The market for health supplements has grown so vast in recent years that the variety of options made available for consumers has become something not unlike a huge buffet spread. This may sound appealing at first but after some time, most wellness enthusiasts realise that being spoilt for choice may not be such a good thing when the choices you make fail to pan out as intended.
The usual human reaction to discovering a supplement that doesn’t quite work is to abandon it and move on to something else. The problem with this speed dating-ish approach is that it could leave you with a medicine cabinet full of half-used products that you probably won’t ever use again. There are ways to make your supplement routine work, and it all starts with understanding why it didn’t work to begin with.
- Did you give it enough time?
Immediate results are very rare, especially if you’re taking a supplement manufactured specifically for an acute health condition along with an individualised prescription. Most, if not all over-the-counter supplements are meant to address nutritional deficiencies of a non-life-threatening nature, so any changes will require a significant amount of time to develop (unless you're experiencing a severe deficiency).
- Were you taking the right dosage?
When you’re not taking your supplements in the appropriate amount or frequency, the effects won’t be as prominent. It’s a good idea to consult a qualified nutritionist or medical practitioner who can advise you on the right dosage. Factors like body weight, diet and current health conditions are important and the recommended dosage labelled on the supplement container don’t always take your physical situation into account.
- Was the supplement of a high quality?
Just because a supplement was recommended to you by a friend or received a couple of good reviews on nutrition blogs doesn’t mean it’s of the best quality. This is your health you’re paying for, so spare no effort in doing a thorough background check on that supplement you’re considering before you purchase it! Ingredients are a huge indicator of quality, along with the brand’s reputation. Look out for third-party, independent reviews that take factors such as ingredient purity, label accuracy and manufacturing practices into account.
- Did you consider your body’s absorption rate?
Your body’s absorption rate is something unique to yourself and it affects the rate at which your body can take in the nutrients from the supplement – in short, it affects how well your body is able to make use of a given supplement. If you suffer from a chronic gut or inflammatory problem, the average time may not apply to you – consult your doctor for personalised advice. It's not always about what you eat, but what you absorb that counts.
- Were you eating right?
A bad diet will overrule any positive health benefit from the supplements you’re taking; thinking otherwise would be equivalent of putting a shine on a turd. If you really want your supplement routine to count for something, make sure that it's built on a foundation that includes a balanced and nutritious diet.
The next time that new omega-3 or vitamin supplement fails to work as promised, don’t be too quick to discredit it! Remember that supplements are not regulated that same way as food and drugs are, so the consumer has to be more discerning in his/her practices. There's more to proper supplement usage than just following what's printed on the bottle!