Supplements.

Head into your local drugstore, and you’ll see them – shelf after shelf of liquids, powders and pills.

They make every promise under the sun – weight loss, weight gain, hair growth, hair removal, better nails, better skin, more energy, more libido – if you can think of it, there’s a supplement for it.

The question is…do they work?

Today we’re going to be addressing this little issue.  We’ll be talking all about supplements, why you should be skeptical of them, and our personal recommendations for choosing stuff that actually produces results.

The Problem With Supplements

There are a few major problems with the supplement industry, but the big one is this – most of their fantastic claims are a.) exaggerated, or b.) unverifiable.

This is because a supplement and a drug are, from a legal perspective, two different things.

A drug is tested and evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (or the equivalent agency in your country).

A supplement is NOT.

Now, does that necessarily mean that it doesn’t work?  Of course not.  One of the dark little secrets of these agencies is that getting a new drug or product through for approval is incredibly expensive, and can often take years.

In reality, there are likely a multitude of supplements on the market today that are “effective” – the problem is going through all of them and separating the trash from the treasure.

The Best Bang For Your Buck Supplements

Given that there’s a lot of shadiness on the market, you may be tempted to conclude that all of these products are, in fact, a gigantic waste of time and money.

While it may seem that way given the sheer quantity of bullshit, there are some products that are absolutely worth it.

And while we don’t have time to dive into the minefield of crap and breakdown which ones (and there are a lot) don’t do anything for you, we can point you in the right direction by sharing what DOES work.

The following is a list of things that almost every woman should have in her cupboard.  These have all not only been researched extensively, but are affordable and effective in helping you reach your health and fitness goals.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for a properly functioning body.  Among other things, its main role is the maintenance of strong bones, absorbing calcium into the body, and boosting the immune system.

And unless you work outside on a construction site, chances are you’re deficient.

That’s because the vast majority of our vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun, which (unfortunately) we’ve been told for decades to avoid and protect against with sunscreen by dermatologists and…ahem…sunscreen manufacturers.

And while getting more sun exposure will help rectify this problem, not all of us are lucky enough to live somewhere with 12 months a year of summer.

The solution?  A vitamin D supplement.  You only need one or two tablets a day, and bottle will literally cost you less than $10.

Fish Oil

If you live in the West, chances are you’re getting plenty of fat in your diet…you’re just not getting the RIGHT kind of fat.

Without going into too much of a science lesson, the short version of it is this – your body needs fat to survive.  There are certain fatty acids that the body can produce on its own (“non essential fatty acids”), and then there are those that it can’t (“essential fatty acids”).

The two essential fatty acids that you must get from your diet are linoleic (omega-6 fat) and alpha-linolenic (omega-3 fat).

Unfortunately, most of us get far too much omega-6 and far too little omega-3.

And it’s easy to see why.  Common sources of omega-6 fatty acids includes eggs, poultry, cereal, cooking oil, and certain types of bread…all staples of the standard modern diet.

Common sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish, nuts, seeds and certain oils like flaxseed…yeah, we don’t eat as much of those as we should either.

None of this is to say that there’s anything wrong with eating foods high in omega-6 fat.  But without a proper balance, you’re setting yourself up for health problems.

Fortunately, a good fish oil supplement is not only an effective way to help remedy this, but it’s an incredibly easy one as well.  Most fish oil today comes in capsule form – simply pop a few first thing in the morning, and you’re good to go.

Whey Protein

There’s absolutely no question about it – when it comes to dietary protein, most women eat FAR too little.

There are a few different reasons for this.  Part of it is perception, and the idea that eating lots of protein is just a “guy thing” for dudes looking to get jacked.

Another part of it is simply preference – most (though not all) women tend to gravitate more towards carbs (breads, pasta, sugar, etc.), while men tend to go more for the meat.

Unfortunately, when it comes to dietary success, eating a low protein diet is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

While you may not realize it, increasing your protein can help with more of your health and fitness goals than you think.

Wanna gain muscle?  A high protein diet can help with that (for obvious reasons).

Wanna lose fat?  Good news – a high protein diet has you covered, since protein is highly satiating and effective for preventing hunger.

Wanna improve the look of your hair and nails?  Believe it or not, a high protein diet has even been shown to help with this, since hair and nails are, basically, protein.

So, if you want all the benefits of this diet without having to choke down endless chicken breasts, consider investing in a quality whey protein powder to make shakes (most of the flavours on the market today are surprisingly tasty).

Creatine

Another supplement that’s mainly associated with guys looking to bulk up, creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is both produced by the body and found in protein rich foods.  It’s available in supplement form, and is widely considered to be the most studied compound in sports science.

It’s also vital for muscular contractions, and has been shown to improve muscular endurance, muscle size, bone density, and has even been linked to improved cognition and better sleep.

Now, if you’re like most women, the term “building muscle” probably scares you because you “don’t want to get big and bulky”.

But rest assured, as long as you’re not taking copious amounts of steroids, 99% of women simply don’t have the hormones to get bulky.  Proper weight training and nutrition will build muscle – but it’s the kind of muscle that produces that sleek, toned appearance that most women dream of attaining.

So, if that sounds like something that appeals to you (and it should), then remember – lift weights, rest and eat protein.  And for that extra boost, consider taking a daily creatine supplement.  It’s cheap, easy and comes with absolutely no downside.

Kind of a no brainer.