The Role of Supplements in Nutrition: What You Need to Know


Eating food isn’t just about filling your stomach. It is much more than that. We eat food every day to get nutrition. The nutrition our body needs is only provided by healthy foods and vegetables. But most of the time, our bodies don’t get enough nutrition from food. Our body needs nutrition to stay healthy.

The Indian standard diet isn’t nutritious as compared to the standard diets of other countries. In general, the average Indian food is high in nutrients such as carbohydrates and saturated fat and low in protein and cholesterol. As a result, Indians don’t get enough nutrients from their food. Here, you will learn about the role of supplements in our nutrition.

Standard Indian diet

Diversity in Indian culture has much to do with diversity in the Indian diet. Food is different in every part of this vast country. You’ll find that Indian food is rich in taste and spices. Species is one of the ingredients found in almost all Indian food. Indi’s average diet is focused on using natural ingredients and avoiding meat at all costs.

It is no secret that obesity and diabetes continue to be concerning health issues in India. According to some research, the number of cases of diabetes is increasing at an astonishing rate. At present, there are an estimated 72.96 million diabetes cases in the adult population of the country. The situation is alarming, and India has been named the world’s diabetes capital.

With all the spices, fruits, and vegetables in our diet, where are we lacking? Is the consumption of fast food to blame, or is it the Indian diet that needs to be held accountable? The problem with our diet is that it’s not balanced. Even though nutritional requirements differ for various populations, the allocated calorie intake for each person should be met.

In India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) sets up nutritional advisory committees or expert groups and recommends dietary allowances concerning calories, proteins, fats, minerals, iron, vitamins, etc. for different age groups in the population. To enable policymakers to plan for the production of the required quantities of nutrients, the ICMR makes recommendations.

The most recent recommendation was made by the expert group of ICMR in 1990. The recommendation concerning energy (calories) and protein is as follows: In terms of protein intake, one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight was allocated. For example, if your weight is 70 kg, you should consume 70 grams of protein daily.

In terms of energy, a person with 60 kg of weight doing any sitting activity should get 2425 Kcal of energy. For a man doing moderate exercise, the limit is 2875 kcal of energy. For a man doing heavy activity, the limit is 3800 kcal of energy. Concerning women, sitting activity has 1875 kcal of energy, moderate activity needs 2225 kcal of energy, and heavy activity needs 2925 kcal of energy.

Because the standard Indian diet is low in protein, it is not possible to fulfill daily protein intake by food alone. That’s why we need to take supplements to fill our nutritional needs.

Following are the recommended levels of nutrients you need daily.

  1. Calcium: 1,000-1,200 mg.
  2. Iron: 8 mg.
  3. Vitamin A: 700 mcg.
  4. Vitamin B6: 1.5 mg.
  5. Folate: 400 mcg.
  6. Vitamin B12: 2.4 mcg.
  7. Vitamin C: 75 mg.
  8. Vitamin D: 600-800 IU
  9. Vitamin E: 15 mg.

What are supplements?


Dietary supplements are a variety of nutritional components like minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and other nutrients taken in forms such as pills, capsules, gum, etc. The most common examples of supplements include multivitamins, minerals, amino acids, botanicals, and probiotics. One can also include protein powders and weight-loss supplements in this category.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, supplements mean something that completes or makes an addition. That’s the purpose of supplements in our diet—to help the individual bridge the gap between usual dietary intake and nutrient needs. The nutrient requirement is not always fulfilled by our food, and that’s when supplements come into play.

For example, during pregnancy, women are in immediate need of nutrients. There is an increase in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and folic acid, in particular, to help in pregnancy. Supplements are a good source to fulfill daily needs for nutrients that can’t be met by food alone.

The importance of supplements

As said earlier, the Indian standard diet is full of carbohydrates and sugars and lacks important nutrients. Lacking important nutrients and vitamins like protein, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, fiber, etc. will leave you prone to chronic diseases. Taking supplements helps consume those nutrients and vitamins that you don’t get from your diet.

Supplements may take the risks of chronic diseases away and prove beneficial for you. It is important to get enough nutrients and vitamins, and supplements will help you get them. There are various types of supplements, like calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, folic acid, multivitamins, fiber, joint supplements, vitamin C, melatonin, vitamin B12, etc. All these supplements have various health benefits. Some of them we will discuss below.

Types of Supplements

  1. Vitamin D

The first nutrient on the list is vitamin D. It is essentially necessary for all, as it strengthens and keeps our bones strong. A deficiency in vitamin D will result in brittle bones and weakness in muscles. There are most often no symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, and doctors don’t usually check the levels. So, you may be deficient and not realize it.

Only a handful of foods have significant amounts of vitamin D, but fear not; the human body naturally receives and makes this vitamin in the sunshine. Try to get direct exposure to sunlight for a good amount of time so that you reach the required level. The best time to get exposure to sunlight is in the summer at midday. 13 minutes of sunlight exposure is enough.

Supplement: A good-quality supplement of vitamin D is also a good option. You need to get a supplement that contains vitamin D3. It is good for adults to take 600 IU of vitamin D every day. A nutritional expert at Forbes Health recommended the NOW Vitamin D-3 supplement. It is in the form of D3-cholecalciferol. This supplement comes in capsules, softgels, liquids, and chewable tablets. It comes in a variety of dosages, like 400 IU, 1,000 IU, 2,000 IU, 5,000 IU, and 10,000 IU. It is soy-free and non-GMO.

  1. Probiotics

In simple language, probiotics are generally called good bacteria. Probiotics help us to maintain a good and healthy community of microorganisms; they also help the microorganisms in our body to return to good health. These ‘good’ bacteria are typically found in foods such as yogurt, fermented food, etc. Probiotics are just live microorganisms that provide good health benefits.

