Taking Supplements, Their Functions, Best Time to Take, and DSHEA

by Jason Duke - Owner/Artisan

Fresh Content: May 6, 2022 00:30

Dietary supplements are an important source of nutrition and unique constituents in our diet for promoting health, healing, and physical and mental performance.

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Dietary Supplement Definition

Turmeric Capsules are a Supplement 

Dietary supplements are ingestible food ingredients that are additional sources of nutrition and unique constituents to increase the density of nutrients in the diet and promote bodily functioning which are added to a balanced diet with complete meals to support, maintain, and promote health, wellness, and well-being.

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    Ingredients in Supplements

    Supplements are made up of ingredients.

    Ingredients are listed on the supplement label with the main active ingredients inside the supplement facts box and any additional ingredients underneath the box.

    Supplements may have many different kinds of ingredients:

    • Vitamins - A, B-spectrum, C, D, E, K
    • Minerals - Common, trace, and rare earth
    • Amino Acids - Building blocks of protein
    • Protein Powders - Made from dairy or plant sources
    • Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) - Omega 3 and 6
    • Botanicals - Spices, herbs, tonics, and medicinal remedies
    • Superfoods - Nutrient-dense foods
    • Others - Such as probiotics and other unique constituents

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    Constituents in Supplements

    Certain supplements, like botanicals and superfoods, are made up of constituents.

    Constituents are specific parts of a botanicals and superfoods that are the known and studied parts that work for benefits. Although constituents are not listed on the label, the botanical or superfood, in whatever form the supplement is taken, will contain the constituents.

    Examples of constituents that make up supplements:

    • Catechins like EGCG in tea
    • Polyphenols like curcumin in turmeric root
    • Saponins called ginsenosides in ginseng roots
    • Polysaccharides like beta-glucan in medicinal mushrooms
    • Lactones like withanolides in ashwagandha root

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    Types of Supplements

    Supplements come in many forms, consisting of dried or liquid:

    • Powder - fine loose dried
    • Pill or tablet - compressed powder
    • Capsule - enclosed powder
    • Gelcap or softgel - liquid capsule
    • Liquid - concentrated liquid suspension
    • Tincture - alcohol, glycerite, vinegar, or oil based liquid

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    Supplement Serving Size and Dosage

    The serving size of a supplement is listed on the label in the top of the supplement box; this is the suggested size for one serving. Additionally, the amount of daily servings may appear elsewhere on the label.

    Start with a minimum serving size the first couple times when beginning a new supplement.

    Dosage is a term used for a small serving size that are milligrams (mgs) or milliliters (mls) or International Units (I.U.). Vitamins, minerals, spices, and botanical extracts may use dosage type instructions to remind someone they are taking a smaller serving size.

    For example: if the serving size of a tincture is a 1 ml dropper, this may be considered a dosage due to the small serving size; a dose would be 1/2ml which is half a serving size.

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    Best Time to Take Supplements

    Mealtime Makes Most Supplements Work Best 

    The best time to take dietary supplements is right after eating a complete balanced meal to increase the overall density of nutrients and constituents within the diet.

    Energy supplements are best taken with breakfast or the first meal of the day.

    Rest supplements are best taken with dinner or the last meal of the day.

    Can Someone Take Supplements on an Empty Stomach?

    If necessary, supplements may be taken on an empty stomach or when someone uses medicinal herbs for specific purposes or for specific timing, such as before bed.

    Q: What happens if someone gets an upset stomach or headache while taking supplements?

    A: If someone experiences upset stomach or headache while taking any supplement they should try again with food, such as a healthy snack or cooking up some eggs. Someone may achieve better efficacy with supplementation when taken with complete meals.

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    Scientific Functions for Benefits

    Scientist's Study How Supplements Work 

    The nutrients and unique constituents composition of dietary supplements work with the structural and/or biochemical functions of systems, organs, glands and tissues in the body.

    How Dietary Supplements Benefit Health

    Dietary supplements work by benefits of nutrients and constituents

    Health benefits:

    • Build-up
    • Maintenance
    • Support
    • Promote 
    • Repair
    • Minor relief of discomfort

    Nutrients and Constituents Examples:

    • Vitamins and minerals are essential to supporting and maintaining different organs, glands and tissues in the body.
    • Antioxidants from vegetables, fruits and superfoods maintain healthy levels of oxidation for energy.
    • Polysaccharides in mushrooms and tonics like astragalus build-up immunity.
    • Triterpenes in medicinal mushrooms promote vascular circulation and oxygenation throughout the body.
    • Ginsenosides in Asian and American ginseng promote adrenal and sex hormones production.
    • Glucosamine and chondroitin in edible pearls and deer antler velvet repair joint tissues and offer relief of minor joint discomfort.

