- Food (even the ‘natural’, ‘whole’, ‘organic’) is not of the same quality as it was years ago. Do you think our ancestors took Magnesium or B group vitamins? No, because their diets were rich in nutrients. They ate off the land, their produce was natural. These days our land is covered in slurry, our meat is injected with foreign bodies and our fish is farmed. Unfortunately, our food is just not as nutritious. So even if we adhere to a healthy, balanced diet, we may still be lacking in nutrients
2. Lifestyle can have an impact on whether you need supplements. I don’t just mean you are too busy to eat so you decide to take supplements instead. Supplements are exactly that, they should supplement a diet, not replace it. An athlete may require more calcium, or they may need a dose of zinc to boost immune function. Young females are more at risk of iron deficiency anaemia and may require an iron supplement. Vegans/ Vegetarians may not get enough protein in their diet and may chose to take a protein supplement. Pregnant women are advised to supplement with folic acid to help with foetal development.
3. Lack of availability may be another reason why people supplement. In Ireland, we do not get much sunshine. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. In 2013, over 40% of adults had suboptimal levels of Vitamin D. Vit D’s bioavailability from foods is not the same as sunlight. Therefore, we may need to take a supplement. The HSE also recommends that all infants from birth to 12 months, whether breastfed or formula fed be given a daily supplement of 5µg Vitamin D. People who chose a vegan lifestyle may also have to supplement with Vitamin B12 as there are little to no natural foods containing B12 in a vegan diet. They may find foods fortified with Vitamin B12, otherwise they must supplement.
And sometimes we just self prescribe
Just because we hit the gym 3 times a week does not mean we need a whey protein supplement. You don’t need to be guzzling BCAAs intra workout. And you certainly don’t need to take a concoction of supplements just because your favourite insta famous hun takes them :D Self prescription is not the right option. If you are unsure, speak to a qualified professional.
The Sports Nutrition industry has boomed in recent years. Protein supplements can be in the form of powders, tablets, shakes or bars. Every second person seems to be taking protein supplements, but do we really need them?
Most people will get enough protein in their diet and probably don’t need a supplement. But if you are training frequently and find it hard to recover you may benefit from a supplement. Similarly, if you follow a low protein diet, it may be of advantage of you to take a supplement. Personally, I like adding protein powders to breakfasts, smoothies and treats to boost protein content. I rarely take it as a post workout shake.
- They are quickly absorbed
- Nice flavours can curb sweet cravings
- Can be expensive
- Often unnecessary. Excess protein will be excreted