What are Supplement Pills?

Sheri Cyprus

Supplement pills are also called diet or food supplements. These pills, made to swallow or chew, are designed to supplement, or add to, the foods consumed in one’s daily diet. Some of the many different supplement pills available today include herbal, mineral, vitamin and calcium.

Supplement pills are designed to add to the food consumed in a person's daily diet.
Supplement pills are designed to add to the food consumed in a person's daily diet.

Calcium supplement pills are commonly prescribed by doctors to people who don’t consume enough dairy products and other natural sources of the nutrient. Calcium is crucial in helping the body maintain strong bones and teeth. Calcium is added to some commercial food products such as fortified orange juice.

Supplement pills make up for the vitamins and minerals lacking from a person's normal diet.
Supplement pills make up for the vitamins and minerals lacking from a person's normal diet.

There are supplement pills available for almost all vitamins. Vitamin C supplements are taken by people who don’t get enough of it naturally in citrus foods such as oranges and grapefruits. Iron is one of the most commonly prescribed mineral supplement pills. Getting enough iron naturally in foods can be especially difficult for vegetarians. The iron in non-animal sources is more difficult for the body to process effectively.

Daily vitamin and mineral supplement pills are made by many different pharmaceutical companies. These are available in adult and child formulations and are usually designed to provide the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals. Most doctors agree that taking a daily type of vitamin supplement pill isn’t harmful, although people should check with their doctor before starting a supplement pill for children or adults. During pregnancy, getting the proper dietary nutrition is especially important; doctors often prescribe prenatal vitamins containing folic acid to expecting women to help prevent birth defects.

Problems can arise when the RDA is exceeded or when herbal supplement pills are used. Mega dosing occurs when large amounts of vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements are consumed that far exceed the RDA. Mega dosing can cause damage to the body and some herbs may create allergic reactions in some individuals. Some people tend to get carried away with taking supplements; just because they are naturally found on the planet doesn’t mean that large, or any, quantities of them are healthy.

Doctors can order lab tests to determine which vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, if any, an individual is lacking. Both food sources and supplement pills containing the needed nutrition may be prescribed by a doctor although many supplements are available over the counter. It’s important to get good medical advice from physicians before taking any type of supplement pill whether or not it’s sold without a prescription.

Most people get enough Vitamin C from food, but those who don't should take supplements.
Most people get enough Vitamin C from food, but those who don't should take supplements.

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