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What are the Different Types of Nutritional Supplements?

By Felicia Dye
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Many people rely on nutritional supplements. Some do so as a preventive measure and others do so as a corrective measure. To make wise decisions about nutritional supplements, it is helpful to understand that there are different types that are designed to serve different purposes.

Antioxidants are nutrients that encourage the production of free radicals. People tend to be motivated to consume antioxidant supplements because free radicals have been linked to the prevention of cell damage. Using antioxidants to protect cells is believed to prevent certain diseases, such as cancer, and to prevent premature aging. Vitamin E and vitamin C are examples of antioxidants that are commonly consumed by way of nutritional supplements.

Amino acids are a group of nutrients that help to build protein. The amino acids that cannot be produced by the body are called essential acids. Non-essential acids are those that can be produced by the body. Together these act to perform duties such as maintaining muscular and mental health.

The body requires all of the amino acids for complete protein. Many of these are most prevalent in meat, which may prompt vegetarians to find these nutritional supplements beneficial. People who suffer from herpes, male infertility, and weak immune systems may also want to consider taking amino acids. Supplements in this category include L-lysine and tryptophan.

Digestive enzymes help to properly break down food during the digestive process. These enzymes fall into categories depending on whether they aid in the digestion of carbohydrates, fat, or protein. Conditions that often prompt people to take these nutritional supplements include malabsorption, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn’s disease. Supplement options in this category include bromelain and trypsin.

The consumption of herbal supplements is often based on traditional and holistic healing. Many types of materials are used to create herbal supplements, including tree bark, roots, and mushrooms. These products are believed to be useful for a range of ailments including skin disease, sexual problems, and mental problems. Examples of these types of supplements include grapefruit extract, Ginkgo biloba, and Reishi.

There are also nutritional supplements that are targeted toward certain lifestyle circumstances. These may be composed of a mixture of items. For example, some weight loss supplements are designed to provide various types of nutrients that may be missed when a person is dieting. A senior citizen who is active may also have special nutritional needs. There are also supplements designed especially for this purpose.

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Discussion Comments
By mandydances — On Apr 18, 2011

@healthnwell I agree that it is necessary to talk to your pharmacist, herbologist, etc prior to taking vitamins if you are on medications. Some interactions between drugs and nutrition supplements can even be deadly.

By meandcoffee — On Apr 15, 2011

I like liquid nutritional supplements because they are easy to take and are absorbed fast. They can be used as a meal add-on or you can use them as a meal replacement. They are fortified with vitamins and minerals.

By healthnwell — On Mar 06, 2011

I love natural nutritional supplements. I am going to school to learn more about them, as there is so much to understand about how they work.

Something that I have discovered is that if you want to take more than just a few basic supplements, or if you are taking prescription drugs, you really need to have the help of a certified nutritionist, herbologist,or naturopath to make sure that what you are taking does not have a negative reaction with each other.

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