To Supplement or Not to Supplement…It’s Always the Question*
As a Health Coach and fitness fanatic, I often get the question, do I use supplements? The short answer to that question is yes. I do use supplements and I do believe they have a place in a healthy diet. The operative word being healthy. I not only use them, but I believe in them, realizing how controversial that can be for many people. Before you read further, you should know this is not an endorsement for supplements, it is just one point of view among many.
The biggest issue is supplements have, often, gotten a bad rap because of some bad products. Like anything else, you can’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch. There are some terrible supplements out there, but there are also some great ones. You simply should know what to look for and be clear on a few facts that help you determine what may or may not be right for you.
Let’s start with a healthy diet. The argument by some is if you have a healthy diet, one rich in vegetables, essential fats, proteins and carbohydrates, you should not have to use supplements. Unfortunately, the number of Americans currently eating the right kinds of food is under 10%, which leaves many people deficient in the right kinds of nutrients. Further testing has also revealed individual biochemical differences in absorption, metabolism and bio-availability of nutrients, which is further supported by analysis of a patient’s genes. Some people will always need a higher dose of specific vitamins and minerals than others due to their unique chemistry. Truth is the right kind of supplements can be beneficial when paired with a person’s unique needs.
So, how do you know what is right for you? Well, first I would recommend consulting your physician, and potentially having some blood work done. For example, some people often find they are low in Vitamin D, B or even magnesium and calcium. From there, you can do some of your own research at www.consumerlabs.com or follow a few of my tips:
- Read the labels – look for a seal from the US Pharmacopeia (USP) or NSF International. This means that the supplement manufacturer should adhere to quality guidelines created by these regulatory organizations.
- Try to avoid supplements with additives like sugars or dyes.
- Avoid trendy new supplements that make false claims and promises.
- Recognize safety concerns – adhere to the right dosage and note that even though something is all natural, it can still result in a negative reaction.
What about fat burners, protein shakes and other performance related supplements? Well, again, without advisement from your physician, you should be very careful what you put into your body. I have tried many pre-workout drinks that left me on edge or sweating for the entire day (and that was on half a dose), which is not good. Through trial and error, I now know that organic and plant based sports drinks and protein shakes like http://www.purelyinspired.com/ and all-natural hunger control supplements like www.lovidia.com, are best for a healthy diet. These types of products usually don’t cause jitters and do what they are supposed to do with no to little side effects. Like many of you, I struggle to curb my appetite so taking a supplement like Lovidia, keeps hunger at bay naturally unlike many things on the market that are overloaded with caffeine.
Supplements are just that, a supplement so try to always get the nutrients you need through your diet. Let your food be your medicine first. Frequently evaluate what you are eating, what you are lacking and research the right ways to improve your diet.
If you struggle to figure it out, work with a Health Coach like me who can guide you in making healthy decisions that lead to a lifetime of wellness. What’s your struggle?
*Please note, I am not a doctor or nutritionist. These are my personal opinions. If you choose to try or take supplements, please consult your physician prior to use.