Food supplements are foods that serve to supplement the general diet with vitamins, minerals and other substances, such as amino acids, dietary fibres or secondary plant substances. They contain nutritionally effective nutrients in concentrated and dosed form. This explains why they are offered in a rather non-food form such as tablets, drinking ampoules or capsules.
It is true that a balanced and varied diet according to the recommendations of the professional societies is usually sufficient for healthy people to cover their normal nutrient requirements. However, certain life circumstances can lead to a situation where these recommendations cannot be implemented in everyday life over a longer period of time. In such cases, food supplements can make an important contribution to supplementing the individual's diet and thus to maintaining health, thanks to their nutrition-specific and physiological properties. Which products can be of benefit to the individual depends on a variety of factors, in particular the individual diet, the personal lifestyle, the current phase of life as well as genetic factors.
Food supplements can help all those for whom - for whatever reason - it is difficult to comply with the dietary recommendations in everyday life or who have an increased need. The latter is especially true for pregnant and breastfeeding women, for whom folic acid supplementation is generally recommended, for example. Another example is vitamin D, for which deficiencies are found in all age and population groups, especially in winter due to a lack of UV light and correspondingly low vitamin D synthesis via the skin, but particularly in seniors. However, food supplements can also be useful for people who eat an unbalanced diet or who cannot tolerate one or more important food groups such as fish, fruit and vegetables or dairy products due to a food intolerance or allergy, or who do not like the taste of these foods.
The 'healthy' amount varies for each vitamin and mineral. The 'Reference Values for Nutrient Intake' of the German Nutrition Society (DGE) provide a good orientation for the amounts with which the body is sufficiently supplied. They are to be understood as target values, i.e. the requirements of an individual person may deviate from them. The DGE rightly points out that a nutrient intake below the reference value does not always have to be compensated by supplements. However, in certain situations the targeted use of supplements can be useful.
Anyone who eats a balanced and varied diet according to the recommendations of the professional society is usually sufficiently supplied with nutrients. However, in certain situations, the targeted use of supplements can make sense if certain life circumstances cause an increased need or if there are nutritional gaps over a longer period of time. Compared to "non-users", users of food supplements have an adequate supply of folate, calcium or iron through supplement intake, while the general population on average does not reach the reference values for these nutrients.
Food supplements are produced under high hygiene and quality standards and are regularly checked. Products that comply with the legal requirements are safe. Due to the legal framework for food and the additional specific regulations for food supplements, they are subject to a comprehensive set of regulations that ensure a high level of consumer protection. The regulations specific to food supplements include, among other things, special requirements on the composition or labelling.
Healthy consumers can safely use food supplements according to the manufacturer's instructions and recommendations. Through the consumption recommendations and the detailed declarations, the manufacturers enable the consumer to take the products over a longer period of time in a safe dosage as a supplement to the daily diet. If a consumer wants to use several preparations at the same time, it is advisable to compare the ingredients of the individual products. of the individual products. In this way, an unnecessary double intake of a nutrient can be avoided. Persons who suffer from a congenital metabolic disease or regularly take medication should consult the manufacturer, the doctor, a nutritionist or the pharmacist in case of doubt.
The manufacturers of food supplements base their dosage on the reference values for nutrient intake. reference values for nutrient intake. The products therefore contain amounts that are well below the so-called "tolerable upper intake levels (ULs)". The UL is the scientifically recognised upper limit for a safe total intake that can be consumed every day without negative health effects being expected. High-dose products, i.e. products with amounts far above the recommended intake levels or even above the UL, are not legally offered as food supplements in Switzerland.