What is a Supplement?

A supplement is a substance you eat or drink.  There is a wide variety of supplements including vitamins, minerals, herbs and amino acids.  In addition, supplements come in pill, capsule, tablet, liquid or powder form.  These substances are meant to add to the diet and should not be substitute any food.  You should also eat a variety of foods as well.

Benefits Of Supplements

Taking certain supplements can help assure to you get a sufficient amount of essential nutrients. They are not intended to treat diseases, but can fill holes in your diet.  Supplements are beneficial to pregnant women, people on restricted diets, people with diseases to help with food gaps and anyone on a low-calorie diet.

What Supplements Should I Take?

To answer this question, you need to examine your diet.  There are some supplements that are more beneficial for weight or fitness goals, but there are some that are needed to fill nutrient gaps in your diet.

Two vitamin supplements everyone should consider are B12 and D.  B12 is found in fortified cereals, soymilk, and fortified meat.  Vitamin B12 keeps your nerves and red blood cells healthy. It handles the smooth functioning of several critical body processes.   Vitamin D is important to help you absorb calcium in the foods you eat.  The natural source is sunlight, which may be scarce at certain times of the year.

Supplements For Weight Loss

Looking for supplements for weight loss?  There isn’t a great deal of evidence backing up these claims, and the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements like food and medication.  Here are some common ingredients found in supplements and herbal remedies for weight loss:

  • Chitosan – This supplement is a sugar that comes from the hard outer layers of crustaceans. It is said to block the absorption of fats and cholesterol.
  • Chromium – This mineral enhances the action of insulin, which is critical to your metabolism. There are claims that this mineral can lower appetite, help burn more calories, cut body fat and increase muscle mass.
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) – This supplement contains chemicals found in fatty acids. There are claims it can help curb body fat and help a person stay full.
  • Glucomannan – This herb is made from the konjac plant. Glucomannan must be taken with at least 8 ounces of water.  It is supposed to help people lose weight by blocking the absorption of dietary fat.
  • Green Tea Extract – This supplement supposedly helps a person curb his or her appetite and raise calorie and fat metabolism.
  • Hoodia – This plant grows in the African desert. It is marketed to help with weight loss by serving as an appetite suppressant.
  • Bitter Orange – This tree is also native to Africa and also tropical Asia. Bitter orange contains synephrine, which supposedly works by raising the amount of calories burned.


Supplements For Energy

Need a jumpstart in the morning, beat the afternoon drag or give you a boost for an evening workout?  Some supplements can make a difference. The most common supplements people take for energy include:

  • Caffeine – Probably the most common energy booster. It gives your metabolism a boost to give you more physical and mental energy.  Some studies recommend getting caffeine naturally through tea or coffee versus supplements.
  • Guarana – This herb does contain caffeine. Some studies show it can help with a mental strain.  Be sure to watch other caffeine intact while taking this herb.
  • Ginseng – This herb may improve mood and energy. Be sure to check how much ginseng is included in a product as some contain a great deal of filler.  This herb can be rather expensive.
  • Vitamin B12 – This is a necessity for energy. If you already take a multi-vitamin, you probably get your daily dose.

Supplements For Runners

If you are a runner, your health is most likely very important to you, and you strive for a well-balanced diet.  Even the best eaters sometimes miss out on key nutrients.  Here are some supplements for runners, which may give your body a boost:

  • Calcium – This vitamin is essential for bone strength. You need to eat at least three servings of dairy a day to get the recommended daily value.  Try taking 1000 mg of calcium citrate or calcium carbonate daily.
  • Fish Oil – The omega-3 fatty acids if fish oil can help reduce muscle soreness and increase lean body mass. You need to eat at least two to three servings of fatty fish a week to get these omegas.  Try taking a supplement of 500 mg of DHA and EPA combined.
  • Iron – This mineral is essential in producing hemoglobin that carries oxygen to muscles. Low iron can cause fatigue and weakness.  High doses of iron can also be dangerous.  It is best to talk to your doctor to check the amounts of iron in your blood.  Iron is regularly paired with vitamin C foods to boost absorption.
  • Whey Protein – This comes from cow’s milk and is a rich source of all the amino acids muscles need. It can help build lean body mass and increase strength.  Try two tablespoons of whey protein and add to smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt.

bodybuilding supplements

What Supplements Should I Take to Gain Muscle And Weight

There are many supplements available for building lean muscles.  Some athletes respond differently to different supplements as all bodies are different.  Here are a few of the major supplements to consider:

  • Creatine – This is a natural substance that is around the skeletal muscle tissue.
  • Whey Protein – This popular supplement supplies the body with a large amount of protein to help accelerate the muscle-growing process.
  • Glutamine – This supplement is hyped to slow muscle-tissue breakdown during intensive exercise. This can improve strength level and increase endurance.

Are Supplements Safe?

For the most part yes, but dietary supplements may cause side effects, create allergic reactions or interact with prescription and nonprescription medicines.  There is no regulation of supplements.  Other than vitamins and minerals, the long-term effects of most dietary supplements are not known.

Remember it is always best to talk to your doctor before beginning a regular supplement regime. 

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