Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Supplements
In theory, you can get all the nutrition your body and mind need from the food and beverages you consume. But in practice, most people don’t have enough time, energy, or knowledge to put together perfect nutrition in their diet, and their bodies tend to suffer for it.
Supplements can help fill the nutritional gaps in your diet and provide other notable beneficial effects to the body and mind. If you are curious about what count as supplements and what you might gain by taking supplements, read on.
What Are Supplements?
Any product that contains an ingredient intended to fill in dietary gaps can be considered a supplement. The most popular supplements are vitamins and minerals, which give the body access to micronutrients that are more difficult to obtain through diet alone. You might very well already take vitamins like ascorbic acid, thiamin, biotin, and calciferol or minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. Supplements also include amino acids, like tryptophan or leucine, as well as enzymes, like lipase or pepsin. Finally, you can find supplements of herbs, like turmeric, garlic, St. John’s wort, and echinacea, which many believe offer valuable properties for the proper functioning of the body and mind.
What Forms Do Supplements Take?
The definition of supplements is strict in that supplements include products that are taken by mouth. That means you will not find a topical supplement, an inhaled supplement, or an injected supplement; supplements are only consumed orally.
That said, it is important to recognize that supplements can still take many forms. Tablets and capsules are perhaps the most common and most recognizable supplements, but you can also find supplement powders, supplement gummies, supplement liquids, and more.
How Are Supplements Regulated?
Though supplements often look like drugs, they are actually regulated by the FDA like food. As a result, the FDA does not review supplement products before they are placed on the market. Though supplement manufacturers are not allowed to claim that their products treat, diagnose, prevent or cure diseases, the fact remains that the FDA isn’t verifying the safety or effectiveness of any supplement unless there are adverse events associated with a certain product.
As a result, you need to be careful when choosing which supplements to buy and take. You should only invest in supplements that have been third-party tested, which helps ensure that the supplements contain what they claim on their packaging. You should also talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you want to take because they can interfere with medications and health conditions in negative ways.
Does Science Back up Supplements?
Research on supplements is varied, with the effect that some supplements are well established as beneficial to a wide variety of users while other supplements have almost no representation in research whatsoever. For example, there is ample evidence demonstrating that taking a vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplement is good for your health; studies suggest that it could reduce your risk for certain cancers and prevent the onset of certain eye diseases, like age-related macular degeneration. In contrast, little is known about the effects of the herbal supplement black cohosh — it might have effects on health, and it might not.
As mentioned above, it is best to consult a healthcare provider before introducing any kind of supplement into your daily regimen. Providers tend to have access to more recent research, and they can guide you toward the best solutions and products for your unique conditions and circumstances.
Which Supplements Should You Take?
There is no list of supplements that is right for absolutely everyone. You need to work with your healthcare provider to determine your health needs and find supplements that fill your dietary gaps. That said, there are a few supplements that most people tend to benefit from, such as:
Protein. Both active and sedentary people need large amounts of protein to keep their muscles healthy and their organs functioning properly. Taking a protein supplement, like a protein shake, can help ensure that the body has enough protein on days when there is less protein in your diet.
CBD. The more research conducted on CBD, the more benefit the compound seems to bring. You can find CBD capsules that provide a good dose of the cannabinoid once per day, which should help keep pain and inflammation at manageable levels without any fear of overdose.
Probiotics. A little known fact is that you don’t digest your food; bacteria in your gut does, and then your body absorbs the stuff processed by that bacteria. However, you need to be sure your gut flora is healthy, which means giving yourself a dose of probiotics every day.
Supplements are an interesting category of product, and knowing more about them can help you make the right purchasing decisions for your diet and your health.