Food supplements are intended as additions to the diet. They are products that contain vitamins, minerals, amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), enzymes (complex proteins that speed up biochemical reactions) or other ingredients with a nutritional or physiological effect. Medicines, on the other hand, are drugs or other preparations that target a particular body part that is in pain or a particular illness. They aim to provide a cure or maintain and improve the current condition of the body or prevent disease.
Supplements can provide you with extra nutrients when your diet is lacking or certain health conditions (such as cancer, diabetes or chronic diarrhoea) create a deficiency. People also take dietary supplements to maintain their general health, support mental and sports-related performance and provide immune system support. In contrast to most medicines, supplements are readily available on the market and can be purchased without a prescription.
We can obtain all the vitamins, minerals and other substances we need through a healthy diet. However, research has shown that this is rarely the case. Essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C and D, have all been found to be lacking in the diets of economically developed countries [Spirichev 2010]. Nutrients in supplements have also been found to play an important role in maintaining the normal physiology and healthiness for humans. They are also required for enhancing the immunity of the body and may be effective against viral infections, including COVID-19 [Thirumdas 2021].