Do you cringe when the word “supplements” is mentioned? You aren’t alone. Many people feel the same way, and for a good reason. Over the last few years, several high-profile examples of supplements are not exactly as advertised.
In some cases, they didn’t even contain anything wholesome at all! And while that doesn’t mean that all supplements are bad or a waste of money, it does mean that we should always do our research before buying any supplement. Supplements are just that – a supplement to your diet and regular intake of foods like vitamins and minerals. They are not supposed to be an alternative source of those nutrients but rather something additional to add some value to your diet in certain circumstances.
What Are Supplements for?
We all know that nutrients are essential to a healthy diet and that our bodies will suffer without them. Supplements are meant to provide a dose of specific nutrients that might be difficult to get from your regular diet. This can be for several reasons, including dietary restrictions such as veganism and vegetarianism or even allergies like gluten intolerance. Athletes and those who engage in regular and strenuous exercise may also want to take certain supplements, as many of the nutrients (particularly electrolytes) lost during heavy training can also be difficult to get enough of your regular diet.
Research, Research, Research
When researching supplements, the best rule is to look for “research-backed” and “scientifically proven.” Supplements are often advertised with all kinds of claims, like “activates the metabolism” or “promotes weight loss.” Unfortunately, these are not regulated by the FDA, and there’s no real way to tell if they’re true. The best way to tell if something is a scam or not is to look at the research that was done to support it. If it’s a reputable company with a solid product, they should be proud enough of the research to put it right up front.
Don’t be fooled by claims.
We’ve already talked about the claims you’ll see in ads and on the packaging, but what about the actual ingredients in the supplements themselves? Some additives and ingredients don’t have anything to do with the benefits you’re hoping to get from a supplement. For example, in a recent investigation, the New York Times found several supplements that contained only a spoonful of cornstarch. The rest of it was just filler. As with the claims, look for recognizable and wholesome ingredients. This will help you avoid the “filler” supplements that are just a rip-off.
Look at the ingredients list.
The ingredients list is right there in black and white. It might be tedious to look through the different ingredients, but it’s important. To help you out, you can use health kits to see the individual ingredients and their potential benefits and side effects. If something sounds like it would be helpful, like Magnesium, it’s a good sign. If it sounds like it would be harmful, like Hydrochloric Acid, you might want to steer clear.
Read the reviews
The reviews can be a great way to get a feel for any product you’re considering buying. You’re more likely to find helpful reviews for supplements than you are for just about any other product. Supplements are a realm where people are eager to share their experiences, good and bad. In most cases, you can also find out how many people left reviews. If a review is listed as “Verified purchase,” the reviewer bought the product on Amazon or from the company’s website. That’s helpful in terms of knowing if it’s a good review or not.
Are you struggling to get enough of a certain nutrient? A supplement might be the answer. Additionally, supplements can also be helpful if you exercise heavily or regularly. With that in mind, you should feel confident in taking supplements and finding the right ones for your needs and lifestyle.