A nutritional supplement is anything designed to be an additional component to a healthy diet. These are not the same as traditional Western medicines and are not advertised as cures. There are many brands but they generally fall into two main categories.
The first type is a ready-made drink packed full of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals. These type of supplements are nutritionally balanced to help meet dietary needs. Because they are able to increase calorie intake, they are useful when people are undernourished, unwell and have poor appetites. Reaching a minimum number of calories is important to aid in recovery, prepare for surgery or chemotherapy and drinking is normally easier than eating when a person is ill. Once the person is back to eating normally, the supplement can be stopped.
According to The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines, these types of nutritional supplements should be considered in the following groups of people:
- Body mass index less than 18.5
- More than 10% weight loss in the past 3 to 6 months without trying
- Body mass index less than 20 and more than 5% weight loss over the past 3 to 6 months without trying
These types of supplements can also be used by people who wish to gain weight. Bodybuilders take specific types of protein shakes or amino acid supplements In order to increase muscle bulk.
The second type of nutritional supplements includes herbal or alternative medicines. These have a wide variety of purposes - anything from making hair shinier to regulating menstrual cycles; increasing appetite to reducing inflammation. Most of these have been used in different cultures for centuries but do not have enough scientific data to be considered a drug by Western medicine. They are therefore not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the USA or other such governing bodies. They may come in tablet, capsule, liquid or powder forms. Examples are numerous and include things like omega-3, probiotics and plant botanicals.
The amount, type, and form of supplement needed should be directed by a trained professional. This will prevent any interactions with existing foods and medications, complications or side effects and ensure you get the correct mix to best suit your needs. Contact one of our specialists at RingWell for more information.