Supplements and How They Work: Basics That Everyone Should Know

 by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

Supplements can never be a substitute for proper nutrition, but they can absolutely help you to hit your health, fitness, and physique goals quicker! Supplements complement your diet and help you prevent nutrient gaps. Supplements are an essential part of a healthful diet. They can help you get the nutrients you need in order to feel great, perform at your optimum level, and live a long, healthy life.

No matter what your training goals are, the correct supplements can help enhance your health, physique, and performance. It is important to know which supplements you should put in your system, though, as not all of them may align with your specific wants and needs.

In this article, we will discuss the basic things that everyone should know and understand about supplements.

What Are Supplements?

Supplements are substances you take in addition to your diet to make up for any missing nutrients or to boost your health and performance. They can be found in the form of pills and powders but also as liquids, gels, and even gum and candy. Supplements can be found in a variety of forms and types, but they all serve the same purpose — to improve your health by providing extra nutrients that you may not get enough of from food alone.

Why Do People Take Supplements?

According to a U.S. survey conducted in 2017–2018, 57.6% of adults who were asked, consumed dietary supplements in the last 30 days prior to the survey. Surprisingly the percentage of adults consuming dietary supplements increased with age.

There are many reasons why people take supplements, but there are three main reasons that they’re generally taken and used.

1.      To correct a nutritional deficiency

This is the most common reason why people take supplements. A deficiency can occur due to poor eating habits or if you have a medical condition that negatively affects your ability to absorb nutrients from food.

For example, if you have celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, which both affect your ability to digest gluten and other proteins found in foods such as dairy products and wheat, respectively, you may need to supplement with nutrients that are difficult to get from food alone.

2.      To increase energy levels

You may be surprised to learn that most Americans don’t get enough vitamins and minerals in their daily diets. This is especially true of people who eat a lot of processed food or fast food. Even if you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, it’s still possible that you’re not getting enough vitamin B12 or vitamin D. These two vitamins have been linked to boosting energy levels in many ways.

3.      To improve your overall health

Many people try to improve their health with diet and exercise alone, but this doesn’t always work for everyone. If you’re one of those people who has tried everything but still feels tired or like your energy levels aren’t where they should be, then it’s time to consider taking a supplement.

4 Things You Should Know About Supplements

Supplements are a hot topic in the fitness industry. With so many options, it can be hard to know what’s right for you. Here are four basic things you should know about supplements.

1.      It is vital to have a nutritious diet

A healthy diet is the best way to get all the nutrients you need. Supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet. They’re intended as an addition to the foods you eat. They can’t make up for poor nutrition. It’s best if you get all your vitamins from food — it’s easy, inexpensive, and natural. If you’re not getting enough of certain vitamins or minerals in your diet, talk with your doctor about making changes so that you can meet your needs through food alone.

2.      There are different types of supplements

Supplements can be divided into three categories — food-based, synthetic, and naturally derived. Food-based supplements are made from plants or animals and contain natural ingredients like vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids. Synthetic supplements are man-made versions of nutrients that occur naturally in foods. Nutritional yeast is an example of a naturally derived supplement because it contains many B vitamins as well as other nutrients.

3.      Not all supplements are safe

Some contain ingredients that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For example, there have been cases where supplements contained steroids, heavy metals, and other harmful ingredients. In addition, some supplements may be contaminated with bacteria or mold. You should always check with your doctor before taking any new supplement so that they can help you determine if it is right for you.

4.      Speak with your doctor/nutritionist first before taking a supplement

It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement. Some supplements have potential side effects, and others don’t work for everyone. Your doctor can help you determine what is best for your physical health.

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