The human body is a complex mechanism. It is made up of trillions of cells, all comprising multiple systems that must function in order for you to survive. If these body systems are unable to do what they must, your physical health will suffer.
For the cells to do their jobs, you must provide them with energy and resources. This comes from the food that you eat. Your body processes the vitamins and minerals inside of food and delivers them to the appropriate cells so that they can use them as fuel to function.
A well-balanced diet will provide the right nutrients for cells to keep working and reproducing. However, some people choose to rely on supplements for various purposes to get specific types of nutrients. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of supplements.
Pro: Concentrated Nutrients
One of the main reasons people take supplements is because they want a greater intake of a specific nutrient. Supplements typically come in very small forms, including pills, capsules, gels, powders, or bars. Often, all you have to do is take one of these items to get a highly concentrated amount of the associated nutrients. The reason for this could be a diet gap or simply because the person wants to increase their levels of a specific nutrient because of how the body uses it.
Con: Poor Food Substitute
Unfortunately, a lot of people rely on supplements to cover up gaps in their nutrition. Some people may have allergies or other valid reasons to use supplements for diet gaps, but in general, supplements are poor substitutes for food. Food is a much more efficient delivery system and provides other materials needed, such as calories. If you start using supplements to make up for skipping certain food groups, your health may not change at all or could even grow worse.
Pro: Diverse Uses
Since supplements can supply your body with a wide range of nutrients, they can be used for different reasons. There is a strong connection between nutrition and fitness, so many people will use a caffeine supplement to inject more energy into their bodies before a workout. Similarly, a protein-based supplement, such as a protein shake, is great for muscle development after a workout.
These are just two examples of the many scenarios where supplements can be very beneficial.
Con: Misleading Labels
Supplements are not technically medication, so they are not regulated as strictly. This has caused some supplement manufacturers to use misleading marketing practices to sell their products. Be wary of the claims that specific supplements make on their labels or in other advertising channels, as they could very well be exaggerated. Also, make sure you read all the ingredients to ensure you know what you are consuming.
There are certainly some products on the market that are more expensive. However, you can often buy containers that give you days, weeks, or even months of supply for certain supplements that are well worth the cost, such as calcium supplements. Many of them are designed to support the health of your body, so the ongoing usage of these products can be a great practice that doesn’t require a huge investment.
Con: Can Interact with Medications
As mentioned before, you should always read the ingredients on the labels of supplement products. It is also a good idea to speak to your doctor if you are thinking about taking supplements so that you can be sure it will not have any adverse effects on your health. One potential issue could be the ingredients interacting with the medications that you are taking. This is a common mistake that some people make, so talk to your doctor first. Also, never take more than the recommended dosage of the supplement, as overdoing it could be dangerous.
Are Supplements Worth It?
The main question is if supplements are worth taking. They provide a boost of nutrients to your body that your cells can use. Often, you can find inexpensive supplies that will last for a while, and there are many uses for which supplements can be useful. However, there are cons as well. Sometimes, the marketing can be misleading, making promises that you will not see pan out. Supplements are also not a substitute for nutrition from a balanced diet, so are they really accomplishing what you hope for?
If you plan to start taking supplements to support health, you need to do your research first. Whether that means gaining an understanding of specific products to see how they work or consulting your doctor first, it is important to operate from a place of understanding.