Supplement use is very common. People take all kinds of supplements, from everyday vitamins and minerals to sports nutrition supplements like creatine and whey protein. The right supplements can significantly enhance your health, fill gaps in your diet, and boost your performance if you are an athlete. However, how well supplements work does depend on several factors, which we will discuss below.
1. Not Understanding How Supplements Work
There are a lot of supplements out there, all designed to have a different impact on your health. Just taking the first supplement you read about or choosing one someone recommended because it worked for them, is a bad idea.
Do some research before you buy supplements. Find out whether they are likely to help you and verify whether they are suitable for you if you have pre-existing health conditions. Consult a doctor if you have any questions about whether a supplement is right for you.
2. Not Buying Reputable Brands
It’s really important to pay close attention to the quality of the supplements you purchase. Low-quality supplements are made from low-quality ingredients, which could also be contaminated by things like heavy metals. Supplements manufactured by inferior brands may not have the active ingredients you need to see a difference. Or they could be less bioavailable. In other words, they are not worth your money.
It’s always best to stick with reputable brands known for producing high-quality products. This doesn’t mean you need to pay over the odds, as there are supplement digital coupons and discount codes available to cut the cost of any supplements you buy. By all means look for savings, but not at the expense of your health.
3. Ignoring Dosage Instructions
Always read the dosage instructions before taking a supplement. This is super important as, if you don’t, you could end up underdosing or worse, overdosing. This applies to any supplement, even innocuous ones like multivitamins. Any ingredient in a multivitamin is toxic in large doses, but calcium and iron are the most dangerous. Taking too much iron causes vomiting and weakness, and may lead to coma, liver failure, and death. A calcium overdose affects the kidneys and the heart and can lead to mental confusion, among other things.
4. Failing to Consider Nutrient Interactions
Supplements can interact with each other and some should not be taken at the same time. For example, zinc interferes with iron and copper absorption and some supplements need to be taken with fat to ensure proper absorption. It’s important to check all this before you start taking supplements, or you could end up wasting your time and money or seeing adverse effects. By doing some research and reading up on the supplement you plan to take, you can learn how to optimize your supplement regime around your diet.
5. Not Customizing for Personal Factors
Age, gender, and health all affect how well supplements work and which ones you need to take. Even something like the size of a pill matters. After all, not everyone can comfortably swallow a massive pill, and some people prefer to take their supplements as a drink or medicine.
6. Ignoring Lifestyle Factors
While supplementation is useful and can make a difference, it won’t cancel out all the damage done by an unhealthy lifestyle. Yes, you can top up your vitamin D and pop protein shakes to help build muscle, but if you spend 18 hours a day at a desk and rarely eat any fruit and vegetables, supplements aren’t going to help all that much.
Be mindful and well-informed before taking supplements and you’ll enjoy much better results.