The goals of supplement taking (WHY)

Before embarking on a course of supplements, we should assess our needs and motivation. Why do we really want to take all these? Are we fearful of becoming ill, of being diseased, of losing control? Fear is neither a good place nor a good reason to start. There are many more positive targets and more practical ones than simply allaying our fears.

  • When choosing supplements it is important to have a simple goal in mind. Write down your motivations for taking supplements.
  • Use the results of your testing to establish personal areas of focus and a nutrient plan which will meet that need.
  • Identify whether you can achieve the same health benefits by eating or avoiding certain foods rather than taking a supplement.
  • Determine the difference between what you need to take and any additional supplements you would like to take.
  • Pinpoint the specific biochemical issues or system you want to address.

Possible aims of a supplement strategy

  • Reduce oxidative stress
  • Reduce advanced glycation
  • Reduce excessive inflammation
  • Improved intestinal health
  • Assist in the elimination of waste products.
  • Optimize nutritional status / correct deficiencies
  • Stress adaptation/relaxation
  • Replace depleted hormone levels
  • Improve sleep, sex, or cognitive function
  • Supporting aging of a specific body system e.g.bone, skin, joints, etc

Supplementing for long-term health (HOW)

Slow solutions are those that can be incorporated into our daily routine. Supplements are no exception. They are not for whenever we remember to take them, or for lining our bathroom cupboard. They are not for taking in one fad of enthusiasm and then stopping when the fashion changes. This may do more harm than good. For example, antioxidants also stimulate pro-oxidant pathways to balance our systems. This isn’t a problem while the antioxidant remains around, but may be an issue if they are stopped. This may be one reason why the best successes are achieved by a diet high in antioxidants, as we are less likely to forget to eat than to take a pill.

Sustainability must be a key goal when choosing supplements especially when compared to dietary changes. One way to get the most of our supplement plan is to establish a routine.

Last Reviewed 02/Mar/2014

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Dr Merlin Thomas

Professor Merlin Thomas is Professor of Medicine at Melbourne’s Monash University, based in the Department of Diabetes. He is both a physician and a scientist. Merlin has a broader interest in all aspects of preventive medicine and ageing. He has published over 270 articles in many of the worlds’ leading medical journals
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