Complete Supplements Guide:  All you need to know about taking supplements

6th February 2024

In our lives, we wear many hats, and each hat is filled with numerous responsibilities. As we run from one responsibility to the other, it can be difficult to meet every single dietary requirement, even if we try and maintain a balanced diet and regular exercise. Here’s where supplements come in. 

If you’re not sure what supplements are or whether you should take them, our complete supplements guide takes you on a journey towards a healthier body and mind. We provide all the information you need to make an informed decision on which supplements to take to achieve your health goals.

Why do I need supplements?

While a balanced diet is undoubtedly crucial, supplements can fill in the gaps by providing a convenient and effective way to ensure our bodies receive the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need but do not get due to a number of reasons. So why are we not taking the nutrients we need?

Fast-paced living

It’s been over a century since supplements first became popular, just when the pace of life changed once and for good, and prepackaged food became our number one nutritional choice.

Today, there are countless ways to eat a full meal in under three minutes, such as breakfast bars and frozen dinners, so as not to waste a minute of our activities. Unfortunately, these quick and easy options lack nutritional value and may actually harm our well-being, energy, and mental health.

Food has lots its nutrients

In the modern day, studies have revealed that produce grown today is less nutritionally dense than produce grown in the past due to processing and soil conditions.

For instance, according to a 2004 US study important nutrients in garden crops were found to be up to 38% lower than they were in the middle of the 20th Century. 

Another example comes from a study carried out in the US and also by the UK Food Standards Agency, which indicated that magnesium levels in foods are declining alarmingly. That is to say, the oranges our grandparents ate probably contained more nutrients than the oranges we eat today. 

Unique nutritional needs

It’s not just that we eat less nutritious food than our ancestors did. Each one of us has unique needs, conditions, or stages in life, and there is an abundance of different supplements to cater for all those different requirements.

Probiotics, for example, can help balance gut bacteria during and after antibiotic treatment, while a Vitamin C supplement can help us refuel when we feel tired and can’t go on with the day’s tasks.

Finally, nutritional requirements change as we age, as our bodies change how they process food and require more nutritional support. People over 50 may need more vitamins and minerals than younger adults do. 

So, in summary, supplements were created to “supplement” the diet and help us increase the daily consumption of specific nutrients we cannot through our everyday meals to improve our health and well-being. If you have ever taken probiotics for your gut health, fish oil for your brain health, melatonin to sleep, or just a vitamin C pill to gain energy, then you have taken supplements.

What types of supplements are there?

First of all, let’s define what a supplement actually is. A dietary supplement can fall into a variety of different categories, including (but not limited to):

  • Vitamins (multivitamins, vitamin D, B-complex vitamins)
  • Minerals (zinc, iron)
  • Botanicals/herbal supplements (turmeric, St. John’s wort)
  • Amino acids (tryptophan, glutamine)
  • Probiotics 
  • Other nutrients (protein powders)

Supplements come in the form of a single tablet, capsule, powder or even a gummy and can contain both natural and synthetic ingredients. 

How do I choose the right supplements for me?

supplements in the form of pills

You should consult a healthcare professional to guide you before taking supplements. If you are feeling you need more energy, support your natural sleep patterns, or have just begun a new diet and think that you need support, it’s always best to book an appointment to discuss your dietary needs. 

Physical symptoms of nutritional deficiencies range from hair loss to constipation, so it can be difficult to diagnose a deficiency from these alone. A professional can assess your condition and guide you on whether you need supplements, which ones you should take, or whether you need a different treatment. 

What should I look for in a supplement in regard to ingredients and quality? 

The quality of supplements can vary. The government has standards for dietary supplements, but it does not regulate them the same way it regulates drugs. Make sure to always read the label of the product, especially if you have an allergy, and choose products that are third-party certified. 

Whenever you buy a supplement, be sure to watch out for claims that make bold statements – for example, if the supplement claims to help you build muscle or burn fat quickly, it might not be the case, as there are no magic formulas. So, only look for supplements from a reputable website, and be extra cautious when it comes to promises, no matter how appealing they may be.

How do I know if supplements are working?

supplements in the form of pills

The time it takes for a supplement to work depends on the type and dosage of the supplement and how deficient you are before taking it. Sometimes, it will only take a few minutes or hours to feel better. 

To determine if supplements work, you should get a blood test done to check your body’s levels of vitamins and minerals. You should also be able to tell if your supplement is working by whether any physical signs of nutrient deficiencies have disappeared.

Are there any risks of taking supplements?

A dietary supplement may contain ingredients that can have strong effects on the body, so it is important to be aware of the possibility of side effects and adverse reactions. You may experience problems if you:

  • Overdose on some supplements
  • Combine supplements
  • Take supplements instead of medications
  • Take the wrong supplements

It is possible for adverse events to range from less serious to life-threatening, and these can include rash, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, severe and persistent vomiting or diarrhoea, and severe joint pain.

This is why it’s important to check with a healthcare expert to determine whether you need supplements and ensure there are no potential interactions with your medications. For example, Vitamin K can reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners, while Gingko Biloba can increase blood thinning, and herbal supplements such as comfrey can damage your liver.

Remember, do not take a supplement’s claims from a celebrity or influencer at face value.  Daily, we are bombarded with messages about a variety of products, including dietary supplements. Tempting as it may be, it’s always best to do your research and check with your healthcare provider.

Book a consultation with us

We hope you enjoyed our comprehensive supplements guide. At eternalbeing, our team of experts is more than happy to guide you on the best supplements for your individual needs. Book your consultation now and let us help you take control of your health. From dietary supplements to innovative patches and advanced IV injections,  we can answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to get started.