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Dietary supplements - health benefits or health risks?

What is hidden under the frequently used abbreviation BAD?


Biologically active food additive, ordietary supplement - a special food product intended for consumption or introduction within the limits of physiological norms to food rations or food products in order to give them dietary, health-improving, therapeutic and preventive properties to ensure normal and restoration of impaired functions of the human body.


It is worth noting that the concept of "biologically active supplements" does not exist in Ukrainian legislation, instead, the Law of Ukraine "On the Quality and Safety of Food Products" defines dietary supplements as vitamin-mineral pills or powders that are taken together with regular food and improve the general state of health I am a person. That is, biologically active supplements are not medicinal products in the sense of the Law of Ukraine "On Medicinal Products". For the first time, the term nutraceuticals was proposed by Dr. Steven de Felice, founder and chairman of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM) in 1989 to describe food products and pharmaceutical production.


Dietary supplements
Dietary supplements

The dietary supplement market is very large. Such supplements are highly popular on a global scale. However, the world leader in demand for nutritional supplements is Japan, where 90% of the population consumes them, followed by India with 75%. And in the third USA - with 50%. The Ukrainians of the first three leaders are not competitors - according to some data, the number of those who use nutritional supplements from time to time does not exceed 10%, and on a permanent basis no more than 3% take them. However, there arepredictions, that in 2024 the market for biologically active supplements will be estimated at 56.7 billion dollars.


So why are dietary supplements so popular and what can they do for human health - benefit or harm? According to the UK National Health Service (NHS), we can get most of the vitamins and minerals we need from food. However, with the modern rhythm of life and in the conditions of an unstable ecological situation, taking additional dietary supplements can be extremely justified, especially for the "vulnerable" category of the population - children, the elderly and pregnant women.


  A multivitamin/mineral supplement is able to provide the body with all the necessary trace elements. They are generally safe because they only contain small amounts of each nutrient (as measured by the Daily Allowance, or DV). Therefore, the purpose of using dietary supplements is:

  • rationalization of nutrition of a specific person taking into account his physiological needs and energy consumption;

  • reducing the caloric content of the diet;

  • increase in non-specific resistance of the body;

  • targeted changes in metabolism;

  • binding and removal of toxic and foreign substances from the body;

  • normalization of intestinal microbiota.

Dietary supplements
Dietary supplements

Some dietary supplements can improve overall health and help treat certain diseases. Example:

  • Calcium and vitamin D help maintain bone strength and reduce bone loss.

  • Folic acid reduces the risk of some birth defects.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may help patients with heart disease.

  • A combination of vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin (known as the AREDS formula) may slow further vision loss in people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

On the other hand, one should not forget about the possible negative impact of dietary supplements. Example:

  • Thus, high doses of beta-carotene are associated with a greater risk of developing lung cancer among smokers,

  • overdose of vitamin A itselfcan lead toto nausea, vomiting and blurred vision.

  • excessive amounts of calcium and vitamin D potentially increase the risk of kidney stones.

  • Excess vitamin Ecanincrease our risks of having a stroke.

  • excess of vitamin B6 causes nervous system disorders.

  • As a result of long-term use in large doses, vitamin C can turn from an antioxidant into a pro-oxidant, which destroys the structure of cells.

  • Antioxidant supplements, such as vitamins C and E, can reduce the effectiveness of some types of cancer chemotherapy.


It is worth remembering that nutritional supplements are primarily supplements to food and the human diet in general. To date, a serious legislative framework has been developed in Ukraine, which concerns the production, certification and verification of bio-additives before they are released for sale. Experts recommend paying attention to registration documents and manufacturers' certificates and giving preference to well-known and time-tested products with a good reputation. Therefore, before deciding to take dietary supplements, it is worth understanding whether your body needs them and be sure to consult a doctor or pharmacist.


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