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Do You Need Supplements To Get Results?


Kiwis spend more than a billion dollars a year on vitamin supplements; add nutrition supplements to that total and it's almost mind boggling what we're spending in pursuit of health! But do we really need supplements to get results with our health and fitness?

Answer: It depends

Nutrient deficiencies are usually a result of a poor overall diet, unbalanced diet or from reducing calories (i.e. dieting and restrictive eating).

If it's a specific vitamin or mineral you're thinking of supplementing, most of us can get what we need from a diet full of a wide range of fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, nuts and lean protein.

However, if we are having issues absorbing nutrients from the food we're eating for whatever reason (such as due to certain medications, medical conditions or gut health) or have a specific health issue, we may not be able to eat enough of the required foods to make up that deficiency.

Should I use supplements?

A good starting point for general nutrition supplements such as protein powder or greens powder is to take down a food diary for several days.

Check this against your starting point base of 3-4 balanced meals a day with standard portion sizes (for each meal a cupped handful of carbs, a palm of protein, a thumb of healthy fats, a fist of veges), then you can start to see if you're running low in any key areas. Now you can choose whether to bump up those areas of deficiency with real wholefoods - which is typically preferable - or a supplement.

Sometimes a protein supplement could be a good solution if you need more protein in your diet but don't want to add extra carbohydrates or fats that might come with a full meal.

If you suspect a particular vitamin or mineral deficiency you may be able to ask your doctor to test for it, otherwise it's a good idea to consult a nutritionist, naturopath or similar professional. In some cases unnecessary supplementation can actually be a bad thing and result in adverse effects, so it's best not to take supplements unless you know you need to (and especially not in large doses).

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