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Are food supplements for you?

Formulated to complement the diet and meet nutritional needs, food supplements are present in more than half of Brazilian homes - 10% more since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data from the survey "Habbitos de Consumo de Suplementos Alimentares no Brasil" (Consumption Habits of Food Supplementsin Brazil), promoted by the Brazilian Association of the Food Industry for Special Purposes and Congeners (ABIAD).

The increase is related to the prevention of illness through the care of immunity, in addition to the long list of benefits traditionally related to their consumption: greater disposition, physical performance and longevity. But it's important to know: although they are sold over-the-counter, their use must be indicated and monitored by a nutritionist or doctor, at the risk of them having no effect or even harming the body.

Check out what they are, who they are for and when they should be consumed.

What are food supplements?

Food supplement

Composed of elements such as proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals, dietary supplements can have different objectives, such as weight loss (thermogenic), gaining muscle mass (protein) or weight (hypercaloric).

A single capsule can contain one or a complete and personalized combination of components, which are not a substitute for a balanced diet, but can meet specific nutritional needs or physical conditions.

Who is food supplementation suitable for?

Those who keep up a fast pace of life are often unable to consume the quantity or quality of the nutritional recommendation indicated for their goal. In this case, food supplements can contribute to practicality: they usually come in formats that are easy to carry in your bag, such as capsules, sachets, tablets, liquids or granules.

In addition, each stage of life has specific nutritional needs, which must be closely monitored. In childhood, for example, nutrients such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron, B vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins are essential for healthy growth and physical development.

In adolescence, adequate energy intake, as well as proteins, vitamins, especially A, C and D, and minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc are the key factors. In adulthood, the most important nutrients are vitamin D, selenium, zinc and carbohydrates.


In the case of the elderly, dietary supplementation is even more important because of the physiological changes that increase mass loss, reduce the ability to metabolize proteins and lead to sarcopenia. Vitamin D, calcium, iron and proteins are therefore essential to prevent illness and injury and to guarantee quality of life and independence for the elderly.

Anemic people and pregnant women, for example, are among the groups medically recommended to use supplements, which guarantee correct nutritional supplementation.

Take care when using food supplements

To reap the long list of benefits promised by dietary supplements and avoid any complications, it's important to follow professional guidelines, avoiding an excess of vitamins and other substances as well as a lack of them, as they can damage the liver and kidneys, causing intoxication.

Medical indications are also valuable when it comes to consuming supplements because of their bioavailability, which is the proportion of the nutrient that will actually be absorbed and used by the body. Iron and calcium, for example, are considered to be anti-nutrients, i.e. they will compete for the same absorption site, and it is not recommended that they be ingested at the same meal. Unlike the combination of iron and vitamin C, which, when consumed together, enhance the absorption of iron in the body.

Do you already use supplements? What do you think?

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E-BOOK: download the booklet Rehabilitation in Post-Covid-19 Sequelae here.

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