Supplement: Forbes Health recommends NOW Probiotic-10. This supplement’s serving size is 1 capsule. Contains probiotic strains like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus plantarum, etc. This supplement has a good balance of live organisms to help your body. The supplement is free of dairy, soy, and gluten. It is of paramount importance to take the supplements at specific doses that vary from person to person. It would be good to consult your doctor before taking any probiotic supplement.

  1. Fish oil

Fish like salmon and sardines have high amounts of healthy fats known as omega-3s, which lower the risk of heart disease. Having the necessary omega-3 levels is crucial for proper cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, etc.  Fish oil supplements have been shown to regulate blood pressure, maintain a healthy body weight, and regulate immune function.

Fish oil supplements provide our bodies with essential omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t get enough fish, you can turn to fish oil supplements with omega-3s, like EPA and DHA. Individuals need to have 500-900 mg of omega-3 fatty acids to meet their daily optimum levels. If you take the supplement, the FDA recommends you take the pill dosage to less than 2 grams per day of EPA and DHA combined.

  1. Calcium

You don’t need a calcium supplement unless your doctor recommends it. Calcium is a mineral in our bones and teeth; getting enough levels of calcium will help prevent the development of bone disease. If you can’t get enough calcium from your diet, you can try supplements. The team at Forbes Health consulted well-qualified nutrition experts to recommend the best calcium supplements. Here is what they recommended.

The nutritional experts recommended Nature Made Calcium 600 Mg, with Vitamin D3 Softgels. This supplement is made by nature and consists of 600 mg of calcium and 10 micrograms of vitamin D3. You should take one softgel with water and food between one and two times a day. The supplement is free from any artificial flavors and is gluten-free.

  1. Magnesium

Magnesium supplements are crucial for health benefits, as we need more than 600 enzyme reactions in our body. People at risk of magnesium deficiency are those who consume diets high in processed foods, have diabetes, drink alcohol, suffer from vitamin D deficiency, etc. Low levels of magnesium will lead to the weakening of bones, an irregular heartbeat, blood pressure, blood sugar issues, anxiety, muscle cramps, etc.

Experts at Women’s Health suggest a Nature Made Magnesium Glycinate supplement. This supplement is easily digestible and has great all-around benefits. It is gentle on the stomach and supports muscle relaxation, bone health, heart health, and nerve health. Its serving size is 2 capsules a day. It is gluten-free, It includes ingredients like citric acid, water, magnesium stearate, gelatin, stearic acid, cellulose gel, and silicon dioxide.

What to look for in supplements?

There are lots of supplements available in stores; you need to pick the genuine ones among the fakes. You will notice that fake supplements often contain banned and harmful substances like steroids, harmful chemicals, and ingredients. These ingredients are unwanted and can have harmful effects on the body.

Here are some ways to distinguish between genuine and fake supplements on the market:

  1. Scan the barcode

Always look at the barcode. Nowadays, mobile phones support many apps that can read barcodes and QR codes. If the supplement is genuine, the scan will lead you to the website, where you can learn more about the product. A barcode is one of the best and most effective ways to check for authenticity.

  1. Check the seal and packaging


A fake product will always have spelling mistakes, unfamiliar fonts, errors in information, and different logos from the genuine ones. If the seal is tampered with, you must immediately return the supplements. Supplements made and manufactured by companies with poor infrastructure don’t have high-quality seals and packaging.

  1. Check if it’s approved by FSSAI

It is highly important to check if the supplement is approved by the Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI). All the supplements go through various rigorous tests and multiple quality checks before coming onto the market. So, you must check them.

  1. Check the MRP sticker

Fake supplements would have an MRP sticker, while the original genuine ones have a tag with the original hologram on them. With the MRP tag and hologram, it is pretty easy to find fake supplements compared to the original ones.

  1. Get supplements from reputable pharmacies and sites

Don’t buy your supplements from any pharmacy store or market. Whether it be a retail store or a website, always get supplements from reputable websites and pharmacies you can trust.

Are supplements good?

Supplements are indeed good for health, but the case is not the same for everyone. Supplements like vitamins, herbs, and minerals can help provide the necessary levels of nutrients and improve your overall health. There is a growing popularity of supplements. Multiple studies showed vitamin D as a solid defense against the lengthy list of diseases, like cancer, depression, diabetes, etc. Omega-3 fatty acids have been reputed to defend against strokes and other cardiovascular issues.

Most of the supplements tested have not yielded good results. The supplements that were found to have benefits in observation studies turned out, with rigorous testing, to be

ineffective and risky. In research by Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and principal investigator, she said, “Often the enthusiasm for these vitamins and supplements outpaces the evidence. And when the rigorous evidence is available from randomized controlled trials, often the results are at odds with the findings of the observational studies.”

It is great to get most of the nutrients from food. However, there comes a time when you won’t get enough nutrients and will have to use supplements. Whenever deciding on supplements, do enough research and consult a doctor. If you do choose a supplement, take one at a time. Always check the label for authenticity when buying any supplements.

The evidence about whether supplements work or not has not been studied enough. Research suggests that some supplements do what the manufacturers claim, while others say they don’t work. Supplements are also associated with side effects and various risks.


We learned about supplements and why we need them. Supplements are a good source of nutrients and vitamins when you can’t get them from your diet. You need supplements only when you have nutrient and vitamin deficiencies. If you are getting enough nutrients and vitamins from your diet, there is no need for supplements.

Supplements do have health benefits and can keep you healthy and prevent you from developing diseases. It is advised to do proper enough research and consult a doctor if you need supplements. Supplements are also proven to have some side effects, but they vary from individual to individual. With the growing demand, there are also fake supplements.

You need to thoroughly check the supplement for authenticity and genuineness. Buy your supplements from reputable websites and pharmacy stores that you can trust.



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