What, exactly, are supplements?
There is a steady flow of miscommunication in the market regarding what supplements really are. Some people are under the impression that they are a group of steroids or steroid-like substances that gym buffs use to get… well, buffer. On the other hand, some know what they really are, but are under the impression that supplements can totally replace your normal diet.
In reality, they are essential nutrients that your body needs. Supplements come from either natural sources, or are synthesized chemically and developed in the form of pills, powder or liquid that you take along with your regular diet in order to give your body a nutrition boost.
Do women need supplements?
If you push out the image of a muscular body staring at you from your gym mirror for one second, you will be able to grasp the concept that supplements are actually dietary aids that are meant to help you maintain your health. And last we checked, health was something that was free of gender.
The real question is, do all women need supplements? It really depends on their health needs. The best way to find out is by talking to a nutritionist. But, in general, it is advisable for women to get some sort of a supplement plan after 30 since a person’s health, especially that of a woman, needs more attention post that.
Are myths regarding supplements stopping you?
The controversy around supplements is rooted in a number of myths plaguing the idea of taking supplements. It’s even more prevalent when it comes to women. So, let’s find out some of the most common beliefs around supplements that are very far from the truth and see if any of these are stopping you from considering them as a part of your diet.
#Myth: Supplements are not for women.
Fact: Supplements are meant to help you alleviate certain health issues. They are gender-neutral in nature. There is nothing called a female-only or male-only supplement. Take protein for instance. Science says that if you’d like to lose weight and build muscle, the easiest way to do so is by eating more protein as it fills you up for longer, and provides amino acids for muscle mass. Now, this holds true for both men and women. So, don’t be fooled by marketing gimmicks of the neighborhood aunty’s taunts, and listen to your doctor or a certified nutritionist instead.
What you do need to know is that the dosage of the same supplement can differ between men and women, and can also change by age, exercise capacity, and other factors. So, work that into your plan.
#Myth: You don’t need supplements if you eat a balanced diet.
Fact: We don’t mean to scare you, but no! While each one of us should strive to eat healthy regardless of gender, it is a proven fact that our body’s digestive and absorptive capabilities change over time. Moreover, even if you are eating healthy but are afflicted with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or a similar gut issue, your body will not be able to absorb nutrients in the same way as others might.
Vitamin supplements are the easiest way to boost your health and immunity, and taking one should not be equal to climbing Mount Everest. Nor should it be a judgment of your eating habits.
#Myth: Supplements = muscle.
Fact: It is not necessary that only bodybuilders and people who do a lot of weight training should have supplements. If you’re a woman looking to lose weight, for instance, your trainer might ask you to increase your protein intake. This is simply because protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, thus tricking your body into feeling fuller for longer and eating less. The end result is that you eat fewer calories.
Now you can try to increase your intake of protein by drinking liters of ‘dal’ every day, or you can have a protein shake instead. The choice is yours. The important thing is to break out of that traditional mode of looking at supplement use and understand the science of how it affects your body.
#Myth: All supplements are equal.
Fact: Dietary supplements can come in various forms like pills, powders, or liquids. Not all of these are the same. For instance, vitamin D can be bought in the D2 as well as the D3 form. To understand how they differ and which is better for your body, it is necessary to consult a doctor and understand what your underlying issues are.
Moreover, if you find yourself stuck in the synthetic versus natural debate, then consider the fact that not everything that’s touted to be ‘natural’ is pure. It can have side effects as well, or it may interfere with some other medicine you might be taking. So, choose well and do not pick one brand over the other without doing some research.
#Myth: Women should only buy supplements labeled ‘for women’.
Fact: Ummmm…. No. Do you want extra fiber in your diet? Find a good brand in that world for your body. The only reason for a product to be a part of your diet should be that it’s recommended by a certified nutritionist or your doctor. In fact, research has shown that multivitamins are not as effective as we have been taught to believe. So instead of just choosing something because it has been labeled and marketed a certain way, choose supplements that your body actually needs.
Nothing beats the goodness of a healthy, balanced diet. The first step to being healthy is to eat right, and then use supplements to cover up for any deficiencies you might have. Supplements are in no way a replacement for a good diet, and neither are they a permanent fixture in your life. You cannot live on protein drinks alone, can you?
So, go ahead and use them. But remember to use only what you need and exercise moderation. Read up on the brands you use, understand the science, and do remember to consult a certified practitioner before making something a part of your diet.