So you just started working out and everyone (your trainer, your fittest friend, the entire internet!) is telling you to take this supplement and that supplement. It can be a bit confusing so here’s a simple road map for you to help navigate the ridiculousness of today’s supplements.
I. Have a Solid Foundation of Food
Taking supplements when you have a crappy diet doesn’t work very well. It’s like putting a nitrous oxide boost in your car when you have a flat tire, need an oil change and have loaded the trunk with extra weight--the boost will have little effect. Rather than doing this, cut out processed foods (almost anything in a package) and refined carbohydrates (anything with enriched/bleached flour). Make sure to add healthy fats (coconut oil, grass-fed butter), healthy animal proteins (grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, wild fish), and nutritionally dense organic veggies (dark leafy greens.) Give your body a tune up.
II. Tailor the Supplements to Your Specific Needs
After improving your diet, get a blood panel to find out what vitamins and minerals you’re deficient in. Lifestyle and genetics will probably still leave you at less than optimal levels for certain key items, so find out what you specifically need. Throwing the kitchen sink of supplements at your body is unlikely to even work very well. Many vitamins are cofactors for one another and work with rate-limited synergism in your body. What this means is if you have a ton of vitamin D3 but not enough vitamin K2, the efficacy of the D3 is limited and you’re not fully realizing the benefits of either nutrient.
III. 80/20 It
Having done your blood panel, you’ll undoubtedly find you have less than optimal levels of several, if not dozens, of vitamins and minerals. Loading up with all of them at once may be a waste of time, energy, and money. Instead, find out which are the most important to your specific needs and do those vital few first. Example: if you have a darker complexion and live in a part of the world that gets limited sunlight, it’s likely you’ll need some vitamin D3, particularly since it’s used by about a third of the genes in your body.
Remember, supplements are meant to supplement your daily diet, not be your daily diet. So eat healthy foods, find out what you need, and then implement what will have the greatest effect. You’ll be miles ahead of where you were before.