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Are supplements really worth it?

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You’ve probably been told about numerous supplements and how they can be used to benefit your health. There are some nutrition supplements with high quality evidence to support their use in specific circumstances. However, there are also many supplements on the market which have minimal evidence to support their use, as well as some which may cause harm if used incorrectly. Read on to find out more about the potential benefits and risks of supplements, and if they are all they’re made out to be.

What are the benefits?

The potential benefits of nutrition supplements will vary depending on factors such as: the type and form of the supplement, individual requirements, and current dietary intake. Additionally, different supplements have varying levels of evidence supporting their use. They’re definitely not suited to a one-size-fits-all approach. Supplements can be beneficial when:

  • Your nutrient requirements are increased and you are having difficulty consuming enough through your diet
  • You are following a dietary pattern which makes it more challenging to meet your requirements through food alone
  • You have already optimised your diet quality and are seeking further benefits from supplementation to support general health and/or performance.


What are the risks?

Despite popular belief, there are potential risks of taking nutrition supplements, particularly if this is done without the guidance of a healthcare professional. Potential risks include:

  • Side-effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea if consumed in the wrong form or dosage
  • Exceeding the recommended upper limit, which may lead to short and/or long-term complications
  • Supplements can be expensive and may not provide any benefits


So, which supplements should I be taking?

You’re not alone if you’re still wondering what supplements you should be taking. When it comes to supplementation, it should be just that, an extra element used to enhance or complete your diet. We recommend aiming to get all of our nutrients through food first, followed by the inclusion of supplementation as required.

Some examples of where supplementation may be beneficial include: having difficulty meeting your iron, or vitamin B12 requirements through food alone if you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet. Or maybe, you are hoping to optimise your sporting performance with nutrients which are difficult to consume through food alone such as creatine.

The optimal supplement regime will vary greatly between individuals based on their dietary intake, medical conditions, nutrient deficiencies, food preferences and goals. We always recommend speaking to your doctor and/or dietitian to develop a personalised supplement regime that’s right for you.

Call Life First to meet with a health coach or dietitian - 1300 030 707. 


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