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Supplements: The Ultimate Guide

Written by Sabrina Wilson and updated on December 11, 2017
Supplements

There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of you would have heard some rather conflicting information about supplements – not that this is all that surprising – there are literally thousands of supplements available on the market, many of which claim to impact health in a positive way.

Because of this it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine what supplements are worth your time, and what aren’t worth a grain of salt.
Hell, many of you may even be questioning whether you need to take supplements at all?

Which lends itself to today’s article – and believe you me, it is an absolute doozy. With this, I intend to answer any questions about supplements that you may have, while also touching on those supplements that are scientifically proven to have a positive impact on your health.

Why Do We Need Supplements?

This question is an interesting one. And I guess it depends on what types of supplements we are looking at. There are (in my mind) two primary types of supplements: a) those that ensure normal function, and b) those that target the improvement of a specific condition.

Ensuring Normal Function

A common argument revolves around the assumption that if we eat a well-rounded diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, and natural whole foods, then we should have no need for supplements. And while this argument is indeed a logical one, that doesn’t really mean it’s true.

We live in a world where the vast majority of our food is mass produced. This form of mass production also involves the use of intensive fertilizes and compounds to speed up the growth process as means to increase production speed.

Positively, this means that we as a society always have food readily available at the supermarket.

ACV Supplements

The negative of this is that the food we eat is not as nutrient-dense as it would be if it had been grown and produced organically. With this in mind, even if we are eating a diet rich in ‘good’ foods, we are still unlikely to be consuming an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals.

Additionally, as foods is so readily available to us, we tend to eat in a rather routine manner (as opposed to eating seasonally, as we did in more traditional settings). This means that we are likely to consume certain vitamins and minerals on the regular, while completely avoiding others.

While this is unquestionably unintentional, it still leaves us short on certain nutrients – which can have a seriously negative impact on health.

So in short, some supplements provide us with a means to ensure we have adequate nutrients available at all times. This will guarantee we don’t become deficient, which can have a host of negative health implications.

Targeting Specific Improvements

On the other hand, there are specific compounds that improve the body’s ability to function in a specific manner. These compounds typically come from all natural ingredients, and interact with the body at a chemical level to achieve a desired outcome.

Improve digestion or appetite

These type of supplements may improve the condition of a specific illness or disease, may improve energy levels, or even increase our ability to function either physically or mentally.

The important thing to not is that we may not necessarily need these supplements, as we can function without them – but they do offer a way to improve ourselves and get more out of our body – which obviously has a host of positives associated.

How Do We Know What’s in Our Supplements?

Now I will be the first to admit that the supplement industry can be a little shady at times. For every good quality supplement on the shelves, there is a dozen more with subpar ingredients and using sneaky marketing strategies to pry away your hard earned cash.

Herbal medicine

Taking this into consideration, there is certain ways to ensure that what we are taking is what we need (and want) to be taking.

Certain supplements may contain a number of different compounds (dependent on the goal of that supplement, of course). In an ideal world, each of those would offer an effective means to achieve the same specific outcome.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Many supplements include ‘filler’ ingredients, that have no scientific evidence to support their use, and are included merely as a way bring the cost of production down. To avoid this it is imperative that you pay close attention to the ingredients list of your supplements, and take note of what actually has evidence to support its use (which we will touch on further down this article).

Another easy way to achieve this is to select supplements that only have a couple of ingredients listed within their formula. This is an easy way to guarantee you are not getting any fillers, and as a bit of bonus, the active ingredients are also likely to be provided in slightly larger doses, rendering them more effective.

It is also important to note that a good quality supplement will often provide testing information on their website, meaning that you can take a good look at things like the purity and the ingredient list if you are so inclined.

Are There Any Safety Issues Associated With Taking Supplements?

As with most things, certain issues can arise if we take supplements without considering the potential negatives associated.

It is always important to remember that while most supplements contain ingredients that are essential to the maintenance of health and function, they are actually chemical in nature – this means that if we consume too much, they can become toxic.

Poison Tomato

For this reason, it is incredibly important that we play close attention to the supplement directions to ensure that we do not overconsume a given compound.

Additionally, some specific compounds are not suitable people in certain scenarios (such as individuals with high blood sugar or high blood pressure, women during pregnancy, or adolescent children). These supplements will have a warning label attached to their supplement description.

With this in mind, ensure you read the label closely to maximize safety.
It is also important to note that the vast majority of supplements available over the counter do not require a prescription for a very specific reason – namely they are safe to consume (even in relatively high doses).

As such, while we certainly implore you to read the label of anything you decide to take closely, it is quite unlikely that you will have an adverse reaction to anything purchased without the need for a prescription.

What Are the Best Supplements for Certain Conditions?

The supplement industry is one of the very few that has an abundance of research to supports its cause. Taking this into consideration, there are specific supplements that have been shown to positively impact a vast number of specific conditions, reducing their severity, while in some cases acting as an extremely potent preventative measure.

Best Supplements for Heart Health

There are a multitude of individual supplements that have been shown to impact the health of the heart in a positive manner. Those that currently appear both completely safe for consumption and demonstrate a large and positive effect include Coenzyme Q10 [1], Omega 3 Fatty Acids (AKA Fish oil supplementation) [2], and green tea [3]. See our full article here.

Best Supplements for Heart Health
Best Energy Supplements for Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue is an incredibly debilitating disease that results in extremely low energy levels. Despite its somewhat moderate prevalence, there has been very little luck identifying its cause, and subsequently, its cure.

Fatigue or tiredness

With this in mind, one of the best ways to combat chronic fatigue is to ensure that the body has all of the essential nutrients required for energy production readily available.

As such, a great option to supplement traditional chronic fatigue treatments is a high quality multi-vitamin that contains adequate amounts of Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Calcium, and Magnesium [4]. See our full article here.

Best Supplements for Energy

There are various supplements that can cause large increases in our energy levels, while also staving off feelings of fatigue and lethargy. Those which