Are supplements just a health craze or is there real value in taking them?
Why do people take supplements in the first place?
Can’t you get all the nutrition you need from your food?
If you’re eating healthy does this exempt you from needing supplements?
Should you take supplements if you’re pregnant? What supplements should you take if you’re pregnant?
I mean, we hear a lot of talk about supplements these days, but are they necessary? And, more importantly, are they necessary for YOU?
Okay, so enough with the questions! Let’s get down to the answers…
Here we’ll discuss the reasons you might actually need to take a supplement and what supplementation can do for the health of your body. We’ll break it down into 5 broad reasons and 5 specific reasons.
Oh, but one more question first…kidding…just the answers/reasons from here on out, as promised! 🙂
5 Broad Reasons You Might Need A Supplement
1- Man Can’t Live On Bread Alone
Okay, I’m not actually going to wax biblical here – for those that are familiar with that scriptural thought – but what we are going to address here is the fact that, unfortunately, the foods you consume just don’t cut it completely when it comes to your body’s nutritional needs.
I get it, you’re scratching your head, rolling your eyes, the whole nine.
Because…our ancestors, and even just as far back as our grandparents or great-grandparents, seemed to do just fine nutritionally, right?
That is correct, for the most part.
Unfortunately, we live in a very different world than those who came before us.
Research shows two things:
- Varying environmental differences have made today’s foods less nutrient dense than in the past.
- Most people, a whopping 90% to be exact, don’t get the recommended amount of nutrients needed by the body through food alone.
So then, man can’t live on bread (food) alone.
Supplements fill in the gaps where your body lacks essential nutrients.
So yes, even if you eat a fairly healthy diet, even those healthy foods you are eating may not be able to fully provide your body with the nutrients it needs.
And thus, taking a supplement, or supplements would be highly beneficial.
2- Your Diet Stinks, And You Know It
So, if folks who eat healthy may still need supplements to bridge nutritionals gaps for optimal health, what if you seriously run on Dunkin’ most days.
You know, full on Jackson Browne here…you’re runnin’ on empty, and you know it. Your body literally craves nutrition.
A Twinkie for breakfast, a Ho-Ho for a midmorning snack, washed down with a Redbull.
Lunch rolls around and while you’re waiting on your burger and fries in the drive-thru, Kid Rock comes on the radio and you sing “I ain’t seen an apple, in 3 dang days.”
Hey, not judging here…but, just wanting to point out the fact that your body craving nutrition may mean it’s time for that apple…or some supplementation.
Processed foods, junk foods, and stress (and face it, generally folks grab for more processed foods and junk foods when stressed) equate to poor digestion and thus poor nutrient absorption.
And, I’m not saying that supplements are a cure all and will replace the need for a healthy diet, but, if you truly are (like 37% percent of all adults) consuming junk foods for at least one meal a day, then supplements can help to prevent some of the damage such eating habits are causing.
3- Your Gym Gains May Mean Nutrient Losses
Now, don’t go hopping off the treadmill after reading that heading.
Your gym efforts are by no means unhealthy (well, unless you’re taking things to unhealthy extremes), it’s just that you may need to evaluate your body’s needs based on your output.
If you exercise frequently, and especially if you’re giving it your all in the gym on a regular basis, your body may require more nutrients than “normal.”
When you exercise, your body uses stored nutrients for fuel. And, if you don’t refuel properly, your body won’t recover properly, plain and simple.
Supplements can help rebuild what your body loses through exercise, just be sure to tailor your supplement regime to your personal needs. (doctor visits and even blood tests can pinpoint these specifics if needed)
4- Not Everything Gets Better With Age
You’ve heard that adage, “everything gets better with age.” I’d tend to agree in many ways…except when it comes to nutrient absorption.
Okay, there’s surely a few other things too, but overall, we’re all truly amazing, aging like fine wine, right?
But, back to the nutrient absorption.
Unfortunately, as we get older, our bodies don’t function as well when it comes to breaking down nutrients, which is an essential part of nutrient absorption.
