If you’re considering adding supplements to your health routine, then you’re far from alone. In fact, roughly half of the American adult population uses some kind of supplementation. However, knowing how to choose the right supplements for better health and fitness is a bit more complicated than the initial decision to use them in the first place. Consulting your doctor or a dietitian is a good step, but there are things you can learn just by reading the following paragraphs.
Why Is Supplementation Necessary?
Lots of healthy people might not need supplements, but many others might need extra help in order to attain optimal health and fitness. Aging, using certain medications, or lacking access to particular healthy foods can all result in the need for supplementation just to hedge your bets. Pregnant or potentially pregnant women can often use a safety cushion. Supplementation can also help with specific nutritional deficiencies resulting from limited or restricted diets that are often used for health reasons.
Nutrient absorption is another consideration. You might have specific targets you want to hit each day, such as protein levels, but your body might not be able to get enough through food alone. Certain nutrient requirements might be higher if you exercise a lot, but you might face absorption issues if you’ve had gastric bypass surgery or are just getting older. A blood test through your doctor can confirm deficiencies in minerals or vitamins. Vitamins D and B12 are harder to process as you age, and you might be lacking in them if you follow a vegan diet.
Identify Your Supplement Goals
Before you turn to a supplement retailer, you should know what kind of supplement you are looking for. This is usually based on your specific goals. For instance, if you’re looking to maximize muscle gain, then a whey powder might help you get the proteins your body needs to build lean tissue mass.
If you’re struggling with energy before your workouts, then a pre-workout drink can help you train longer, harder, and better. Recovery after exercise is also crucial to maintaining training levels and building up muscle. Other supplements help you sleep better and get more rest.
Know Your Supplement
When considering any supplement, remember what it’s intended to be. Most of your nutritional needs should be met through your diet, but supplements can help with nutritional deficiencies, special needs, and certain life stages. Always verify the safety and effectiveness of supplements and opt for trusted providers like Outwork Nutrition for your supplement needs. Look for third-party testing and safe levels of the nutrients you are seeking. Also, consult your physician about possible interactions with medications or other elements of your health routine.
Balancing Safety With Needs
Supplements exist to help you meet specific nutrient goals, but going over the tolerable upper level of certain nutrients can risk side effects. These can range from mild inconveniences, such as nausea, to more serious conditions, such as bleeding. Dietary supplements can have health benefits like many medicines do, but they’re not regulated the same way.
Consuming too much can make them act more like drugs. The research behind many supplements is inconsistent. Vitamin D, calcium, and protein are known to have health benefits, but herbs such as ginkgo biloba might be more anecdotal in their evidence. Omega-3 fatty acids are touted as a great way to improve cardiovascular health and fight inflammation, but the research has primarily been done on animals instead of humans. The trick here is to do your research into every specific supplement you are considering.
Look for Third-Party Testing
The FDA regulates many medicines and food products, but this part of the government doesn’t manage supplements. However, that’s not to say there are no safety mechanisms in the industry. Check products for a seal of approval from NSF, USP, ConsumerLab, or BSCG. These independent companies can provide a certificate of analysis indicating product quality or manufacturing in facilities that voluntarily comply with FDA standards.
Who You Can Consult
Always mention potential supplements to your doctor before starting them so you can find out about potential side effects or interactions with medicines you’re already taking. However, keep in mind that not all physicians are well-informed about supplements. You might also need to consult a nutritionist or dietitian to find out more information, but your doctor can usually refer you to these specialists.