Health Supplements

Health supplements are all the rage these days, and they come in more varieties than you could wrap your head around if you spend a whole weekend with a clipboard and pencil trying to make an exhaustive list.

The bottom line is that whether you want to get bigger muscles, burn some fat, burn some fat from your belly, in particular, boost your memory, boost your mood, get to sleep easier at night, become a better weightlifter, experience better digestion, or any number of other things, there’s some health supplement that might help you out. Or, at least, that claims it might.

But, with all this choice spread out before us, what do we really need to know and consider when it comes to taking health supplements? Well, here are some questions that it might be worth keeping in mind.

Image via stevepb
Image via stevepb

Are the proportions of various substances in the supplement within recommended daily allowance guidelines?

Many supplements out there — particularly those that feature vitamins and minerals — include dosages of various compounds that far exceed the daily recommended allowance guidelines.

For certain water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin C, this is not likely to be a problem. Overdose on some vitamins such as selenium or zinc, however, and you can find yourself experiencing some serious health problems.

Ideally, any supplement you take will stick broadly within the daily recommended allowance guidelines. Vitamin supplement stores will tend to have a large selection on offer, and it’s worth taking the time to check the labels, to see exactly how each particular supplement matches the RDA guidelines.

Is there good evidence for the supplement actually being effective?

A few sports supplements have been shown quite clearly to have some potentially helpful effect. Creatine monohydrate, for example, is known to help to increase the amount of energy that your muscles can store and produce, which, in turn, boosts athletic performance.

In fact, some research even indicates that there could be benefits of creatine supplementation for mental function, among other things.

Similarly, whey protein supplements are known to be a fast-digesting form of protein that might have some significant benefit for muscle gain, when used to keep overall protein intake at adequate levels.

Unfortunately, though, there are plenty of sports supplements which are not supported by good scientific evidence, and which rely largely on flashy branding to get out to the general public.

Spend a moment doing your own research on a particular sports supplement to see what official bodies and organisations have to say about it, before committing to buying it.

Are there safer, cheaper, or more reliable natural alternatives to the supplement?

Many fat burner supplements are made up largely of caffeine and green tea extract, both of which seem to have some significant effect on fat burning.

Because the fat burner pills which contain these ingredients are often so concentrated, however, it has happened that people have had lethal overdoses as a result of taking too many pills at once.

Drinking coffee and green tea would largely have the same benefits, while tasting better, being cheaper, and reducing the risk of such an episode.

Maintain your natural skepticism when shopping for supplements, and don’t let marketing hype convince you to spend a lot of money for a potentially risky supplement when a cup of coffee might be a decent compromise.


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