Do Food Supplements Really Work?

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With our raising health concerns and dietary habits that leave a lot to be desired, no wonder the vitamins and food supplements industry is booming.

The market is only expected to grow in the forthcoming years, focusing on weight loss and energy supplements, as well as meeting the needs of persons with cardiovascular health problems, a rising geriatric population, and other segments of the market, such as pregnant women, athletes, etc.

However, with so many dietary supplements claiming to boost your health, ward off disease, get you fit, or help you lose weight, you can not help but wonder – do they really deliver on their promises?

What Does Science Say?

With half of the adult population being overweight or obese, Americans spend over $2 billion per year on weight-loss supplements, trying to shed off those extra pounds.

What most of them do not know is that some of these supplements can contain dozens of ingredients, some of them up to 90, coming from various sources: plants, minerals, dietary fibers, etc.

The amount of specific information regarding these ingredients varies considerably, as well as the quality of studies that were conducted on humans (if any). It’s even more complicated when multiple ingredients are included as most often nothing can be said about the effects that a specific combination can have on your body.

Out of 24 ingredients that are most commonly used in weight-loss products, such as beta-glucans, African mango, green tea, calcium and carnitine, studies have shown that just a few of them, such as chromium or green tea have some (so to say, minimal) effect on weight loss.

When it comes to dietary supplements for exercise and athletic performance, out of 20 most common ingredients such as antioxidants, tart cherry, branched-chain amino acids, creatine, caffeine, and protein, few of them are found to have value for certain types of activity.

Caffeine, for example, might enhance performance in endurance-type activities, such as running and is considered reasonably safe in limited dosage.

However, many of the ingredients used in food supplements come with some safety concerns or reported adverse effects, not to mention the unknown impact of their combinations. That’s why it’s important to bear in mind that some of them might even harm your health or interact with the medications that you’re already taking.

Get Your Nutrients From Food First

So, while some food supplements can indeed be beneficial for your body, you need to rely on your nutrition first in order to be healthy.

Adopting a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibers is a tastier way to nourish your body, and to do so in a risk-free manner. 

Fortunately, you can now easily enrich your diet by choosing from various high-quality foods in better-supplied health food stores. Manuka honey, chia seeds, cider vinegar, and organic dark chocolate are just some of the foods you can find in Health Matters online shop offer, and feed your body with all the micro and macronutrients you need.

To be complete, your diet needs to be diverse.This means consuming more whole, nutrient-dense foods such as salmon, kale, seaweed, shellfish, garlic, potatoes, liver, sardines, blueberries, cacao, egg yolks, etc.

When Do I Need Supplements?

Using food supplements is, however, justified when your body is not getting enough of what it needs to function well.

Our age and gender determine our needs, but our lifestyle and overall health impact them as well.

Take vitamin D as an example. Our bodies could produce it on their own if they had enough sun exposure. Still, some of us spend a great deal of time inside, and we generally use sunblock to protect ourselves from the risk of skin cancer, thus limiting the production of vitamin D.

If we don’t like eating fish and don’t have it in our diet, there is a fair chance we may have a deficiency of this vital vitamin, crucial for keeping our bones and muscles strong and strengthening our immune system.

The same goes for probiotics, as they’re vital for the health of our digestive and immune system. If you don’t regularly eat fermented foods such as kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, etc. you’re missing on the probiotics that will keep the balance in your gut. If you’ve been taking antibiotics, your body craves them even more.

In such cases, a daily pill of vitamin D or probiotics can be good for you and prove to be beneficial for your health.

However, to make sure that you’re meeting your health goals, it’s essential to consult your doctor or a certified nutritionist before you reach out for a supplement.