Everyone seems to be taking a supplement of some kind. In reality, the US market for dietary supplements is worth over $60 billion. Whether you’re looking to build muscle, increase immunity, or make up for a shortfall, a supplement might be the answer. While supplements cannot completely replace the nutrients that come from food, they may be an important part of your diet. But selecting a nutritional supplement can be challenging, so it’s critical to ask medical professionals for recommendations that are supported by research. Vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and branch chain amino acids are just a few examples of supplements. And although they might not always be medically necessary, there are some situations in which they might be beneficial. These are some possible explanations for why you might need a dietary supplement.
1. You Have an Identified Deficiency
Bloodwork should always be done to gather the information if you are worried about a nutrient shortage. Then, if you have proof of a shortfall, consult a doctor about any supplements you might require to remedy it. Iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B6 deficits are the most typical in the United States.
A supplement may be necessary if your bloodwork reveals a shortage in any of these nutrients. A water-soluble vitamin, vitamin B6 is found in many foods in its natural state. It is in charge of several crucial bodily processes, including the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Moreover, vitamin B6 aids in the production of hemoglobin, the immune system, and the brain.
2. You Are at Risk for a Specific Deficiency
You might be at risk for a certain deficiency if you have certain symptoms. If this is the case, your doctor will probably order routine blood tests to keep track of your nutritional status.
For instance, you are more likely to suffer from calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin D deficiency if you have a gastrointestinal problem such celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis. Also, you run the danger of developing the same deficits after gastric surgery, such as a colon resection or bariatric surgery, thus supplements are probably required.
Several prescription drugs have the potential to cause nutritional deficiency as well. For instance, several cancer medications might lead to folate deficiency. A blood pressure drug called angiotension-converting enzyme inhibitors interferes with zinc’s binding sites. Between 6% and 30% of people on metformin for the treatment of diabetes have vitamin B12 deficits. The dosage and length of treatment have an impact on how severe the insufficiency is. It could be necessary to take a B12 supplement to remedy this shortage.
3. You Follow a Vegan Diet
You may run the risk of developing a deficiency if you adhere to any diet that eliminates particular food groups. Many nutrients are either more readily available or only present in animal products. These nutritional deficits, which are less common in plant-based meals, constitute a problem for vegans.
Calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids are some of these nutrients. A study compared the nutritional status of non-vegans versus supplement-taking vegans. Due to the high supplementation rate, the study discovered virtually little difference across the groups.
4. You Don’t Get Enough Protein
You may run the danger of not receiving enough protein if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet or prefer foods with less protein. Poor development, anemia, physical weakness, edema, vascular dysfunction, and lowered immunity can all be caused by inadequate protein intake.
One practical strategy to improve your protein intake is by using protein powder as a supplement. Add protein powder to oatmeal, baked goods, soups, smoothies, and baked goods.
5. Your Goal Is to Gain Muscle
If your objective is to grow muscle, you may also require extra protein and supplements in addition to strength training and consuming adequate calories overall. The American College of Sports Medicine states that a person who frequently lifts weights should consume between 1.2 and 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day to increase muscle mass.
While eating protein-rich foods is the best approach to satisfy your needs, protein powder can be added to meals and snacks to give them an extra boost. According to studies, creatine can also improve workout performance, strength, and muscular mass. Creatine is related to amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, at the molecular level.
Glycine and arginine, two amino acids, are used by your body to make creatine. According to research, consuming creatine can change a number of cellular functions that boost muscular mass, strength, and recovery. Branched-chain amino acids are a crucial supplement you could require increasing your muscle mass (BCAAs). Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are a trio of necessary amino acids that the body is unable to synthesize. They have to be taken with food or supplements. There is evidence that taking a BCAA supplement can aid in boosting muscle growth and maintenance, even though many people consume adequate protein-rich foods that include these amino acids.
6. You’re Pregnant (or Looking to Become Pregnant)
Pregnancy increases your body’s dietary requirements; therefore you may wish to prepare your body for pregnancy nutritionally as well. Prenatal vitamins are advised for all women who are pregnant.
Look for a prenatal vitamin that has enough amounts of the nutrient’s calcium, folate, choline, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are crucial during pregnancy. Based on your unique diet and needs, your healthcare provider or prenatal dietician can recommend the vitamin or combination of vitamins that is ideal for you.
7. You Want to Boost Your Immunity
A robust immune system depends on proper diet and consuming adequate amounts of macro- and micronutrients. There are numerous products available that may make promises to increase your immunity, but you should be skeptical of these statements and only utilize treatments that have been scientifically proven to work. According to research, taking supplements of particular vitamins, minerals, and plants may enhance your immune system and shield you from disease. You need vitamin D to maintain a healthy immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a higher risk of upper respiratory tract infections. According to studies, taking vitamin D supplements may enhance immunological function.
Another mineral required for a strong immune system is zinc. Zinc contributes to the inflammatory response and is necessary for the growth of immune cells. According to research, a zinc shortage has been revealed to be the cause of 16% of deep respiratory infections. Vitamin C may be the immune system supplement that people take the most frequently. The function of immune cells is supported by vitamin C, which also increases their capacity to defend against infection. The intensity and duration of upper respiratory tract infections have been demonstrated to diminish when vitamin C supplements are used, according to research.
8. You’re an Older Adult
Along with increased need for specific vitamins and minerals as you age, older folks may also have trouble acquiring enough nutrition due to decreased appetite. While it is ideal to obtain nutrients from food, you should consult a healthcare professional to see if a supplement is appropriate for you.
The effectiveness with which the skin absorbs vitamin D declines with age. Also, older people might get less sunlight. To maintain bone and immunological function, a vitamin D supplement may be required.