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How Dietary Supplements and Nutraceuticals Differ


Blog Image: How Dietary Supplements and Nutraceuticals Differ

Whether prescribed by your doctor or self-elected, the general practice of taking substances to treat health conditions when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved their use is considered alternative care. Not all manufacturers seek FDA approval as a prescription drug. Avoiding the red tape reduces the amount of scientific evidence that must collected and presented to the government agency. In addition, FDA approval can be a lengthy process and one that may not be justified, as it would increase the price of the product.

Alternative care that relies on the intake of non-prescription drugs is often referred to as unconventional.  When a medical provider prescribes FDA-approved medicines in combination with supplements, it is called complementary. For example, your doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowing medication in combination with adding fish or krill oil supplements as a complementary therapy.

What Are Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements are defined as a vitamin, mineral, herb or other plant-based chemical used to supplement your total dietary intake. Dietary supplements are not whole foods in their natural form. The vitamins or minerals have been used to create a natural supplement.  Meal substitutes, such as Ensure or Boost, are also not dietary supplements but are considered fortified or functional foods. One of the first functional foods was Morton salt that contained iodine as an added ingredient.

What Are Nutraceuticals?

Nutraceuticals are supplements that contain a concentrated form of a substance that is not in food form but was derived from foods. For example, soy protein is a dietary supplement. However, iprilflavone is the synthetic derivative of isoflavone daidzein found in soy protein and is sold as a nutraceutical. Both dietary supplements and nutraceuticals can be purchased without prescription.

In an ideal world, it would be best to consume all the vitamins and minerals your body needs by eating real foods. Although it should be your goal to try and do so, due to how foods are produced, processed and packaged, it is unlikely that you can ingest everything you need from your daily intake. That's where the proper supplementation with dietary supplements and nutraceuticals play an important role in alternative care and completing your menu plan.

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