eggs, chicken, and fish.

Read Next: 10 Uses Of Vitamins To The Body

Editor's Review:
This is a guest article by Dr. Charles-Davies, a licensed medical practitioner in Lagos. He also blogs at 25 Doctors.
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