There are so many supplements out there that it can be hard to know if you should take them and what you should take. If you want to optimize your health, I believe supplementing can be a useful tool. However, there are some concerns with supplements that are worth examining. In this article I will breakdown what supplements can be used for and some potential concerns.
When can supplements be useful?
Supplements can be useful if you are lacking certain nutrients that you cannot already get from food. For example, some people have vitamin deficiencies that need to be supplemented. Also, there may be certain times when supplements can help everyone. For example, when the sun isn’t out during part of the year, you might want to consider supplementing with vitamin D. Supplements can also be used to increase performance. Personally, I use fish oil, vitamin D, whey protein, creatine, and sometimes a pre-workout. These all provide different benefits such as joint health, heart health, micronutrients, increased energy, etc.. Be sure to only purchase supplements from reliable companies to ensure their efficacy.
When can supplements be dangerous?
The problem with the supplement industry is that it is not regulated. The FDA(Food and Drug Administration) is not required to inspect or approve any supplements. This means that the contents/dosages of what is said to be in the bottle is not guaranteed. This has obvious implications as people could be exposed to dangerous ingredients and/or not be receiving enough of what they are looking for.
Another problem with supplements is that people often substitute them in place of a good diet and exercise program. This obviously results in a lack of nutrients and can be counterintuitive to supplementing in the first place. I suggest getting as much of your nutritional needs from whole foods first and then supplementing for areas that you are deficient in. While you cannot guarantee what you will be taking, I suggest investing in companies that are third-party tested. For example, I like Bare Performance Nutrition as they are third-party tested and their CEO, Nick Bare, seems to have integrity!
Supplements can be useful when coming from a reliable source. If your nutrition is already on point and you are using supplements to cover all your bases, I think they can have a decent place in a healthy diet. Be sure to do your research and only use supplements when needed!