Supplements are nutrients that are taken with the intent of adding them to a diet to aid in some way. Popular supplements include protein powder, fish oil, vitamin C, and creatine.
What Are Supplements Used For?
There are all sorts of supplements. In general, they can be broken down into two categories:
- health and wellness supplements
- performance-enhancing supplements
Health and Wellness Supplements
These include things like fish oil, vitamin C, whey protein, etc., which people take because studies have shown a correlation between supplementing with them and improved health or longevity. Additionally, many of these have been linked to positive effects on the brain, most notably being omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil. Of course, there has been no way to prove cause and effect just yet, but all signs point towards “yes” for now. In this arena, more isn’t better. You should only be taking the recommended dose.
Performance Enhancing Supplements
These supplements are taken to aid in performance and usually include things like creatine, caffeine, nitric oxide boosters, etc. These tend to be more on the “grey” side of supplementation because there isn’t much research into what actually works and what doesn’t (like with health and wellness supplements). However, anecdotally we can say that most people who take these notice some sort of effect. To give you an idea of why they work: Creatine – helps with energy production for those who lift weights (because it’s stored as phosphocreatine in your muscles) Caffeine – boosts focus and alertness; also used a diuretic which increases water loss (helpful for cutting) Nitric Oxide boosters – helps muscles get more nutrients, gets rid of lactic acid which causes fatigue.
The first supplements that anyone should take are probiotics. These can come in the form of a pill or food, such as yogurt. In terms of health and wellness supplements, this is by far the most important one to add to your diet because it aids your digestive system in breaking down food and absorbing nutrients from the foods you eat.
Most people who work out or need to maintain muscle mass (such as those on a weight loss diet) use protein powder because it’s an easy way to get some extra protein without eating more food. Typically you can mix it up with water or milk, but it acts as a meal replacement for between meals if you are in a pinch.
The third health and wellness supplement that can be an excellent addition to a diet is vitamin C. Vitamin C has been linked to heart disease risk reductions, speeding up wound healing, protecting against cancer, etc. Note: it’s not recommended you take this with iron because they have an antagonistic relationship where the two of them cancel each other out – so if you’re going to take one or both, make sure you space them out sufficiently for optimal absorption of both kinds of supplements.
Vitamin D3 is another health and wellness supplement that people often don’t get in their diet. Again this is because people don’t eat healthy enough, and they’re not getting the proper balance of nutrients. Vitamin D3 has been linked time and time again to better moods, weight loss, improved brain function, etc. It’s also a very safe supplement with no significant side effects, so there isn’t any reason NOT to take it if you aren’t already.
Another good performance-enhancing supplement to add to your regimen is creatine which can help with energy production when lifting weights (due to its ability to increase phosphocreatine levels in muscles). It’s crucial that you don’t go overboard with it and just follow the directions – that goes for any supplement. Creatine is commonly used in high school and college athletes to improve performance. Still, despite all of the positive effects reported by users and measurably increased lean mass and power output so far, there still isn’t much research because long-term studies haven’t been done yet.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids can be helpful supplements to take because there’s such a wide range of benefits such as brain enhancements, increased mood, and happiness, improved visual acuity, etc. What’s important is to make sure you’re getting them from fish oil because plant-based omega 3s only have the DHA component, which isn’t as effective (or as readily used by your body). Plus, the other components in the fish oil that research shows lead to all those positive effects like EPA and DPA aren’t present in any significant amount.
Are you a resident of the Birmingham area and looking for ways to supplement your diet with useful and quality supplements? If yes, then visit us at Hoover, AL, or call us at 205-352-9141.