Supplements: Are They Worth the Money?

Story provided by TSET Healthy Living Program Serving Payne County

Most of us browse the internet quite frequently. Odds are you’ve come across countless promotional ads or pictures of popular celebrities talking about the magic of pills or powders that work wonders for your health. While there are some health supplements out there that really can benefit you greatly, there are also plenty of false promises when it comes to supplements in the health industry today. So, what are the good supplements? What are the bad? 

Basically, every aspect of human health has a supplement related directly to it: clearer skin, stronger hair, bigger muscles, less fat, and the list goes on and on. Dietary supplements can play a huge role in the improvement of our overall health and wellbeing. Over the course of history, we have learned through testing and research exactly what works for improving our health and the ways in which this happens. The supplement world is huge, but there are a few popular outliers that are worth focusing on: protein, vitamin D, omega-3 fish oil, and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). For the sake of simplicity, we’ll just talk about these four big-name supplements so you will know all you need to know to help you make informed decisions on the supplements on which you spend your money. 

First, let’s talk about protein. Protein has been deemed the “king of nutrients”, and there’s good reason for that. Information from recent market research conducted by Statista showed that 2 in 5 (about 46%) Americans say they regularly consume protein drink products or shakes. That’s nearly half of the US population, so it’s easy to see why protein is such a big deal. Now you may be wondering what exactly is so good about consuming protein? That’s a big list unto itself, but to sum it up short and sweet – protein is used to build and repair tissues in your body. It’s one of the main components of how our body functions, and while most people get adequate amounts from their diet alone, it wouldn’t hurt to supplement the intake of protein. If you’re looking to buy a protein supplement, try Whey Isolate protein powder in the flavor of your choice. The one thing you should look out for is “whey concentrate” in the ingredient list. The concentrate is just a lower quality blend of protein compared to whey isolate. 

Next is vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a significant role in the regulation and distribution of calcium throughout our bodies. A great way for you to naturally get vitamin D doesn’t actually include eating or drinking anything. To get a good dose of vitamin D, you simply need to go outside! Sunlight gives us a good amount of vitamin D when we are in it, and that’s arguably our number 1 source of the vitamin. However, some of us may not go outside very often due to our jobs or lifestyles so what can you do to increase your vitamin D intake if you stay in the shade all day? Consuming fatty fish and seafood is a good route to take as well as eating whole eggs. It’s easy enough to get it from food, but this article is about supplements. That begs the question, “should I buy a vitamin D supplement?” The answer is probably. Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble micronutrient, and it is statistically noted that deficiencies have been increasing recently; therefore, supplementing with vitamin D can do more good than bad. Furthermore, when it comes right down to it, a vitamin D supplement really can’t do any bad. This supplement can be found just about anywhere, and the brand doesn’t necessarily matter. So, unless you spend a lot of time in the sun, just grab a bottle from your nearest drug store. 

The third supplement on the list is fish oil. This supplement is strongly recommended due to the sheer fact that our bodies cannot naturally produce it. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are vital to having a healthy heart and brain, and many people do not get enough of them. The most important benefit of supplementing with fish oil is that it can help prevent heart disease. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US and supplementing with fish oil can help protect you from becoming part of that statistic. From blood pressure to cholesterol levels, fish oil helps improve it all. If there’s one supplement you’re willing to try after reading this article, fish oil is a fantastic choice!

Last on the list are branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs for short. BCAAs are a group of 3 essential amino acids. That means they cannot be produced by our bodies, so we need to get them from the foods we eat. The main things that BCAAs do for our bodies are they help decrease muscle tiredness, alleviate soreness, and they can help us build muscle and lose weight as well. BCAA supplements are plentiful, and all of them are likely of good quality. A little self-research wouldn’t hurt, but if you feel as if you could benefit from a BCAA supplement, definitely go for it! 

That’s the four top supplements we feel can be very important to your health. Regardless of your current lifestyle situation, you can probably benefit from any or all of these supplements. Do a little research and talk to your personal healthcare provider to determine what’s right for you. Health supplements have a lot to offer; just make sure you’re choosing the right ones!

Editor’s Note:  This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.