Searching for Supplements
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Whether it’s a sorority girl taking b-complex vitamins for hair growth or a freshman male experimenting with the newest creatine so he can attract that sorority girl, dietary supplements are not uncommon among college students.
There is no shortage of options when we search online or venture to the health store. While I can’t review the hundreds of supplements on the market, a great resource for supplement validity can be found at examine.com.
In short, research on most supplements is scant, with effects being exaggerated or complete fairy tales. Before popping some pills, do your homework.
Here are a few supplements I recommend to most people, as the benefits span across large populations and have solid science backing their use. Of course, none of these are miracles, nor should they be looked at as substitutes for a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Fish oil – One of the most popular supplements today, and for good reason. Benefits include decreased inflammation markers, decreasing blood pressure with hypertensive individuals, improving HDL: LDL cholesterol ratio and increased insulin sensitivity.
There is even some research showing fish oil to improve mood for those suffering from depression symptoms. Dosages vary depending on the goal, but a safe starting point is 1-2 grams of combined EPA/DHA daily. This is the equivalent of 4-6 standard capsules. To prevent “fish oil burps” consume capsules with food and split capsules into multiple servings.
Protein powder – Nearly every popular diet today has one thing in common – high protein. Diets high in protein promote lean body mass and decrease hunger, which can result in fat loss. Although the benefits of protein are clear, the typical college diet is lacking. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, protein is rarely found in a convenient form and typically expensive.
The exception to both of those rules is protein powder. With dozens of flavors and creative ways to use protein powder, it can be a lifesaver during busy times. Outside of the standard mixing with water or milk, try mixing with yogurt and peanut butter or oatmeal and peanut butter for quick high-protein snacks.
Vitamin D – Although recent research hasn’t been promising, I still believe vitamin D can help certain populations. During the winter months when sun exposure is limited it’s wise to supplement with vitamin D, as it’s difficult to obtain adequate needs with diet alone. Vitamin D plays a synergistic role with calcium in bone health.