All supplements are equal right?
Firstly, to define what a supplement is: ‘A supplement is intended to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities. Supplements as generally understood include vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids, among other substances.’
They are called “supplements” for a reason – in general, they are meant as an addition to your diet. They are not meant to replace meals or nutrients that you can get from whole foods or healthy sources.
Supplements can include: vitamins, minerals, herbal tablets or powders, probiotics, pre-workouts, intra-workouts and post-workouts.
From an exercise perspective, you can benefit from supplementation in a number of ways:
- Ensuring that you are getting the required amount of nutrients and minerals for optimal health and wellness, immunity, digestive issues, skin issues, menstrual issues, mental health.
- Supplementation can also help with performance and ensuring that you are fuelling your body with what it needs to recover faster and therefore train harder and get results.
- Supplementation can help with muscles soreness.
- Supplementation can help with recovery from injury or recovery from surgeries (if required ie. Shoulder surgery)
- Supplementation can help with sugar cravings.
- Supplementation can also help with stress. I am a huge believer in training hard, however exercise is still a form of stress on the body and so it is essential that you support your nervous system so that you recover well and can train hard and consistently and therefore get the results that you want.
As a naturopath, I often get asked, ‘well, aren’t all supplements equal? I just bought my magnesium from the supermarket, it was cheaper there than what I pay at a health food store.’.
The answer, is No. Not all supplements are equal.
I’ll give you an example. Magnesium is involved in over 300 essential metabolic reactions including energy production, synthesis of essential molecules including DNA, the antioxidant glutathione, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids. It plays a structural role in bone, cell membranes and chromosomes. It has a role in the conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm.
Magnesium can help with cramps, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), sugar cravings, headaches. It can help aid a restful sleep, help improve memory and help with depression, help with muscle development, decreases inflammation, lower cortisol, treat obesity & help with a lean body composition.
Magnesium can come in many different forms. Some of the forms are better absorbed than others. When purchasing magnesium, the type to look for is an amino acid chelate form, (also called glycinate). This form is the most bioavailable in the body. When you purchase from supermarkets, often (not all the time), the supplements are of less quality and they are cheaper because you are getting a less bioavailable, poorer quality supplement. Using magnesium as the example, the poorer quality forms are either oxide or phosphate and just aren’t absorbed as well in the body, so essentially you are paying less for a lesser product.
My recommendation, when choosing supplements is to buy them from a health food shop or get them directly from a practitioner (naturopath or nutritionist). Speak to the health food staff, they are often very knowledgeable about the products and can recommend the best products, taking into consideration price, value for money and effectiveness of the product.
The take-home message is that: “You get what you pay for.”
If you want high quality supplements that do what they say they are going to do, then you need to purchase from a reputable health food store or get advice directly from a practitioner. When choosing your supplements, get a professional recommendation, as taking the right supplements that are the most bioavailable will produce more results than a cheaper, poor quality supplement will.
I am available for consultations, including supplementation recommendations at Doctor Earth clinic Bondi Junction, Tuesdays and Thursdays or locally, (café, your house etc.) by appointment. 0401 366 796. email@example.com