    Supplement Science

    Supplements Work By Adding Nutrient Density 

    Benefits of dietary supplements are studied and researched through biochemistry, observational supplementation, and traditional empirical uses. They work by nutrient science to increase the density of nutrients in the diet.

    Spices, medicinal herbs, superfoods, botanicals they may be used as medicinal remedies because of their health supporting and promoting unique constituents.

    Examples of supplement science:

    Curcumin polyphenols in turmeric promote circulation into the joints for decreased joint discomfort and increased joint flexibility and regeneration.

    Withanolide glycoside saponins in ashwagandha root promote brain function and improved cognition, memory, and sleep.

    Glycosides in hawthorn berry, leaf and flower maintain blood circulation, promote fat and protein digestion, and support oxygenation and calmness.

    Growth factors in deer antler velvet promote the repair and recovery of joint, muscle, skin and bone tissues.

    Supplements are Not Drugs or Intoxicants

    Supplements Do Not Work Like Drugs or Intoxicants 

    Dietary supplements are not the same as drugs or intoxicants. Dietary supplements are not approved to treat, cure, prevent, or manage the causes of disease that have been diagnosed, but instead they maintain, support, and promote health and wellness. Only drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat, cure, prevent, and manage disease by a certified and licensed medical practitioner.

    Some nutrients that may be taken as supplements have approved FDA 'health claims,' which means 'disease risk reduction.' Two examples:

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    Taking Charge and Personal Responsibility

    Our Health and Fitness is an Important Responsibility 

    Dietary supplements contain nutrition that is vital to health. 

    Supplements are added to the diet to maintain, support, build and promote health and wellness, benefit well-being and enhance performance as a part of a successful lifestyle.

    Supplements add to a healthy state which is optimal well-being, which is related to their overall vitality and ability to perform in many ways.

    Vitality is the capacity for fitness and performance, to grow, live and develop and achieve greater wellness and success.

    A healthy responsible lifestyle includes diet, exercise and customary practices concerning body, mind and spirit, such as work, play, fitness, meditation, and education.

    It is known that modern foods and diets are depleted in nutrients, so a great way to boost nutritive density is by taking supplements with meals as part of a complete diet.

    This is why we take supplements; to acquire higher concentrations of nutrients and to have the vitality to make life better, be more successful and achieve greater fitness!

    Supplements are Easily Accessible Nutrition

    Supplements come in many forms, but the best forms are whole concentrates of foods, superfoods, tonics, herbs, adaptogens and botanicals, because they contain a full-spectrum of nutrients and some contain unique constituents.

    Supplements are usually high in forms of a variety of nutrition, which effects the body, it's tissues, organs and glands in the support of health, wellness, and performance.

    These forms of nutrition include:

    • Peptides, Lipids, Starches
    • Vitamins and Minerals
    • Unique Constituents

    Many of these forms of nutrients are essential, such as vitamins and minerals, to the functioning of the body and are often best consumed daily. Other nutrients such as the peptides, lipids and starches have particular and specific effects on body functioning.

    Unique constituents have special effects on the organs, glands and tissues and are found only in specific medicinal herbs, superfoods, and tonics, such as saponins known as ginsenosides, which are only found in ginseng roots. Another example are unique starches such as polysaccharides found in medicinal mushrooms and astragalus root.

    Superfoods and tonics may be adventurous because we can experience the health building effects of their unique constituents.

    Take Charge in Knowing Supplements

    One’s health, wellness and fitness is very important, so selecting the right supplement is a personal responsibility.

    Not everyone eats the same diet and has the same fitness routine, so everyone doesn't require the same kind of supplements.

    A person is free to choose what supplements support wellness and performance, which is why discernment in is required for developing a healthy lifestyle.

    Ask questions that are insightful; such as:

    "How does this supplement maintain and support health, encourage wellness, promote well-being, and enhance performance?"

    Supplements are Well Researched

    Remember, health and fitness is a personal responsibility; choose what is important based on one's own guidance.

    Supplements work by their structure of nutrition and the function of this nutrition concerning the body. Unique constituents are known to have effects on the various organs, glands, and tissues of the body.

    Seek out trusted information sources of dietary supplements:

    • Books and Magazines
    • Wellness and Fitness Blogs
    • Health and Fitness Websites
    • Universities and Encyclopedias
    • Knowledgeable Friends and Professionals

    However, avoid the pitfalls of research; health is complex and health information shouldn't be taken out of context.

    Nothing is a quick fix.

