The Basics of Supplements - What You Need to Know

The Basics of Supplements – What You Need to Know

Our health should be the most important aspect of our lives. We should be doing everything in our power on a daily basis to ensure our body and minds are healthy. Our health plays a critical role not in just our longevity, but also in our quality of life.

People who are constantly sick or feeling ill will have limited mobility, limited energy, and a very bleak outlook on the future. In this sense, our physical health also affects our mental health. One thing we can do to improve our overall health is to make sure our bodies are receiving the proper types and amounts of vitamins and minerals it needs to function at its best. We can do this by eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and taking daily vitamin supplements.

What Are supplements?

A supplement is a dietary product that is intended to be ingested and contains a dietary ingredient which is meant to add value to or enhance a person’s diet. What constitutes a dietary ingredient can be one of or a combination of the following items:

  • a mineral
  • a vitamin
  • an amino acid
  • a botanical product or an herb
  • an extract, metabolite, or concentrate
  • or a dietary substances intended to supplement a diet to increase daily intake of said dietary substance

The purpose of a dietary supplement is to either increase the daily intake of a certain dietary substance or to supplement a person’s diet when they aren’t consuming, or can’t consume, the correct foods needed to provide their body with certain mandatory dietary substances.

Types of Supplements

Dietary supplements are available in almost every store and are produced in a multitude of forms. The reason dietary supplements come in varying forms is for ease of ingestion by people who have different ingestion needs and preferences.


The most common form of dietary supplements is a pill form. Two main advantages of dietary supplements in a pill form are that they are easy to carry with you and easy to ingest with no aftertaste. Just like with any other pill, dietary supplements in pill form do take time to be dissolved, digested, and absorbed into the blood stream.

Some forms of dietary supplement pills that you will find on today’s market include:

  • gel caps
  • softgels
  • capsules
  • tablets


The second most common form of dietary supplements that you will find on the market is powder. The main supplement powder you will find being consumed is protein powder. Protein supplement powders are designed specifically for those in the fitness or body building industry. While designed for this specific demographic, you will find that protein powders do offer benefits to others who are not into fitness or body building such as those looking to counteract muscle mass loss, those who are vegetarian, or those looking to lose weight.

Other dietary supplements are available in powder forms such as calcium, fiber, and vitamin C.


A new trend in the supplement world is liquid dietary supplements. Any vitamin, mineral, herb, or amino acid you can think of has a liquid form on the market. These liquid supplements boast a faster absorption rate and higher potency than pills or powders. Because they are more potent, it is easier to overdose so use them with caution and follow the instructions carefully.

Energy Bars

Energy bars are a dietary supplement that is often overlooked as an actual supplement, but per the definition of a dietary supplement, energy bars do fit the bill. They are produced to contain high volumes of necessary vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to supplement a meal, such as a breakfast bar, or to refuel your body during strenuous activities or intense workouts.

Reasons to Take Supplements

Dietary supplements can not only add value to your current diet, they can also fill in the gaps of nutrition that are left over from your meals for the day. Gaps in nutrition can cause a myriad of health issues ranging from mild to severe. These health issues will cause our quality of life to decrease over time.

In addition to improving our health, dietary supplements are highly beneficial to those looking to become more physically fit or those who are into serious body building. Supplements will allow you to increase your daily intake of the nutrients you need and control the amount you ingest.


Supplements can improve your overall health by providing:

  • an immune system boost. Certain supplements can be taken in large quantities on a frequent basis to help repair and strengthen your immune system. These types of supplements are popular for those suffering from immunodeficiencies and the elderly.
  • a supplement of vitamins and minerals. Eating healthy foods daily can be expensive and unobtainable to some people. For these people, supplements are a more affordable method of receiving the proper daily amount of nutrients.
  • a treatment for medical conditions. There are certain medical conditions that arise from a vitamin deficiency, such as anemia. Fish oil capsules are recommended to those suffering from cardiac diseases or those with high cholesterol.
  • energy. A proper dose of vitamins and minerals can give your metabolism a boost which, in turn, allows you to turn more fat, protein, and sugar into energy. If you find yourself getting tired early in the day, consider taking an energy-boosting supplement.


Training your body on a weekly or daily basis requires a massive amount of energy, dedication, and preparation. If the nutritional needs of the body are not met, you will soon find yourself quitting an intense workout early due to cramps, lightheadedness, nausea, or even injury. The benefits of supplements when it comes to fitness workouts and body building are numerous but critical to the success of your workout.

  • Pre workout – The top rated pre-workout supplements are specially designed to improve performance, increase strength and stamina, improve protein synthesis, maintain focus, and enhance nutrient delivery and absorption.
  • Post workout – Post-workout supplements are designed for optimal muscle growth and repair muscles, replenish your energy, and reduce muscle breakdown after a particularly intense workout.
  • Muscle building – Certain supplements are designed for the sole purpose of building muscle and can be taken at any time during the day or night. These supplements are commonly a type of protein powder with a few other nutrients mixed in that will aid in digestion, absorption, and muscle repair. It is important to note that when embarking on the journey of fitness or body building, supplements don’t start and end with your workouts. Many trainers suggest ingesting a cocktail of supplements in the morning to prepare your muscles for the day and drinking a supplement shake at night to allow increased muscle repair while you sleep.

Whether you are a serious fitness expert or you’re just someone looking to recover from a medical condition, a daily dietary supplement can be an important ally. Dietary supplements can also be an invaluable preventative measure for those who don’t have a medical condition requiring a supplement or those with an undiagnosed vitamin deficiency. Oftentimes, a vitamin deficiency will go unnoticed without symptoms. Always check with your physician before beginning a dietary supplement regimen to ensure your supplements will complement your current health status.