Let’s start at the beginning. What exactly are supplements?
According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) a dietary supplement “contains a “dietary ingredient” intended to supplement the diet. The “dietary ingredients” in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites”.
What is the purpose for taking a supplement?
The function of a supplement is to “supplement” your diet; simply add in what your diet is missing. They will not however give you super powers. On that same note supplements should be a secondary thought; first you need to focus on your diet. If your diet is full of processed foods, fast foods, alcohol, and other “non-food” items there are no magic supplements that are going to undo the bad habits.
Do you really need supplements?
Even when you have your nutrition mastered it is difficult to not be deficient in certain areas. Take for instance Vitamin D; a 2010 study in the Nutrition Journal found that 42 percent of the U.S. adults were deficient in Vitamin D.
For us, living in the northeast it is incredibly difficult to get enough vitamin D from the most powerful natural source, the sun. The length of time you need in the sun varies on skin pigment. If your paler than pale (such as myself) you don’t need to spend a great deal of time in the sun, but since sunscreen blocks the absorption of UVB rays you’ll need to go out unprotected; which probable means you’ll end up looking like a lobster. The darker your skin pigment the more exposure you’ll need and in the winter the UVB rays are less intense not to mention less of your skin is exposed.
For me supplementing Vitamin D is a no-brainer. The negative effects of sun exposure; WRINKLES, age spots, and of course more serious things like skin cancer are easily outweighed by the convenience of taking a daily vitamin D supplement.
So Vitamin D is definitely a go to supplement and probably should be for most people. It’s also really easy to add a vitamin D test to the blood work you get for your yearly physical. This will let you know if you are low.
The other supplement that I think is a go-to is Fish Oil. The health benefits of fish oil are vast and it seems like it helps with everything. I am not going to go into it in this post as we have lots of posts on the subject. But suffice it to say if you are not taking fish oil you should be. It will help with you recovery from intense workouts, decrease joint pain and just make you more sexy (that last part is based on personal experience only)
Stronger Faster Healthier makes my favorite fish oil, I prefer the orange flavor and I also get it with vitamin D included. So I take 1 supplement in the morning that contains the big 2 in a single dose.
So if you are looking into supplements I would recommend starting with a good clean diet and adding in those 2. They will give you the best bang for your buck health and performance wise.