What is a food supplement?
According to the definition given by Directive 2002/46/EC of the European Parliament:
“Food supplements are foodstuffs whose purpose is to supplement the normal diet and which constitute a concentrated source of nutrients or other substances having a nutritional or physiological effect alone or combined, marketed in dose form. »
They are sold without a prescription. They are not medicines since they remain in physiological and non-therapeutic dosages.
It is advisable to consume them for prevention, to maintain normal health and reduce disease risk factors.
To obtain true effectiveness, they must be taken under optimal conditions. In fact, their aim is to prevent health but do not replace a varied, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Food supplements found on the market may consist of:
- Micronutrients, i.e. vitamins, minerals and trace elements, essential fatty acids (omega 3 or 6), proteins and amino acids
- Plants, including all plants but also algae and fungi
- Other substances with nutritional or physiological interest such as probiotics and enzymes
It is possible to find several of these substances in the same supplement. Blends of plants, vitamins, minerals, etc. can act synergistically and have a very beneficial effect on our health and well-being. These are real boosts.
Why take a food supplement?
Modern diets no longer always provide us with the sufficient quantities of vitamins and micronutrients that our body needs. Indeed, in France, various surveys have revealed that there are micronutrient deficiencies within the population, with intakes lower than two-thirds of the ANC (Recommended Nutritional Intakes) for vitamins C, D, E, as well as magnesium and copper. These deficiencies are reinforced by a sedentary lifestyle, mental health problems, aging, pollution, etc. If they continue over time, they end up disrupting the functioning of the body and exposing us to risks: sleep, headaches, stress, irritability, digestive disorders, lack of concentration, etc.
Thus, supplementation helps restore dietary balance. It also supports the body on a daily basis and can help us achieve various goals, whether they concern beauty, well-being, sports performance or even health.
Automatically, some people will perhaps turn to medication. The food supplement makes it possible to reduce the use of medications and to move from a curative to a preventive vision of health. Indeed, in certain non-pathological situations, the supplement may suffice and therefore be recommended before the medication. The most telling example is the case of supplements intended for sleep disorders which make it possible to limit the use of sleeping pills or other medicinal treatments.
Food supplements are of course subject to controls by the DGCCRF (Directorate General for Consumer Competition and Fraud Control) which can refuse their marketing.
Which food supplement to choose?
There are so many brands, indications, galenics, compositions, origins, etc. that it does not make the choice of food supplements any easier. Here is some information that we think is important to take into account and which will surely help you in your choice.
The first thing to take into account when you want to buy a dietary supplement is your objective. Indeed, today, many people want to consume it to achieve a specific goal. It can relate to better health, getting back into shape, preventing illness, optimizing physical performance and many more.
Everything will also depend on what your body is sending you as a signal because any unusual change can be a sign of a deficiency or a need.
Microbes, viruses and fungi constantly try to cross the body's natural barriers to multiply. Fortunately, the latter is equipped with an internal protection system, the immune system, capable of fighting against parasites. Sometimes overworked, it is necessary to give him a little help. Micronutrition is an effective way to strengthen immunity, especially during seasonal changes, a phenomenon which destabilizes our immunity.
Here are some interesting assets:
- Vitamin D is essential for the activation of lymphocytes, cells which play a major role in the immune system. It is synthesized in the skin after sun exposure and is therefore lacking in winter.
- Iron contributes to the normal functioning of immune mechanisms.
- Vitamin C combined with zinc can also serve as a stimulant to the immune system.
- Propolis is considered an effective natural alternative to fight infections.
- Finally, echinacea and spirulina help support the immune system and increase our body's resistance.
Our daily lives are regularly punctuated by states of fatigue, physical or mental, which disrupt our quality of life. They can be triggered by our pace of life (sleep, physical activity, diet, etc.), psychological conditions (anxiety, stress, etc.), or a pathology and lead to a lack of tone and vitality.
Alongside a good sleep schedule and a balanced diet, there are several ingredients known to boost tone and vitality.
- Plants such as bacopa, guarana, acerola, spirulina, eleuthero and ginseng are known for their energizing effects.
- Vitamins from group B and C help reduce fatigue.
- Finally, iron and magnesium also help reduce fatigue.
Weight management is directly linked to the balance of our energy balance, i.e. the balance between our expenses and our daily intake. Certain behaviors or external factors such as lack of physical activity, malnutrition, hormonal activity, stress, fatigue, heredity or even taking medications can destabilize this energy balance and lead to weight gain.
Alongside a healthy lifestyle, it can be interesting to use plants to capture fat, detoxify and drain the body.
