Supplements as a whole have seen a massive trend rise over the past few years. There is a wide selection to choose from regardless of your health concern, the goal in mind or general wellbeing journey, which means that they can fit within any diet or health plan and be completely tailored to your needs.
However, many are hesitant to use supplements because, truthfully, they just don’t know much about it. There can be a wealth of information surrounding the topic. Still, it’s not always immediately apparent how supplements can help with the more common concerns and the actual benefits of taking them.
While taking supplements for overall health and wellbeing is a well-known benefit, and many of us do without thinking – those morning vitamins? – there are many more benefits to incorporating supplements into your daily routine that you might not be aware of.
So a health supplement improving your physical health might seem like something you know, but do you know the whole story? The misconception is that supplements are just good for workouts, which is true, but not the entire truth.
Depending on the supplements you take can improve all parts of your physical well being. For example, curcumin supplements help reduce inflammation in your body, allowing our bodies to become naturally better at fighting inflammation and the stresses that this places on the body. This is important because inflammation is one of the leading causes of chronic conditions like osteoarthritis.
As important as maintaining physical health through exercise and workouts are, people largely neglect the whole other aspect of physical fitness, like maintaining those cell-level functions, which is easy to do because we can’t see it.
For example, taking supplements that help the core processes of your body, like curcumin, collagen, even something as objectively simple as a comprehensive vitamin, can provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function correctly. Nutrients that all too often are not found in modern diets. There are many, many supplements out there designed to help with all aspects of physical health – not just workouts!
So why not start by searching around for how you’ve been feeling? If you’ve been lethargic, understand what your body might be lacking, and see what supplements out there can help. Taking supplements shouldn’t be a ‘fix all’ approach, but it’s a great way to add to your lifestyle while working on taking care of your body!
Along with our physical health, our mental well being is also positively affected by certain supplements. Whether that’s taking supplements with brain-boosting vitamins and nutrients for better daily function, taking supplements that help calm you down or even improve your sleep.
Mental health is a huge part of physical health, and it’s important to remember that our brains are a muscle – the most complex we have in our bodies – and we should be taking care of it just as much, if not more, than our other muscles.
For example, a recent study led by the University of Manchester and NICM Health Research Institute and Western Sydney University found that taking omega-3 has significantly reduced the impacts of depression, more than antidepressants alone. There was also a suggestion that omega-3 had a positive effect on symptoms of ADHD.
Taking supplements is not the only, or best, way to help symptoms or reduce mental health conditions that impact daily lives, like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or bipolar. However, it’s been shown that providing our brains with a higher level of the nutrients required for optimal function can help these conditions, in addition to conventional treatment offered by health professionals.
A vitamin deficiency can negatively impact mental health and how our brains function from a cognitive perspective. Lacking vitamin B, for example, can lead to an impact on our memory function.
Folate supplements have been linked to reducing the symptoms of depression when combined with conventional treatments – as this helps the body to create healthy red blood cells, which improves the function of the brain.
So while taking supplements is usually centred around the benefits they have on our physical bodies, ensuring that we’re providing our brains with the necessary nutrients, vitamins and complex proteins and so on can have life-altering, positive effects on our mental health.
As many vegetarians and vegans know, it can be challenging to try and gain all your nutrients and the proteins you need when restricted by what you can eat. So few places offer genuinely good substitutes and can take a lot of time out just to make the right meal that will give you all you need.
It’s also hard for people who don’t follow a vegetarian or vegan diet to ensure that the right nutrients are consumed. So ensuring that our bodies get the goodness they deserve and need to function while vegan or vegetarian is essential.
Some supplement brands might still be using a non-vegan friendly casing for their products, so the ingredients and compounds within the supplements must be examined closely before purchase to make sure they’re vegan friendly!
However, supplement brands are now taking note of the ever-growing vegetarian and vegan community and creating supplements that before were not available to people following these lifestyles. This is a huge step forward for many – there are even vegan-only brands dedicated to providing only vegan supplements!