    A quick answer will come up short on results, so spend the time and effort to develop holistic understanding, that means a comprehensive overview of health and fitness and all its parts as it pertains to wellness and successful living.

    Find out what works best for oneself.

    Just because something doesn't make sense doesn't mean it doesn't work; so dissolving limiting beliefs, conducting more research and having an open-mind may be required for further understanding. The combination of nutrients from various sources may yield better results.

    Apply logic or good judgement to conducting research.

    Avoid attempting to disprove any research; instead one can prove that they may have been unable to get it to work. Work with all the research available and make better informed decisions.

    Explore the various ways to support and maintain a successful and healthful fit life.

    A Note on Professional and Personal Guidance

    Taking charge of your health and fitness while doing it yourself does not mean without professional guidance.

    Because health is vitally important, advise with professionals, family and friends they trust who are able to develop relationships that will develop a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps set a goal of speaking or studying one new professional every three months to broaden the scope of personal knowledge, or when receiving guidance choose 2-3 professional sources with whom to consult.

    Professionals: Select and research the appropriate professional concerning how to support health, benefit wellness and enhance performance with tonics, superfoods and adaptogens. The more professionals one consults, generally the better, so as to acquire a wide and open-minded perspective.

    A Note About Professional Privacy: Some information may only be discussed with a personal healthcare practitioner as their patient and this private information may require consultation about any supplements one wishes to take concerning health conditions.

    Family and Friends: Testimonials about health are best received from people who we know. Most importantly, talking to someone about health, wellness and performance benefits of supplements can open us to new ideas and different perspectives. Develop relationships. Actively approach developing a healthy lifestyle on a monthly or weekly basis with family and friends.

    The daily journey of successful living necessitates learning from professionals about how health and fitness works. Keep in mind that a lack of personal knowledge and individual action may be the biggest contributor to the suffering of progress.

    References for Further Reading

    Self-education is very important to personal health, wellness, and performance.

    Researching supplements includes the following:

    Nutrients: understanding how vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids work for the body in general.

    Benefits: the structure and functions of those nutrients and unique constituents concerning the support and maintenance of health, wellness, and well-being.

    Lifestyles: incorporation of the uses of supplements into daily activities for optimal well-being and fitness.

    Knowing how the human body works is a day-to-day lifelong journey. The more one invests in personal education of health and wellness, the more rewards one may see in their everyday lives.

    Due to the complexity of health and fitness some references may necessitate professional guidance; seek discussion with professionals concerning personal understanding of information.

    All referenced sources are for informational purposes only. The information on this website is not intended as medical advice and does not replace a relationship with a one-on-one healthcare practitioner or qualified professional.

    Resources for supplements:

    2. Informational source for the structure and function of the body, its various organs, glands and tissues, and their health relation to the nutrients found in foods and herbs. This is literally the best go to source, period:

    3.Comprehensive references with understanding of combing food, supplements and herbs, their nutrients, structure and function, dosages and guidance.

    4. Specific references about nutrients found in foods, supplements, herbs, superfoods and tonics, such as the various minerals and vitamins and how a complete diet of all these nutrients combines for optimal health.

    5. Herbalism references that include tonics and superfoods and their suggested dosages and uses. Below sources will include Chinese, Ayurveda, Native American, Russian, Eclectic, Sanskrit and modern adaptogen science.

    6. A classical reference for herbs, superfoods, tonics and their everyday uses.

    7. A specific and highly-technical reference with entries on various herbs, tonics and foods. The cost of this textbook is restrictive in terms of time spent learning how to use the information and the funds required to make its purchase, so one's budget may be better spent seeking a professional versed in the correct use of this resource:

    Supplement Wisdom

    There are many parts to health and fitness.

    We don't live in a bubble so we don't do one thing for our health, wellness and performance. All of this is not singular; in other words, we don't live in an isolated box with only a few variables to study what's going on with these factors.

    Wellness and performance is organically developed holistically as an interplay of various nutrients, each with their own effects on biochemical interactions within the body. Supplements work best taken as a whole together with food and matched to daily activities.

    Concerning supplement wisdom:

    • Everything probably works in someway somehow.
    • A very little bit of something probably does some degree of a little bit.
    • A whole bunch of one thing is just that, you can't force it to work.
    • And nothing does nothing, guaranteed.

    The more one pays close attention to wellness and performance from a holistic perspective, the more one has available for accomplishing something healthy.

    Stay open-minded and feel free to explore new things.

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    Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA)1994

    Dietary Supplement Regulation 

    DSHEA (1994) is important legislation, passed by the US Congress, to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (1938); further defining supplement industry standards, regulation, and safe manufacture. In 2000, further rulings, for supplements by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate them solely as food and not drugs for medical use.

