Supplements: Can They Replace Real Food?

As marvellous as they are, our bodies essentially require several vitamins and minerals for proper development and good health. And if you—like the rest of us—live a hectic, jam-packed life with not a lot of time on your hands, you might find it difficult to squeeze in your daily vitamin intake just through nutrition alone.

According to research conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2007 to 2010, there is a significant nutrient gap in the United States population with 61% of Americans not meeting their daily vitamin C intake, 56% for calcium, 48% for magnesium, 57% for vitamin A, 12% for vitamin E, and 6% for vitamin D. In the long run, vitamin deficiencies can culminate into other, more serious issues such as bone disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and skin problems.

One, promptly turns to supplements, but, can you rely on supplements alone as a replacement for food? The answer is in the meaning of the word itself. The word supplement means “something” which is added to “something else” in order to enhance its effects or make it whole. Although you can’t rely on nutritional supplements alone, they can be a great addition to a balanced diet.

The Benefits of Taking Nutritional Supplements

Meeting your basic micronutrient intake can be as easy as taking a multivitamin once a day. They come in the form of chewy vitamins, hard tablets, or liquids. Some multivitamins also claim to offer vitamin combinations especially designed for women, men, children, et cetera. It’s important to consult your physician or a nutritionist to decide which nutrient supplement is best suited for you. Paired with a well-balanced diet, a daily multivitamin supplement can be an excellent source of energy as well.

When you are on a weight loss program which includes 1,500 or fewer calories within your daily dietary allowance, you are probably missing out on some essential nutrients and food groups. This is where taking dietary supplements can fill in the gaps and make sure that your body is not vulnerable to deficiencies.

Supplements with apples on table

Types of Supplements

Nutritional supplements can range from protein shakes to gummy vitamins, and botanical oral drops to snack bars. Knowing about different types of dietary supplements which are out in the market is essential for maximising their nutritional potential.

Vitamins and Minerals

These types of supplements can range from vitamin C powders to daily multivitamin pills and iron tablets. If you feel groggy or know you are not incorporating enough vitamins and minerals in your diet, you might want to consider the benefits of throwing in a daily supplement. For instance, taking a daily iron supplement reduces the risk of developing anemia for people who don’t eat a lot of meat or green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale.

Fatty Acids

Your body needs essential fatty acids to function and perform day-to-day activities. You might be familiar with the importance of consuming omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids if you have ever Googled anything nutrition-related. We usually acquire these fatty acids from foods like fish and nuts but like any other nutrient, we also sometimes fall short. Taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement can lower the risk of heart disease, arthritis, and even depression. Omega-6 fatty acids are in charge of reducing the risk of developing cancer while lowering “bad” cholesterol levels. Meeting your daily intake requirement can be as simple as taking a fish oil supplement.

Herbal Supplements

Herbal supplements, otherwise known as botanicals, have been cultivated for their medicinal benefits for thousands of years. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies most herbal supplements as dietary additives rather than actual drugs. Many botanicals, such as lemon balm, even claim to assist with neurological conditions such as depression and anxiety. Be wary of any non-approved supplements, and make sure to consult a doctor before adding herbal supplements to your diet. They can have adverse effects when taken with prescription or over-the-counter medications.

Protein Supplements

If you have ever had a gym membership, then you are probably all too familiar with the whey vs plant protein discussion. Protein powders—such as whey, soy, and casein—are commonly used for muscle building and recovery, before and after workouts. Most protein powders or shakes are complete, which means that they contain all nine amino acid groups. This means that you don’t have to be a professional bodybuilder to reap the benefits of this macronutrient group. Whether it’s vegan or comes from an animal source, protein supplements together with high-protein foods can be great additions to an active lifestyle.

Supplements I love vitamins

A Match Made in Heaven: Healthy Diet and Nutritional Supplements

A wholesome diet incorporating nutritional supplements and exercise can reduce the risk of disease, keep your energy levels high, and have you feeling amazing. Most of us do not get the right nutritional support we need, which is why taking daily supplements can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing. The key is to choose supplements under professional supervision, and keep up a high nutritional standard within whatever you eat.

Using Supplements to Help Reach Your Fitness Goals

For anyone getting into fitness in a big way, it will come as no surprise, if the realization hasn’t hit already, that the human body can only do so much on its own. Whether it’s then spurred on further by the use of weights, belts, and other assorted accessories, the body occasionally can benefit from just a little more inspiration. This often comes in the form of supplements.

Many people will reel at the thought of putting pills or powder in their body. However, this is not the same as someone using anabolic steroids. Supplements are a proven way to help with goals such as muscle gain, weight loss and even an improved immune system or sex life. They’re not drugs, but a sometimes natural, but often simulated, product, or a compound of several ingredients, designed to directly work with the body’s makeup to produce the desired results.

With regards to fitness, there is a range of ways that supplements can help. Firstly, the key to attaining good fitness, first and foremost, is weight control. If slightly overweight, then weight loss is the initial goal. To this effect, supplements can be taken for a variety of reasons, but the most popular types are those that suppress appetite (meaning that the user of the supplement feels less hungry) or metabolism supplements (so the user burns off fat quicker.) These are not a ‘cure-all,’ however, and, as any supplement will no doubt say on the side of the bottle, they are to be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and some proactive body management.

Beyond weight loss, there are also supplements to help during proactive fitness. Anyone will have seen the plethora of shops which claim to sell the biggest range of health supplements, but the fact is that there are only a few different ones that are of consequence. Before hitting the gym and planning to neck a dozen different types of protein, however, it’s worth speaking to a dietitian to see which supplements are the best choice for the user’s type of fitness program and ultimate goals. Some will increase muscle mass in a general sense, while others will be intended to develop and build lean muscle mass, for instance. Others will be designed as a fat burner to be taken in conjunction with a fitness and gym orientated diet.

It’s not all about building muscle, however. Many supplements are favored by other fitness enthusiasts; runners and athletes favor supplements that help aid rehydration and quench thirst, and others help ease the pain of lactic acid build up, or mitigate it altogether.

Whatever the end game, it’s important to remember that supplements are intended, as their name suggests, to supplement something that is already in place, such as a healthy diet, or a strict and well thought out fitness program. A dietitian, for instance, may suggest a different set of supplements to what the internet advises, or may recommend leaving them alone altogether. In any case, when used correctly, there is little that can go wrong as they are the result of years of research into biology and dietary and fitness habits. Embracing supplements as the helping hand that they are will see improved results with less effort in the long run.