Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that we need in small quantities (micronutrients) to keep our bodies and metabolism in order. All vitamins can be taken as supplements; however, not all supplements are vitamins and are often built using a multiplicity of ingredients.
Importantly, supplements should be added to – and never replace the natural vitamins we should get from our daily food intake. Examples of supplements such as fish oils, zinc and echinacea can be used to aid our bodies for myriad reasons such as recovering from illness, stabilising blood sugar levels, boosting energy and building muscle.
Vitamins naturally occur in our body through our dietary intake, what we consume provides us with nutrients and vital vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. Everybody needs vitamins, but not everybody will need supplements. Supplements are manufactured/ synthetic or naturally- occurring chemicals that you may take to enhance your diet – particularly if you are aware that your body is in a deficit for one or more of the vital vitamins it needs.
The important thing to remember first is the word – balance! The decision to take supplements shouldn’t just happen on a whim. Discuss your reasons for considering them with your GP or a qualified health professional first. Eliminating any underlying health concerns and following sound advice from a bloodwork specialist is the only way to know if your body is missing a vital vitamin. You should be able to request one from your GP.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health talks about workout supplements, which are marketed as something to boost your energy and endurance “pre-workout”. There are others that promote post-workout “recovery”, aiding enhanced muscle repair. Something the article stresses however is that “Post-workout supplementation with carbohydrates and protein within 24–36 hours is only recommended following strenuous physical activity. This means one hour or more of vigorous exercise such as interval training; running, swimming, bicycling, soccer, or basketball at a moderate to intense effort.” You will know if you’ve reached this level, as you probably won’t be able to speak as you’ll be focused on breathing!
Unless your blood tests have indicated that you are missing a number of vitamins, or you have a specific professional level of training for a sporting event or competition; we agree with the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.