Supplements: what do they offer?

…and what to do before you reach for them

Whether they’re in your medicine cabinet at home, or you use them for an extra boost before a workout, supplements have long been marketed to improve our health and wellbeing.

Supplement recommendations are now found everywhere, especially through adverts and social media influencers, and it can be hard to know which supplements – if any – are right for you.

In a nutshell, supplements are used to add to or enhance nutrients, and to maintain or boost overall health. In addition to vitamins, supplements can contain minerals, herbs, botanicals, stimulants, amino acids, and many other ingredients.

Many adults and children don’t actually need to take supplements, we can fuel ourselves by getting vitamins and minerals from a healthy, balanced diet and keeping hydrated rather than relying on supplements. This means consuming a variety of foods in the appropriate proportions from the 5 main food groups (carbohydrates, protein, dairy, fruit & vegetables, fats & sugars) to get a wide range of nutrients. Maintaining good hydration is also key, as staying hydrated helps aid the absorption of nutrients.

Similarly to supplements that provide nutrients, there are also supplements that aim to boost energy. But when thinking of ways to feel more energised, stress levels and sleeping habits should be looked at first before leaning towards supplements to do the job.

Having better sleeping habits (aim for 7+ hours a night!) naturally improves stress levels in turn. You can’t out-supplement an unhealthy, imbalanced diet by taking them, and they shouldn’t be a replacement for what proper rest and recovery can provide you.

On the other hand, supplements can be useful for people with either restricted diets or allergies. If you choose to take supplements, whether that’s in the form of capsules, gummies, powders, or drinks, it should be done safely and smartly.

Here are some of our tips:
  • Your body best absorbs some vitamins from supplements with food, so you may want to take a supplement when having a meal or a snack
  • Some essential nutrients within supplements can interfere with many common medications, ensure you ask a healthcare professional how best to time taking the two. This is especially important if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, or about to have surgery
  • Do not exceed the suggested daily intake
  • Pre-workout supplements typically contain caffeine. As caffeine is a stimulant, avoid taking too many of these to avoid caffeine jitters!
  • Keep supplements out of the sight and reach of children
Two Column Supplements

Reading about supplements online and the marketing of them is something to be wary of in addition. Many are marketed as being great for all fitness goals or the loaded with essential vitamins yet have limited scientific evidence to support the success of the claims. There’s also no one-size-fits-all supplement, so choosing one may seem overwhelming.

With this in mind, we advise ensuring that you address the common factors we’ve mentioned above, such as diet, hydration, sleep, and stress, before reaching for supplements.

Sources: Do I need vitamin supplements? (NHS) | Overview – Vitamins and minerals (NHS) | Eating a balanced diet (NHS) | Water, drinks and hydration (NHS) | Are supplements safe and do they work? (BBC) | What Is Pre-Workout and Should You Be Using It? (Men’s Health) | How many hours of sleep are enough for good health? (Mayo Clinic) | 7 ways to reduce stress and keep blood pressure down (Harvard Health Publishing) | Supplement Smarts: Best Ways to Take Different Vitamins (WebMD)

Read more blogs

Take a look at all the blogs we have for you to enjoy

Read more