There’s no doubt: mineral supplements can help fill in nutritional gaps and help you reach your fitness goals. However, how you use supplements is just as important as which supplements you use.
If you want the best results, you’ll need to follow a few rules. Making good choices from the beginning can help you avoid putting your health at risk. And yes, mineral supplements can pose certain health risks.
Here’s what you need to know:
Benefits of Mineral Supplements
Did you know the mineral supplement industry pulls tens of billions of dollars in annual sales? There’s a good reason for this: health-conscious people recognize its worth.
Mineral supplements give your body the minerals it lacks from your diet. This is especially beneficial for people who follow strict or limited diets, such as vegan or gluten-free.
For example, someone on a vegan diet may get calcium from eating leafy greens. However, they end up missing out on other sources like cheese, milk, or yogurt.
In this case, a vegan dieter may consider a calcium supplement to ensure they’re filling their bodies with the right nutrition.
In addition, some supplements can help absorb other nutrients. For example, taking a Vitamin C supplement can help you get more iron from your iron-rich foods or iron supplement.
Some vitamins, such as A, D, or K, are better absorbed when you take them with a meal that contains fat. However, it’s been suggested that taking large doses of fat-soluble vitamins often leads to competition. This can decrease the absorption of these vitamins.
If you want to gain the full nutritional benefits from your supplements, you need to understand how they work. In addition, find out what other supplements you need to make them work.
Your best bet is to seek the advice of your doctor. He or she can help you craft a safe supplement strategy.
There are seemingly infinite workout supplements and rich minerals on the market. Each one touts attractive benefits, like building muscle or losing weight faster.
Exercise requires many resources from your body. Your diet may not fully replenish what your body uses during your workouts. This is why many athletes and bodybuilders rely on some form of supplement.
Beware though: workout and weight loss supplements should not be considered a substitute for a good diet. Taking a weight loss supplement does not give you the green light to eat whatever grease-filled foods you crave.
You should rely on good nutrition to give your body what it needs. Then, use supplements as secondary insurance to pick up the slack.
Buyer Beware: All Supplements Come With a Risk
True, mineral supplements have their value, but that doesn’t mean every supplement on the market is safe.
For starters, you could wind up giving your body more of a certain mineral than its needs. Trace minerals (such as zinc or chromium), become toxic at high levels. This could lead to severe health problems.
Some supplements can affect how your body absorbs medications, which can alter its potency. For example, things like birth control pills and antidepressants can be less effective when taken with an herbal supplement, like St. John’s Wort.
Alarmingly, the FDA and other government authorities do not effectively regulate the supplement industry. This means you can’t be completely sure about what’s hiding in your supplement.
Also, be wary of supplements loaded with high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated vegetable oil. True, these ingredients are commonly found in other foods. However, that doesn’t mean they’re good for you.
Their negative impact on your diet could outweigh any benefits you’d get from the supplement.
Companies list their ingredients on their packaging, but it can sometimes seem like you need a chemistry degree to understand them. Do your health a favor and understand the ingredients on the label. This way, you can make sure they won’t send your goals into an unexpected tailspin.
Finding the Right Supplements for Your Health Needs
Mineral supplements have been marketed as ways to lose weight, build muscle, and achieve an all-around higher level of health. Good news: they can do all of these things. Bad news: they work only if the user truly needs supplements.
Change Your Lifestyle First
Try making simple lifestyle changes before you start a supplement. Things like poor sleep habits, zero exercise, or a junk-filled diet can lead to a variety of health issues. These things will never be solved by a supplement anyway.
You need to target the root of the problem if you want to see a change.
Rely on Supplements Last
If you find you’re still struggling to reach your health goals, talk to your doctor about the various supplements available. He or she can ask help determine what your body is lacking and what you need to include in your regimen.
Once you know which supplements your body needs, make sure you choose those that contain no more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). This is especially crucial for fat-soluble vitamins and minerals because they are more easily stored in the body and can build to dangerous levels.
Also, look for supplements that boast the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal. This seal designates that the supplement has been tested and verified for the number of minerals indicated on the label.
Finally, check for other ingredients to ensure your dietary needs align. Some supplements might contain eggs, gelatin, or wheat. If your diet doesn’t allow for any of these things, or if you have allergy concerns, look for a supplement that doesn’t use these ingredients.
Bottom Line: Should You Take Supplements?
There is no right or wrong answer when deciding if supplements are right for you. Every person’s health needs are unique. You should carefully consider what your body truly needs before taking mineral supplements.
If you’ve made lifestyle adjustments and still aren’t getting the results you expect, consult your doctor about potential supplements. Remember, supplements will only solve your health problems if they are the right answer.