One major supplement that was not accessible was omega 3, as the most ‘traditional’ source is fish oil even though many plant-based sources are just as rich in this nutrient – which made sourcing high-quality supplements tricky for vegans. However, this is no longer the case!
Because omega 3 has, you guessed it, three main types utilised by the human body, it’s important to do your research and understand the difference between ALA, DHA and EPA – all are essential elements of omega 3 from different sources. And while some of us might have the time to source high quality produce like seed oils, nuts and legumes, more often than not, it’s just as easy to find a good vegan supplement and boost it this way.
Another supplement that was previously inherently not vegetarian or vegan is collagen. However, there is now a wide range of vegan collagen supplements that provide the same body-boosting goodness of this essential protein but derived entirely from plant sources.
Though there is still a long way to go, the supplement industry is now making huge strides by producing products, such as omega 3 and collagen alternatives that still offer the same nutrients but can cater to a broader market. Making supplements accessible to all, despite diet or lifestyle choices.
Now a lot has been discussed regarding what supplements give you and ways it improves your meals and your overall day to day life. However, it can also take away; supplements offer great ways of improving health by taking away and reducing health risks.
Collagen: The supplement collagen is a great product to help improve several aspects of your health. By taking collagen, this reduces the fat in our arteries, meaning you are less likely to suffer from heart disease.
As well as heart disease, collagen also improves bone strength and protects joints, leading to a reduction in the risk of suffering from arthritis in later life leading to long term health benefits.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D supplements are needed to be consumed regularly as it reduces the risk of bone deficiency and bone pain and lowers the risk of broken or fractured bones due to keeping them and the muscle around them strong.
Vitamin D is a supplement that we must be wary of how much we consume throughout the year, as our bodies require more over the winter months due to the lack of sun. Introducing this supplement is a great way to keep ourselves from feeling weaker and improve our mental health over the winter months.
Anti-Oxidants: Taking supplements that are high in anti-oxidants, like turmeric and cranberry, for example, are one of the best ways to reduce the impact of harmful ‘free radicals’ in our body. These are the molecules that enter our bodies when we are exposed to smoke or radiation. They’re highly reactive with the fatty acids in our bodies, so taking anti-oxidants can significantly reduce the repercussions of these free radicals, improving overall health.
This is just a glimpse at some of the benefits of taking supplements in our long term wellbeing, not just short term health – and it’s always best to do some digging first! Research the supplements that might be best for you and ensure you’re finding high-quality products.
Although a lot of the time, food is the most beneficial and easy way to consume the nutrients we need, rather than supplements. But there are a few circumstances where the supplements themselves are better for you and the healthier product to consume.
For the majority of products, vitamins are better absorbed as supplements rather than food products. Because the vitamins and nutrients within supplements enter the bloodstream, this provides a more efficient utilisation than being ingested through food – plus, it’s quicker! With high-quality supplements, most of the goodness is absorbed within the first hour of consumption.
For example, curcumin is usually created with black pepper extract, which boosts our absorption of the product by around 2000%. Plus, it’s more effective in our bodies when absorbed this way, getting to the areas of our bodies that need it the most, quicker.
Plus, it’s nearly impossible to get the right amount of curcumin from just turmeric alone because of the density of the curcumin in the natural ingredient – so taking a curcumin supplement is the easiest way to absorb this beneficial nutrient.
Many people also don’t realise that the way we cook certain foods can negatively affect how nutritional they still are. When boiled, vegetables release some of their most beneficial nutrients, so when we empty the water out, we lose a large proportion of what is good about them.
Whereas supplements can be absorbed there and then and will provide you with a higher level of the vitamins and nutrients needed.
While there are many health and wellbeing benefits of taking supplements, these were five key ways that the right supplement can benefit the physical or mental health journey you’re on.
Though supplements mustn’t be viewed as the best way to cure illness or actively fight disease, taking high-quality supplements improves our overall health before illness happens and can positively impact our mental health.
When combined with a healthy lifestyle, supplements can significantly improve our health in whatever shape that is for you.