Dietary Supplement Use & Abuse

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  • 0:01 Dietary Supplements
  • 0:42 Use of Dietary Supplements
  • 1:47 Abuse of Dietary Supplements
  • 2:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

What are dietary supplements? Do we really even need them? What for? And are they really dangerous to us? This lesson will cover the essential answers to these questions.

Dietary Supplements

Every morning, millions of us get up and take a little pill. Maybe it's a vitamin or mineral pill. Perhaps it's an herb. Some plop some protein powder down into some water or into a milkshake. Others take some extra fiber to help things move along.

All of these are examples of dietary supplements, sources of nutrients that are intended to provide additional nutrition to individuals who are otherwise not consuming enough of said nutrient.

The key word here is 'supplement.' It's supposed to be something added to complete a deficiency. Alas, many of us are using too many of these supplements, and we add way more to our diets than we need to.

The Use of Dietary Supplements

Let's provide some examples of dietary supplements and scenarios where we may need to use them.

Mike is a professional bodybuilder. He adds extra protein to his diet every single day to provide enough amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, to help his muscles repair themselves after working out and to build stronger and bigger muscles.

Janet has been told by her doctor she needs to get more vitamin D and calcium, a type of mineral, into her diet in order to help minimize the risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease that causes brittle bones.

Amy has anemia, a deficiency of red blood cells. In her case, it's caused by a lack of iron in her diet. And so, her doctor prescribes an iron supplement for her.

Rachel is pregnant, and her doctor told her to take folic acid, a type of B vitamin, in order to reduce the risk of her baby having birth defects.

Be it due to sports, disease, or major changes in life, such as pregnancy, dietary supplements play an important role in keeping people healthy!

The Abuse of Dietary Supplements

But, the flipside is that, as with anything else you put into your body, you may abuse it, even if unknowingly so. You may take too much of a supplement, and this may harm your body in the short term or in the long run.

For instance, taking too much of an iron supplement all at once can kill a person. Too much vitamin D can cause kidney damage. Large doses of vitamin C may cause stomach pain and even kidney stones.

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