What You Should Know About Protein Supplements and Nutrition

Many people believe that instead of eating healthy foods, they can simply use supplements and get everything that they need. When supplements become the majority of the dietplan, however, they may be displacing other nutrient sources nutrition theory.


– Weight management requires a lifelong commitment to more healthful lifestyle behaviors (Science Daily: February 4, 2009).

In the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the position on supplements was simple: people should get the bulk of their nutrition from healthy and varied foods, but a supplement can be beneficial for those who are having difficulty reaching their nutritional goals. There are a number of areas of nutrition where deficiency can be common, including calcium and iron in women and Omega-3 fatty acids in both genders. (Men should only eat marine sources of Omega-3 because of the increased risk of prostate cancer from other sources, especially those that are high in alanine) (Source: Tsang, 2007).

Supplement sales in the United States totaled over twenty-three billion dollars in 2007. (Science News, 2009) Part of the increased sales is due in part to the aging population and increased desire to meet health needs. The supplements that saw an increase in sales included calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A/beta carotene, magnesium and iron. Sales of vitamin E have gone down. There have been a number of studies that have linked vitamin E to increased bleeding problems, especially in those who are taking certain medications like Coumadin or those who have had certain types of strokes. Vitamin E also reacts with vitamin K. Anyone who is taking these types of medications or has certain types of conditions should only take vitamin E under direct supervision of their doctor (Source: Feinstein 1996).

The ADA’s paper did state that the increased sales did not come along with an increase in knowledge, after a report completed in ’09 showed that many consumers were not as well informed as they should be about safety or the effectiveness of supplements that they are taking or giving to their families. The concern is that unsafe nutritional supplements can lead to serious health risks and can make existing conditions worse.

Ella and Fredrick, along with their three children, are trying to get more nutritious foods in their dietplan. In addition, they want to increase the amount of exercise that they get and learn more about health in general. The problem is that Fredrick just blithely and blindly accepts whatever vitamins and supplements his wife gives him and the kids are picky and will probably fight against anything that is presented, even though they claim they are willing to give supplements and healthy foods a try.

On the other hand, Ella likes to read information, any information that she can get her hands on. The problem with some of the news that Ella is reading is simple: it just is not true, scientific or validated in any way. She needs to learn how to tell a well-researched article from one that is nothing more than a wordy advertisement for a product that may not accomplish all of its claims nor contain the ingredients that it is advertised to have. She also needs to learn to monitor the news about the conditions and/or diseases that are most relevant to her and her family.

Before she starts any supplements for herself or her family, Ella should discuss her needs with a doctor and a nutritionist so that she knows what her actual needs are for everything from calorie counts to how many grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates she should get. She should also discuss the health needs of her children so that the right supplement can be found for them. In addition, Ella will also need to learn the best sites and sources for information about new research and updated studies. Discussing choices with the doctor and nutritionist can help her to learn which supplements to steer clear of as well as which ones are actually beneficial.

Protein is vital to every organ and function of the body, but too much can be a problem in the dietplan. The American Heart Association recommendation is that protein makes up no more than 35 percent of the daily caloric intake. In addition, some protein supplements are high in calories and can be a problem for those who have food intolerances or allergies. There are a number of different protein supplement types that can be used, but there can be problems with them in addition to the high calorie counts. For instance, protein bars, which are considered to be a good choice for people on the go, can have nearly as much sugar as a typical candy bar.