In this post, we explore your inner health supplement geek, and break health supplements down into four basic types, in order to help you better analyze and decide on the supplementation strategy that works best for you.
Prior to publishing this post, I searched Amazon for the term “supplements,” and there was over 325,000 results! There are a TON of different types of supplements out there, and navigating the waters of which ones are best for you can be tricky. So, let’s start with categorization.
- Core supplements. These are those supplements that are the most crucial, and almost universally needed. For example, more than one country right now is addressing a Vitamin D deficiency in their population. England has a national program to get people to supplement with Vitamin D to address depression, and the United States authorities estimate that 70% of the population has a deficiency. So Vitamin D is likely one of the core supplements. I won’t list them all here, first I want to complete the categories.
- Functional supplements. These are those supplements that you don’t necessarily “need”, but that when you take them, they provide some benefit, such as improving your mood, giving you energy, focus, vitality etc. A healthy energy drink falls into this category.
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- Performance supplements. These would be pre-workout, intra-workout, and post-workout drinks. Things that help you perform at your best and get the most out of a workout or race etc.
- Age and gender specific supplements. These are those supplements that are only beneficial to men or women, or only apply at certain times of life. For example, a testosterone boosting supplement for men over 40, or hormone balancing for women going through menopause.
So there’s the four categories, as I see them. The challenge now becomes to develop a personal supplementation strategy, based on the criteria.
Now, not everybody believes you need any supplements at all. Imagine going to a doctor and asking if you should be taking any supplements. He laughs, knowingly, and says, “No! You just need a good healthy diet and you’ll get all the vitamins and minerals you need!”
You, savvy health enthusiast, respond something like this, “Great! But can you just do a blood test to check my vitamin D levels, minerals, triglycerides, and B complex? I would just like to know where I’m at.”
He, hesitantly, “Um, well sure! No problem! Sounds great (cough cough.)”
Now, where do you think those Vitamin D, triglycerides, and B complex and mineral test results might come in at? If you live in the US, there’s a 70% chance you are deficient in Vitamin D, to start with, and taking a D supplement would help you have more energy, and even feel happier.
The same is likely true on the other tests, and others we could point out.
And I’m not here to rip on your doctor, or any other health practitioner. But I will suggest that the only true expert on your body and your health is YOU. You can learn more about supplementation in a couple months of research than your doctor learned in all of medical school, for example. Don’t take my word for it, just ask him or her just how many classes they took on nutrition and supplementation. You may be shocked.
The idea is for you to start becoming your own expert, and find the latest in research and best practices to really create something that works for you. Understand you can SURVIVE without supplements. But if your goals is more than “survival,” and you are trying to achieve your optimum state of health and fitness, then a great supplement strategy will pour gas on the fire of your health diet and lifestyle.
Developing the right list for you may take some time, but is well worth it. Start by downloading our Supplementation Strategy Sheet here.
Next, review our post here, that will help you get started with some of those most important supplements that you can add to your list.
In the end, a good supplementation strategy doesn’t have to be expensive, or difficult, but once you get the recipe right it can help you feel and perform at your absolute best.