To make matters worse, for many folks, with age comes a medicine cabinet, and not just for antiseptic and bandages but equipped with an actual pillbox. And, those medications can both interfere with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and deplete nutrients as well.
So, once again, supplements to the rescue. You may indeed need to begin taking or take different/varying supplements as you age.
5- An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure
While I wouldn’t call these two completely different schools of thought, as they do overlap in ways, there does seem to be a divide in regards to thoughts on health and wellness.
One approach seems to be reactive, “if I get sick, then I’ll…”
The other approach is more proactive, “I’ll do this, to avoid that…”
What am I getting at?
Just as your doctor would advise regular exercise, healthy eating, and getting adequate rest to facilitate health, supplementation can do the same.
Now, there’s no god-complex going on here, we’re not saying any of those things will ensure that you never get sick, never have health problems, etc.
But, exercise, sleep, and a focus on proper nutrition are all ways to promote health (rather than sickness) in your body.
And, as we covered in point #1, supplementation can go a long way in providing your body with the nutrition (essential vitamins and minerals) it needs to function in a healthy way.
5 Specific Reasons You Might Need A Supplement
6- You Are Anemic
Iron is a mineral. It is found within every cell in your body. It is essential in the production of red blood cells and needed to maintain a healthy immune system.
Unfortunately, some folks lack enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, a condition known as anemia.
In iron-deficient anemia, supplements can provide needed treatment, and give needed nutrition to help treat the symptoms of anemia, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Irregular heartbeat
(If you are anemic or suspect you have an iron deficiency, talk with your doctor about treatment and/or supplementation.)
7- You Have Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by bone loss. It causes bones to become weak and brittle, often leading to fractures from even minor incidents (like falls or stress on the body).
Within your body, your bones are continually being renewed as they are made up of living tissue. This renewal requires essential vitamins and minerals to occur efficiently.
In the case of osteoporosis, the renewal process in the bone slows down, essentially therefore you’ve got bone tissue breaking down faster than bone tissue can be replaced.
As proper nutrition plays a huge role in bone health, supplementation, even prior to an osteoporosis diagnosis, is beneficial.
If you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D supplementation (often taken together for absorption purposes) can support the health of your bones.
8- You’re Expecting, Here’s What To Expect
You’ve just gotten the joyful news, you’re pregnant! Nauseous…but pregnant.
And, now that you’re caring not only for yourself but also for your precious little one(s), your nutritional needs reflect this extra resident (or these extra residents with multiples).
Supplements are often recommended by midwives and obstetricians as a way to ensure both you and baby are getting the nutrients your body needs.
Your nutritional needs while pregnant are amplified to ensure you remain healthy, you healthily “grow” your baby, and that your baby healthily grows/develops.
From fish oil to folic acid, supplements once again can bridge nutritional gaps, especially when those gaps widen (just like your waistline) in your body’s efforts to “grow” your baby.
Supplementation needs can also continue postpartum as your body recovers from your pregnancy.
And, if you are breastfeeding, once again, supplementation can be beneficial (both for supporting milk production and to make up for lost nutrients as you nourish your baby).
9- You Have Celiac Disease
If you have an intolerance for gluten, specifically if you have Celiac disease, eating gluten can cause damage to your small intestine.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, and those people with Celiac disease not only miss out on the nutrients in foods (like whole grains) containing gluten, but celiac also hinders the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
In fact, some would say that people with Celiac disease have a greater need than most for taking supplements (from specific vitamins to mutli-vitamins).
10- Pass The Veggies, Pass On The Meat
Vegetarians and vegans often eat a diet full of nutritious, real foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and nutritious grains, etc.
But, there are some vitamins and minerals needed by the body that only come from animal sources.
Vitamin B12, for instance, can only be found in fortified foods and animal products.
If you do not eat meat, taking an iron, B12, or even a calcium supplement may be beneficial depending on your dietary needs.
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