What are nutritional health supplements?

Trifocus fitness academy - Nutritional health supplements
Nutrition Blog

The majority of adults in the South Africa take one or more nutritional health supplements either daily or occasionally. Nutritional health supplements today include supplements such as the following:

  • Vitamins,
  • Minerals,
  • Herbal supplements,
  • Amino acids, and
  • Enzymes.

Nutritional health supplements come in a number of forms, such as:

  • Traditional tablets,
  • Capsules,
  • Powders,
  • Drinks, and
  • Energy bars.

Popular nutritional health supplements incorporate items such as vitamins D and E; minerals such as calcium and iron; herbs like as echinacea and garlic; and, for example, specialty products like glucosamine, probiotics, and fish oils.

What do some of these nutritional health supplements do?

Vitamin E

  • Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is found in many foods such as:
  • Vegetable oils (such as wheat germ, sunflower, corn, and soybean oils)
  • Nuts (such as almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts)
  • Seeds (for example, sunflower seeds)
  • Green leafy vegetables (for example, spinach and broccoli)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals, fruit juices, margarine and spreads.

In the body, Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant. This means that this vitamin helps to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals, which are compounds that are formed when our bodies turn the food eaten into energy.

People are also exposed to free radicals that are present in the environment that come from cigarette smoke, pollution in the air and ultraviolet light from sunlight.

The body also requires vitamin E for its immune system to be boosted so that it can fight off invading bacteria as well as viruses. Vitamin E helps to widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting within them. In addition, cells make use of vitamin E to interact with each other and to carry out many important functions.

Trifocus fitness academy - Nutritional health supplements


Probiotics defined as live bacteria as well as yeasts that are good for you. They are especially good for your digestive system. We usually think of probiotics as germs that cause diseases. However, your body is full of bacteria which is both good as well as bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria as they help keep your gut healthy.

It is possible to find probiotics in supplements and some foods, like yogurt. Doctors often suggest that a person takes probiotics to help with digestive problems.


Echinacea is used widely to fight infections, in particular the common cold as well as the flu. Some people take echinacea when they first see a cold developing. This is in the hopes that they will be able to prevent the cold from developing. Other people use echinacea after cold or flu-like symptoms have started as they hope that they can make symptoms less severe or be resolved in a quicker fashion.

Echinacea is also to fight other types of infections. These include urinary tract, ear and throat infections. Unfortunately, there is no data to back these claims up.

Sometimes people apply echinacea to their skin to treat boils, skin wounds, or burns.

Should I Take a Nutritional Supplement?

Eating a variety of foods which are healthy is the best way to get the nutrients you require. However, some people don’t eat enough vitamins and minerals in their daily diet. Because of this, their doctors may recommend a nutritional supplement. Nutritional health supplements may contribute nutrients, to a person’s daily diet, that might be missing.

Ask yourself why you feel that you may want to take a nutritional supplement. Are you worried that you’re not getting enough nutrients? Is a friend, a neighbour, or someone on a TV or radio advertisement suggesting that you take one?  Supplements may cost a lot of money – and even may be harmful to you, depending on any medical conditions that you may have. They simply might not be helpful to you. Speak with your medical practitioner or a registered dietitian for advice on what supplements you should take.

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