I get asked about supplements a lot. This is one of those topics where you can search and find basically every kind of answer you want. There are medical professionals in peer-reviewed journals making completely opposite claims. And since that’s the case I decided to give you the most well-rounded common sense answers I can about this topic.
Good or Bad?
You’re not going to like what I have to say here, but they are neither and they can be both. I know that’s a cop out, but it’s also the truth. There are so many factors that go into supplementation and a lot of them have so little to do with the supplements themselves. So let’s reduce it to just the actual physical supplements.
You really need to look into any supplement you buy. Make sure it’s made a company that puts in the time to make sure it is what it says it is. It should include minimal extra ingredients and look out for things like gluten or animal products that might be lurking. These guys don’t have to go through the same testing as other products you use so make sure to do your homework. You want to make sure you’re getting what you paid for and also that you aren’t getting (possibly unwanted) extras that you didn’t.
Do They Work?
Yes and no. So let’s say you’ve gotten some really “clean” supplements and you are ready to solve that health issue that’s been bugging you. Well here’s a few issues:
- Have you checked in with your body? Have you spoken to a doctor a dietician? Have you had blood work done more than once? Basically, have you evaluated whether or not these are the specific vitamins and minerals your body needs? Multivitamins are almost never necessary and you may be sensitive to overdoses of certain vitamins and minerals. Looking for specific things you are low in works best. However, if you aren’t bothered by extra stuff sometimes their doses of the stuff you need are more in regulation.
- Do you know how much you need? You can’t control the dosage of these the way we can with prescriptions. They don’t account for what you’re eating that day either. You may end up taking too little or too much.
- Are you consuming these in the right combinations to make sure your body actually absorbs them? You need vitamin C to use iron and you need fat for vitamin D. There are very few things our body can just use readily (check out my post on collagen for a better explanation)
- Are you using these instead of eating whole foods? Do you find it hard to eat certain foods so you are using supplements to fill in the gaps? This is like putting a bandaid on a bullet hole. I would suggest finding out what foods have what you need and then finding some recipes that look good. They are also so many meal delivery services that might be able to help you branch out to get more of what you need in food form.
- Are you looking for a long-term result? Supplements are great in the here and now. They can help improve performance and even out imbalances, but if you don’t address the underlying problem they can’t do much else. It’s also been shown that their effect doesn’t last and don’t have an overarching effect. Meaning, you return to normal and don’t actually gain anything new from taking them. It’s like restarting the episode every time you back to watch the show.
Yes! Take them! I know there was a lot of negative before this, but I think it’s so important to be careful a diligent when we’re putting manmade substances into our bodies. They are not a quick fix and they won’t solve any big issues. They can have wonderful benefits if used correctly though! Check out my post about electrolytes for how I used supplements to get over some symptoms I was experiencing. I didn’t start using anything right away and I spent a while observing how my body felt.
Moral of the story being that if you invest some time into narrowing down what you need and ask a few questions I think supplements can definitely be beneficial!
P.S. I am not a doctor or a dietician. I'm a woman who loves statistics and science and reading research articles. So I hope you enjoy and chew on it a bit yourself.