Supplementation is an important part of health and fitness. The market is worth billions, and although there are aggressive advertisements and misinformation out there about supplements, there's also a lot of value to supplements if you use the right ones for the right reasons.
Supplements Back-Up Your Diet
The key to supplementation is in the name, a supplement is designed to do exactly that: supplement the nutrients that you get from your daily diet. In an ideal world, you would take in just the right amount of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and not require anything else.
Unfortunately, most people cannot achieve that. One recent survey conducted in Britain found that six out of ten adults eat the same meals every day.1
Even if those meals are decently chosen ones with fruits and vegetables, the repetitive nature of the average diet means that it's highly likely that people are missing out on essential nutrients, and that's where supplements come in. Let's take a look at some of the best supplements for men's health.
The recommended dietary allowance for protein is quite modest, at just 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is the amount that is the absolute bare minimum for basic health.2
A moderately active adult male would need to eat significantly more than that. As more and more people are opting to cut meat out of their diets, protein recommendations are falling by the wayside. If you are struggling to take in enough protein, then a protein shake is a simple and convenient way to increase your daily intake.
Creatine is another one of the common, basic supplements popular in the sports nutrition industry, and it is easy to understand why because it has been proven to be effective in improving strength and power, as well as performance in resistance exercises.3
If you are an active man, then you may benefit from supplementing creatine. The supplement got a bad reputation a couple of decades ago because early products caused bloating and water retention, but newer versions of creatine, known as micronized creatine do not cause bloating and are therefore more pleasant to take.
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is important for heart health. It helps to improve blood flow and prevent clogged arteries by reducing the levels of homocysteine in the body. The nutrient also plays an important role in the maintenance of DNA integrity.4
Folic acid deficiency is something that is particularly common in pregnant women, but it is also something that can be linked to alcoholism and even restrictive diets. Men can be deficient in folic acid too, and the signs of deficiency are easy to miss because they include tiredness and fatigue, confusion, and memory issues.5
Supplementing folic acid for a short time to see if it offers any health and well-being improvements for you could be a wise move.
A lot of athletes like magnesium because it helps prevent muscle cramps and spasms, but that's not the only use for it. Another important use for magnesium is that it helps maintain healthy blood pressure.6
That's not to say that you should swap out your statins for magnesium if you already have high blood pressure, but if you've been told to keep an eye on your blood pressure levels because they're borderline, then magnesium supplementation could be useful for you.
The science behind fish oil is controversial at the moment. Generally, omega-3 fatty acids are important for human health. Also, they must come from foods because the body cannot make them. They are used for brain function, fighting inflammation
, and for healthy brain development.
Being deficient in omega-3 fatty acids is thought to increase the risk of arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. However, excessive intake of these fatty acids can increase the risk of other cancers. The trick, as with anything else, is to take them in moderation.7
Ideally, you would get your fatty acids from fish and seafood, but if you detest such foods, then taking a single fish oil capsule per day could be a wise option.
Zinc is an important mineral that helps with wound healing, tissue growth, and immune system function. Zinc deficiency is rare for most people in the western world, but it can happen if you follow a repetitive diet.
Studies show that taking zinc can actually help reduce the severity and duration of symptoms of the common cold.8
This means that it could well be worth taking a zinc supplement during the peak cold season or if you're just worried about feeling run down in general.
The above supplements are ones that have been found to be effective for a large number of people. There are many other supplements on the market, including ones which promise to work as testosterone boosters, speed up recovery between workouts, improve sexual function, restore hair, and perform numerous other incredible functions.
In general, the bolder the claims the supplement maker is printing on the label, the more questionable they are likely to be. Most people would not benefit from spending a huge amount of money on supplements. Even those who swear by them are often benefiting only from the placebo effect.
The best strategy is to aim to eat a balanced, varied diet and then to take supplements
only for areas where you know you may have a deficit A little nutrition knowledge and planning will go a long way towards improving your overall health and well-being and could save you a lot of money. Stick to the basics and you should find that you have more energy, feel healthier, and have improved mental clarity as well.
PhotoCredits: ronstik/shutterstock.com, itakdalee/shutterstock.com, bitt24/shutterstock.com, EvanLorne/shutterstock.com, pikselstock/shutterstock.com