Supplements are meant to do exactly what their title implies. The idea behind supplements, which include necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for a healthy body, is to add them to an already healthy diet. Some patients believe that a supplement can be a magic bullet to good health, but this is not true at all. Supplements should be used in addition to an already healthy lifestyle to provide additional nutrients that the body is not currently getting from natural food sources.

However, once a healthy diet is established, there are a wide variety of supplements that can be taken to help improve the health of a patient who may be dealing with chronic pain issues or other experiences that affect their overall wellness. There are some supplements that may even enhance your exercise regimen and increase your healthy responses. It is important, though, to understand the benefits and risks of using supplements before making a decision.

Cautions of using supplements

Dietary supplements can be very helpful if they are used correctly. Since there are so many different kinds on the market, it is nearly impossible to list all of the cautions since each supplement will have a different compound and, thus, different effects on the body.

There are some things you should do before considering dietary supplements including:

  • Talk to your doctor before taking anything: You want to let your doctor know what you plan on taking and discuss how this will affect you long-term. There may be concerns about taking certain supplements with certain medications. They can also affect upcoming surgeries. Some supplements can also exacerbate conditions that you already have and, without knowing the possible effects, you could cause more damage.
  • Follow the instructions on the label: Companies that produce supplements are required to provide information for their safe use. Do not take too much of the supplement regardless of how it makes you feel. Also, if you have any adverse side effects stop taking the supplement immediately. Talk to your doctor and contact the manufacturer to let them know what happened.
  • Natural is not a synonym for safe: Herbs and other compounds are not always safe for every person. You may have an allergy that you’re unaware of or some of the ingredients in the supplement may affect some conditions adversely. Do not assume that a natural supplement is safe or take it without consulting a doctor first.

Once you speak with your doctor about the supplements you would like to use, you can start using them as directed.

Helpful supplements for exercising

Certain herbs, minerals, or vitamins can enhance your body’s ability to exercise. They can boost your energy and help you get and stay healthier. Here are some supplements you can consider adding to aid in your exercise routine.

  • Iron: Many people are deficient in this mineral, especially women. However, having the right amount of iron can stave off fatigue and exhaustion. According to a study by the University of Melbourne in Australia, women who take iron supplements can exercise harder and with less effort than women who do not.
  • Protein: A common supplement for body builders, protein can help build muscle if it is taken correctly. However, just taking protein won’t do any good if you aren’t willing to back it up with weight training. In fact, taking the wrong amount of protein can be damaging. Add a protein powder to a shake or juice and drink it before and during your workout to feed your muscles.
  • Amino acids: Protein is converted to amino acids as it is metabolized by your body. However, there are two classifications of amino acids. Some are not produced by your body but can only be obtained by digesting the right kinds of foods. If you aren’t getting enough amino acids with your diet, you may want to add some supplements to help your workout.

Supplements to avoid

New science has been released that indicates a popular supplement for those who work out regularly may not be as helpful to exercise as original believed. This and other supplements to avoid include:

  • Antioxidants: While it seems like this would be great for exercise routines including aerobics, recent studies have proven that taking additional antioxidants doesn’t provide any benefits when it comes to exercise and can ultimately affect the positive results of the workout.
  • Epinephrine: This hormone has often been considered a boost for those who lift weights but it can be dangerous if taken incorrectly. Epinephrine, whether or not it is helpful for workouts, also counteracts the effects of insulin on the body. This can prove detrimental for people who have diabetes and can create problems for those who don’t.
  • Weight loss supplements of any kind: There are many companies that promote weight loss supplements that seem like they could be a magic bullet for anyone interested in shedding a few pounds. It is incredibly important to note that the only healthy way to lose weight is to adopt better eating habits and exercise routines. Never rely on miracle ingredients to help you lose weight or exercise better. Simply add the supplements that will augment your current healthy diet and work hard.

Have you had any experience using supplements to enhance your exercise routine? What were the results?

Image by EvelynGiggles via Flickr

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