There seems to be a lot of confusion. Many people wonder: what supplements should I take?
With so much information readily available nowadays it can be confusing to really know. It can be overwhelming, but I want to simplify things for you in this article.
After reading this, when someone asks you: what supplements should I take? You will know. It is so simple.
But first, let’s cover a few important points regarding supplements.
Should I Add Supplements to My Diet?
Dietary supplements are now more readily available than ever before, and a huge variety of different supplements are on offer from different manufacturers.
In 2015, consumers in the US spent a massive $21 billion on supplements.
That’s a lot of money!
What Are Supplements?
As defined by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), dietary supplements are products which add nutritional value to our diet and help reduce the risk of sickness or disease.
Supplements can be vitamins, minerals, herbs and other plant extracts, amino acids, metabolites and other extracts. They usually come in tablet, capsule, liquid or powder form (source).
Who Needs Supplements?
The 2015 -2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that in general our nutritional needs should be fulfilled by regular food, and the main focus on our eating habits should be to maintain a well-balanced diet consisting of nutrient-rich foods.
Some people need to take dietary supplements for a number of reasons – for example, an elderly person with reduced appetite taking a multivitamin supplement, taking folic acid during pregnancy to decrease the likelihood of birth defects, or a vitamin C supplement for someone on a pureed diet, or calcium for optimal bone health.
People following a daily eating program with a very low-calorie intake may need dietary supplements, as might people with specific medical conditions, including food allergies. For vegans, some food groups are not accessible, and they may take supplements to compensate.
Other people choose supplements for different reasons – for example, people trying to build muscle mass and maximize the effects of a physical training program, or as an alternative to conventional medicine.
Pros and Cons of Supplements
Dietary supplements can help to complete your intake of daily nutrients by filling in the gaps which your normal diet leaves. They are convenient to take for people on the go and can help you to maintain good health when following a specific eating program, such as veganism.
Dietary supplements can have a wide range of positive effects on the body, from improving general health and boosting the immune system to targeting a wide variety of specific medical conditions.
On the other hand, dietary supplements are usually isolated extract of a specific substance.
Compared to natural sources of the same substance, they provide a very narrow spectrum of nutrients that contribute to good health, whereas natural food source is likely to contain a whole range of health promoting nutrients.
In some instances, we cannot rely on supplements to supply the nutrients we need. For example, there are more than 4000 phytochemicals, which have a huge range of various health benefit. These are found in foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods.
Many phytochemical are destroyed by the manufacturing process, which supplements are automatically subject to, and by far the best source is from whole natural food.
In addition, supplements usually contain highly concentrated forms of nutrients, making it easy to overdo it, and this can be bad for your health.
A further downside to supplements is that they are not necessarily closely regulated. In the US, dietary supplements are not required to be registered with or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and there is, therefore, no guarantee regarding safety, purity or effectiveness.
When Can Supplements Replace Real Food?
The truth is that supplements can’t replace real food. They are designed to do exactly what they say – supplement our daily nutritional intake in addition to a regular well-balanced diet. The most important source of all nutrients is real food.
If we identify that our diet is lacking in one or more nutrients, we should first look to real food sources to complete our nutritional profile. If that is not possible due to a food allergy or lack of availability of the food we need, we should look to supplements as an alternative source.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to supplements is to do your own research into any supplement you are considering adding to your diet. It is always a good idea before taking any supplement to first consider your diet and see if you can make any changes to include foods which provide the natural sources of the supplement you are considering.
The best advice is to seek medical advice before taking any supplement and make a well-informed decision about whether or not any particular supplement is necessary, and the reason why it is right for you. Still not sure what supplements should I take?
What Supplements Should I Take?
If you are still wondering “what supplements should I take?”, a healthy balanced diet with regular exercise should be the first thing to look at. Once that is sorted, my list of supplement superstars that just about everyone can benefit from are as follows:
- Vitamin D3
- Fish Oils
I won’t go into detail about the benefits of each of these supplements, perhaps in a future post. But these are my list of supplements I recommend you should take for everyday health and wellness.
This is a guest post by Helen Sanders from HealthAmbition.com. Helen is on a mission to simplify the world of health and fitness and provide actionable information for everyday people living everyday lives.