Vitamin and mineral supplements can have many benefits. They can help increase energy and focus, reduce feelings of anxiety, promote better bowel movements. However, they are not magic pills, and if you’re relying on supplements for your health without factoring in other areas, you may need to think again.
It’s important to understand the limitations of using supplements alone for better health, and know the things supplements won’t do before relying on them for major change. To help you better understand, I’ve laid out a few ground rules.
1. … replace whole foods
The heart of healthy living starts with real foods, not with how many supplements you take. If you continue to eat fast food on a regular basis, or skip out on essential vitamins found in so many fruits and veggies, your supplement won’t do much.
When you consume whole, real food, like an apple, or some spinach, you get a variety of vitamins and minerals that all work together to promote better overall health. They also contain nutrients to help you better absorb those vitamins and minerals.
So, if you take a greens powder or a multivitamin to off-set your poor diet, think again.
2. … manage pain instantly
I wish there was an all-natural miracle supplement that could help people manage pain in an instant. However, nature doesn’t exactly work that way.
There are natural supplements that you can take on a regular basis that can help with long-term pain management, however don’t expect complete eradication. A variety of homeopathics can help (speak with a trained professional, not Dr. Google, for what will work best for you), magnesium glycinate, glucosamine, turmeric, and Omega-3 fatty acids are all commonly used long-term for pain management.
3. … replace rest
Sleep and adequate rest are key to proper brain function, overall health, stress management and mood. Yet, we live in a sleep-deprived society. We choose supplements to help us function (think caffeine pills and greens powders), but don’t look at the root cause.
Lack of sleep and rest can also deplete certain vitamins and minerals in our body, meaning the ones we take in an attempt to combat fatigue aren’t actually working. In the case of some supplements that we take to combat fatigue, we’re actually doing ourselves a disservice (i.e. caffeine).
4. … help you lose weight instantly (and keep it off)
Detoxes, teas, green coffee beans, etc. For the most part, we may see some immediate weight loss from certain supplements - but this is usually from water weight, not actual fat reduction. Trying quick-fix supplements can lead us to a roller-coaster diet effect.
Pairing proper supplements (like chromium and b-vitamins), alongside diet changes, proper exercise, adequate sleep, dealing with any digestive issues, and hormonal balancing, is key to long-term weight loss.
5. … help you to live longer
And we’ve basically come full-circle here. No supplement will help you to live longer if you don’t get adequate sleep, rest and eat whole foods.
Certain supplements can be included for the maintenance of good health, like antioxidants, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. However, it can also be helpful to have genetic testing done to ensure you are eating properly and supplementing adequately for your genes.
Generally, supplements can be part of an overall healthy lifestyle, but don’t expect them to alter your life without first tackling the above.