Supplements: What Are They and Why Do I Need Them?

October 9, 2014
Supplements: What Are They and Why Do I Need Them?

Supplements: What Are They and Why Do I Need Them?

Ever since you were a child, your mother has been pestering you to take vitamins every day. Like everything else when you’re a kid, taking your vitamins always seemed to be an unnecessary hassle that you simply did not want to do. However, little did you know, vitamins were the key to maintaining your health and keeping your body in check.

Now that you’re an adult, your moods are probably much more subdued than when you were a child, and your energy is usually running low. You don’t feel as healthy as you used to, and you’re looking to put a little pep in your step. Now is the time to get back into the routine of taking daily supplements and to admit that mother, indeed, does know best.

What are Supplements?

Supplements are daily pills that you take to give your body the necessary nutrients it needs. The majority of these vitamins are supposed to be consumed along with your daily food intake. However, if you are like most Americans and consume a high carb, high fat diet, you probably aren’t getting the nutrients you need from your food alone.

Supplements come in many forms and can either be solid pills, capsules or liquid drinks. They can be vitamins, minerals, herbs or other plants and should only be used to enhance your dietary needs, not to be a meal replacement.

There are dozens of different types of supplements that are used for a variety of reasons, but some of the primary supplements include:

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin C
  • Prenatal Vitamins
  • B2 vitamins
  • Protein supplements
  • Fiber pills
  • Calcium supplements
  • Iron supplements
  • Dietary supplements
  • Amino Acids
  • Fish Oil pills

Even though vitamins are intended to maintain your health, they are not able to treat any serious medical issues. For example, if you are suffering from a calcium deficiency, calcium supplements can help to increase that nutrient in your body. But if you have osteoporosis, calcium supplements will not be able to provide the type of medical treatment that a prescription medication will.

Even though the previously named supplements just barely scratch the surface of the wide variety that are available, it gives you a good idea of what people are choosing to use supplements for in their life. In order to help you understand how you can incorporate supplements into your life, here are some of the most popular supplements and what they can do to better your health.

What are the different types of supplements?


Multivitamins are daily vitamins that are specialized for certain sexes and age groups. You may have seen Flinstone gummy vitamins for children or Centrum daily vitamins for men. The different types of multivitamins include:

  • Children’s
  • Men’s
  • Women’s
  • 50+

Each one of these groups has different dietary needs that cannot always be fulfilled by the same type of vitamins. Depending on your age and sex, your body is lacking different nutrients, and these multivitamins are specifically created to increase those particular nutrients.

To find out more about multivitamins and if you should start incorporating them into our daily routine, check out this Q & A with MedlinePlus.

Mineral supplements:

Mineral supplements are used when you are suffering from a mineral deficiency. Some of the most common types of mineral supplements used to correct deficiencies include:

  • Boron
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Suffering from these types of mineral deficiencies is something that can be very common. When lacking one of these essential minerals, many people can feel lethargic and most do not even know that they are lacking these types of minerals from their diets. Luckily, it is a quick fix to get out of the sluggish mood and back into your normal routine.

Letter Vitamins:

Letter vitamins are exactly what they sound like: Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and so forth. Each letter vitamin plays a different key role in your health, and when you are not getting enough of one of these vitamins, it becomes apparent.

In order to help you understand what each type of letter vitamin does, below are definitions that explain what each vitamin is used for:

  • Vitamin A: Important for normal vision, the immune system and reproduction. It also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs to work properly.
  • Vitamin B: Important in cell metabolism. There are several different types of B vitamins, but all of them play a role in providing energy for your body.
  • Vitamin C: Acts as an antioxidant and helps to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
  • Vitamin D: Helps to absorb calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zin
  • Vitamin E: Helps to build a strong immunity and keep your skin and eyes healthy.
  • Vitamin K: Is necessary for the modification of certain proteins that are required for blood coagulation.

Cardiovascular Supplements:

Cardiovascular health problems are becoming more and more prevalent in our society. Taking steps to better monitor your cardiac health is becoming a necessity. Along with diet and exercise, cardiovascular supplements are a simple way to keep your heart health in check.

Some of the different types of cardiovascular supplements include:

All of these vitamins perform different specified functions on your body, but as a whole, they have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues including arrhythmias, blood clotting, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. To find out more about what each of these supplements do, visit WebMD.

Amino Acids:

There are 20 different kinds of amino acids in our bodies, and all of them play a very important role in maintaining energy levels and metabolism. Amino acids also help with skin and hair loss, digestive problems, sleeping disorders, stress, and all-around poor health.

A deficiency in amino acids, like a deficiency of many other vitamins, becomes apparent almost immediately. Maintaining the amount of these nutrients in your body is a necessity and not something you want to put off.

Some of the different types of amino acid supplements include:

So now that you know the basics of what the different types of supplements are, and what they can do for you, you are able to make a more educated diagnosis of what might be right for you and your body.

How long should I take supplements for?

The duration of time in which you are taking certain supplements can vary. Some supplements are safe to take over extended periods of time while others need to be monitored more regularly.

Supplements like multivitamins can be taken daily over long periods of time. Your intake of multivitamins doesn’t need to be highly regulated since these are common over the counter health supplements that many doctors recommend you take on a daily basis anyway.

However, when you start taking more specialized types of vitamins based off of a doctor’s recommendation, this is something that needs to be more regularly monitored. Each person is different, but consulting your healthcare provider a few times each year about your supplement regiment is always a good idea as there are times when it becomes unnecessary to continue taking supplements.

There is no fool proof way to determine how long an individual should incorporate a type of supplement into their daily routine, so the best way to go about it is to ask your doctor. No one knows your body better than you do and by talking about it with your doctor, you can make the necessary adjustments to ensure your health is always at its best.

How do I know which supplements to take?

If you are simply wanting to live a healthier lifestyle and have a higher intake of vitamins, a daily multivitamin is the best option for you. It is a safe method that does not drastically alter your body or cause negative side effects.

However, if you are noticing drastic changes in your health, i.e. sleep patterns, mood, or energy levels, it is best to do some research of your own as well as consult a doctor in order to properly diagnose which vitamins or minerals you might be lacking.

To find out more information about the basics of supplements, visit our blog Why Are Supplements Becoming Necessary for Healthy Living?