- Nopal and guarana are effective in weight management. They make it possible to capture dietary fats, reduce the absorption of carbohydrates, and therefore reduce assimilated calories.
- You can also use milk thistle or turmeric, which are rich in antioxidants. They will participate in the normal functioning of the liver, an organ involved in weight control, and thus facilitate the elimination of fat.
- Finally, there are interesting ingredients for their draining action. This is the case for birch, ash, green tea and cherry stem. They have a diuretic effect allowing the body to more easily eliminate accumulated waste.
Joint disorders affect a very large number of French people and can bother us on a daily basis. They are often due to aging, repetitive movements, intense efforts, excess weight or poor posture.
Alongside reasonable physical activity, trace elements, vitamins and plants can relieve and protect our joints:
- Vitamin C is involved in the formation of collagen, a protein present in bone, cartilage and tendon tissue. It therefore plays an important role in cartilage.
- Manganese is a trace element that plays an essential role in joints. It contributes to the normal formation of tissues and the maintenance of normal bones.
- Finally, harpagophytum, horsetail or turmeric help to maintain joint flexibility and mobility.
Certain challenges of daily life will cause anxiety or stress. These destabilizing emotions can become chronic if they are not controlled. Chronic stress should not be taken lightly, it can have physiological consequences on our body.
Certain active ingredients have benefits in managing stress and emotions.
- Lemon balm promotes relaxation as well as physical and mental well-being. It is often recommended in cases of overwork.
- Rhodiola helps the body adapt to emotional stress. This plant is recognized for its positive effects on morale, stress, anxiety, etc.
- Omega-3s help us better manage stressful situations. In fact, they promote the secretion of endocannabinoids, brain lipids which improve resistance to stress.
- Finally, magnesium is known to preserve nervous balance. It reduces the secretion of hormones and messengers responsible for stress.
Various factors can disrupt our digestive system. Antibiotics, poor lifestyle or even stress can unbalance our intestinal flora. This imbalance leads to an abnormal proliferation of bad bacteria and is often the cause of digestive disorders such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
It is possible to restore a good balance thanks to food supplements.
- Probiotics taken regularly can have beneficial effects on health. These are bacteria or yeasts which can help the digestive system by reinforcing the action of the micro-organisms of the intestinal flora.
- Calcium participates in the normal functioning of certain digestive enzymes. It is recognized as an activator of numerous enzymes, notably pancreatic enzymes.
- Vitamin B2 helps maintain the integrity of mucous membranes, including digestive mucous membranes.
- Finally, there are plants beneficial for the digestive system such as fennel. It fights digestive disorders thanks to its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Once your objective is clearly defined, you must be able to compare the supplements offered on the market. It is advisable to carefully look at the labels of the products which generally present the dosage, precautions for use, the composition of the product, the concentration, the origin, the naturalness and the galenic form.
In food supplements, an active ingredient is a substance chosen for its beneficial health properties. Its concentration is essential to justify the effectiveness of the product.
The form of the active ingredient used is also very important, as is the part of the plant. It allows the supplement to be assimilated optimally and to be well tolerated. We can take the example of minerals which must be in the form of “salts”. Depending on the salts used, mineral intake and assimilation will be different. The bisglycinate form of magnesium is, for example, better absorbed and tolerated than magnesium oxide even though it has a higher magnesium content.
The galenic form is the form in which the food supplement is presented (capsules, tablets, capsules, syrups, powders, gummies, etc.). It is generally adapted to the raw materials used to guarantee better concentration, protection and absorption of active ingredients. The choice of food supplement can obviously depend on your preference in terms of its dosage.
Be careful about the origin of the products you choose. Those that come from abroad are not subject to the same quality controls as in France and can sometimes even contain active ingredients prohibited by French legislation.
As for the naturalness of the product, you are surely wondering if they are to be preferred.
Indeed, food supplements are not all natural. They are when the term “natural origin” appears on the packaging, which guarantees the naturalness of the active ingredients used. However, it is important to understand that they cannot all be of natural origin because certain active ingredients are more effective and stable if they are synthesized like certain vitamins.
A supplement is a concentrated source of plants or nutrients loaded with active compounds that should be used wisely. For the most part, they all contain precautions for use that are important to follow. The dosage, i.e. the indication of the dosage and frequency of taking a medication, must be absolutely respected to avoid the risk of overdose. You must of course be careful when taking medical treatment alongside supplementation. The active substances of the complement could interact with the medication and limit its absorption, for example. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you suffer from a particular pathology or if you have the slightest doubt about the composition of a food supplement, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
You are now able to choose your food supplements!
You must of course remain patient before feeling the expected effects. No matter how you take them, they work long term, after several weeks of treatment.