While the supplement industry is not classified as a drug and is not regulated by the Government in the U.S, many Americans take supplements. In fact, from 2011 to 2012, 52% of adults reported using supplements within the past 30 days 1. Clearly, the supplement being largely unregulated is not deterring people from incorporating them in their health regimen. If you are not currently apart of nearly half of the population already taking supplements, it’s important to know why supplements should be added to your diet.
What are Supplements?
Dietary supplements are typically a way to “supplement” your diet with added vitamins, minerals, or other sorts of nutrients. They can come in various forms including capsules, pills, gel tabs, liquids, and extracts 2. Typically, these products contain various sorts of nutrients that you might want to add to your diet including but not limited to vitamins, minerals, amino acids, healthy fats, or enzymes. Because they are not classified as drugs, the industry is largely unregulated and they can be purchased over the counter without a doctor’s prescription.
Should You Take Supplements and Why Would You Need To?
Ideally, you wouldn’t need any supplement. In an ideal world, you would get every single nutrient that you need directly from your diet and lifestyle alone. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where the Standard American Diet is seriously deficient in healthy food options and various essential nutrients. In fact, 96% of Americans don’t even reach the minimum recommended servings for greens and 98% don’t reach the minimum for orange vegetables 3. Along with this, 58.5% of total energy intake from average Americans in 2007 to 2012 came from ultra-processed foods 4. Unless you are currently following an optimal diet featuring plenty of whole foods including animal protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, you are likely going to be suffering from gaps in your nutrition.
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Unfortunately, even with optimal diets being followed, you might be suffering from deficiencies or inefficiencies in your lifestyle which can cause you to need additional nutrient supplementation.
For instance, a majority of people nowadays spend a lot less time outdoors than ever before. A 2011 study showed that the overall prevalence rate of vitamin D deficiency was 41.6% and increasingly prevalent among both blacks and Hispanics 5. As a result of spending more time outdoors also influenced by the prevalence of sunscreen has led to a significant jump in deficiency among the entire population. In fact, a sunscreen with as little as 15 SPF protection can cut the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D by 99% 6. As a result, the only way you are going to be able to significantly increase the amount of vitamin D in your body is through added supplementation of vitamin D.
There are plenty of other instances where even a healthy diet could result in significant nutrient deficiencies and gaps. For instance, vegans that deprive themselves of meat might be integrating a much healthier diet and lifestyle than the traditional Standard American Diet, but not getting meat can ultimately lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency which is primarily obtained through the consumption of animal, fish, or dairy sources 7.
Also, if you are going to be implementing a workout routine that is intensive to build muscle mass, you are likely going to need to add more protein to your diet for optimal results. Without getting sufficient intake of protein when attempting to build mass, you risk losing your efforts in the gym altogether. Your body requires increased protein intake to build muscle mass effectively. To get the required 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight through diet alone is likely to be impractical. Therefore, you might benefit from adding a high-quality protein supplement to your diet.
Likewise, if you are not consistently getting fish and high-quality healthy fat sources in your diet, you are going to benefit from adding a high-quality fish supplement. That way, you are able to effectively balance out the omega-6 that you are likely taking in through your diet. After all, studies show that the ratio of omega-6 consumption to omega-3 consumption has risen from 1 to 20 to 1 in recent years 8. This increase in omega-6 intake to omega-3 has led to an increased risk of diseases rooted in inflammation. Without taking in enough fish and healthy oils to balance it out, you require the intake of healthy fat oils through supplementation. This can improve your diet tremendously and even if you are implementing a healthy diet, it is likely that you are not taking in enough omega-3 to counteract the negative health effects of omega-6 consumption. Additionally, you can compound these efforts with the help of essential oils in our Healthy personal aromatherapy diffuser.
Always Speak With Your Doctor Prior To Taking Any Supplement
The best way to ultimately determine if you need supplements and to figure out what supplements you need is to speak with your doctor. Your health care professional should be able to guide you in the right direction when it comes to figuring out what supplements to take. They will be able to complete a thorough blood test which will show specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies that you have that need to be addressed through supplementation.
In the end, deciding whether or not you should take specific supplements can be a big decision. This is especially true if you are considering adding supplements that can have serious potential health ramifications one way or another. For instance, any supplement that can result in toxicity when taken should only be taken under a registered health providers supervision. Fat-soluble vitamins can build up in excess amounts. Whereas, water-soluble vitamins are capable of being excreted effectively through urine. Therefore, you should always consider what you are looking at, the quality of the supplement, the reputation of the brand and manufacturer, and whether or not you are sure you should be taking it.
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