    Dietary Supplements are Food Added to a Complete Diet 

    Supplements are a Type of Food

    DSHEA (1994) creates additional supplement regulation by defining supplements as a type of food that has uses and benefits in supporting, maintaining, and promoting health, wellness, and well-being.

    Types of Supplements

    Dietary supplements are any combination of the following:

    • Vitamins
    • Minerals
    • Herbs
    • Botanicals
    • Amino Acids
    • Concentrates, Metabolites, or Extracts from foods.

    Supplements are Added to the Diet

    The DSHEA (1994) states that supplements are foods added to the diet and taken with meals.

    Supplements exclude intoxicants (e.g. tobacco, hemp flowers and leaves, cannabis), recreational drugs, and medical drugs.

    Supplements are Regulated to Promote Educational Health Claims

    Supplement regulation promotes and sells supplements by educating the buyer in how they support health and well-being in non-medical ways. Currently accepted non-disease and non-health-condition claims for dietary supplements include:

    • General Health and Wellness
    • Nutrient Content
    • Structure/Function
    Research Dietary Supplements with Health Education 

    General health and wellness: A supplement with general health and wellness benefits, shown by historical use (e.g. tradition and herbalism) and/or with reliable scientific evidence (e.g. biochemistry, nutrient science, and herbal medicine). 

    Examples: Ginger concentrate has traditionally been used medicinally for digestion; Skullcap has been used in herbalism as a calming medicinal remedy.

    Nutrient content: Show specific nutrients are present within a supplement (e.g. vitamins, minerals, & amino acids). Books and scientific literature provide reliable and valid evidence for nutrient content claims in supplements. 

    Examples: Goji berry extracts contain beta-carotene which is good for the eyes; Amla berry contains vitamin c which is good for the immune system.

    Structure/Function: Scientific literature shows how any nutrient or constituent of a supplement works within the metabolic processes of a structure and/or function of the body. In other words, a supplement has structure/function benefits when it is concentrated and/or metabolized within a system, organ, gland, fluid, or tissue. 

    Examples: Calcium promotes bone health; Omega-3 fatty acids maintain heart health; Salt supports stomach acid for digestion.

    Importantly, medical studies may be used because they use the scientific method, including animal or human studies, observational studies and/or clinical trials. Find information about the structure/function benefits of supplements when using a medical study, instead of using it to confirm a drug-like mechanism of intervention; thereby excluding the irrelevant disease or unrelated health-condition conclusions.

    Manufactures Use Health Education in Supplement Promotion

    The DSHEA (1994) prevents individual manufactures from making exclusive claims about the effectiveness of their own branded supplements. Instead manufactures make general claims (i.e., traditional uses, health education, & scientific methods) of the health benefits of the types of supplements that they manufacture.

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Regulation Limitations for Disease Related Health Claims

    Note that final rulings in 2000 from the FDA have greatly limited the scope of the US Congress' passage of DSHEA (1994) and vastly reduced the FDA's own ability to approve and promote foods and supplements with intended medical use in the treatment, prevention, and management of diseases and health-conditions; by disallowing all unapproved disease and health-condition claims for foods and supplements. Approved disease and health-condition claims are sometimes confusingly known as health claims within agency documentation.

    Non-Deceptive Supplement Promotion

    The DSHEA (1994) requires any published health supporting claims with dietary supplements be presented as truthful, and not misleading, according to accepted non-medical understanding, including traditional uses, health education, and scientific methods of research.

    Under FDA agency ruling in January (2000), regulation was established that all claims for dietary supplements cannot suggest disease and health-conditions related prevention, treatment, and management effects, unless they are agency approved as a qualified health claim.


    Beware of Dietary Supplement Disinformation 

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works with the FDA to offer guidance in avoidance of deceptive advertising for supplements.

    DSHEA (1994) for Safe Manufacture of Supplements

    The DSHEA (1994) authorizes US government and the FDA agency regulatory oversight to set the requirements for safe supplement manufacture, which is known as Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP); based on food processing and procedures, including sanitation, packaging, and labeling.

    DSHEA (1994) for a Thriving Supplement Industry

    Ultimately, the DSHEA (1994) is regulation passed by the US Congress to encourage the supplement industry to promote health education with the sale of dietary supplements without medical quackery and without interference or corruption from the pharmaceutical industry. 

    Combined, the DSHEA (1994) legislation and FDA rulings regulate the FDA by prohibiting the FDA from approving foods and supplements as drugs, while also prohibiting anyone from promoting, selling, and using foods and supplements wrongly as drugs and medical treatments for the prevention, management, and cure of diseases and health-conditions.