Supplements should be used in addition to, rather than instead of, a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Often, we can avoid taking supplements by making some lifestyle modifications. For some people, though, with their doctor’s approval, supplements can help. If you’re wondering when to take supplements, some conditions could potentially benefit from their use, including depression, fatigue, and bone health. We’ll discuss these aspects as well as what types of supplements to look for.
When to take supplements: A primer
Supplements have a curious history within the medical industry. Some opponents believe that they are pseudoscience and not worth using to treat chronic conditions. However, medical researchers have been studying the effects of various supplements for a number of conditions, including depression, and have found some compelling evidence for their use, as we’ll discuss further on in this post.
As with all treatments, though, always take great care when adding these or any other supplements to your diets and routines. Be sure to understand the correct amounts, the interactions they may have with other supplements or medications, and any potential side effects or risks. Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements. Some could interact with your current medications or be contraindicated due to other factors.
Further, simply adding these supplements while ignoring exercise and healthy eating strategies won’t solve any underlying issues, like depression or fatigue. Supplements aren’t intended to be a cure for certain conditions, but they can augment treatments and lifestyle changes that work to heal the entire body. Don’t allow yourself to give into the hype over supplements. Instead, seek the advice of a professional to better understand your specific needs and how to integrate them into your current lifestyle.
The benefits of supplements for depression
Most people will feel depressed at some point in their lives. It is a natural reaction to difficult life situations and results in sadness and despair. Most of the time depression is temporary and will subside eventually. However, some individuals suffer from chronic depression that makes it difficult to function, leave the house, or interact with others including family.
Feeling sad isn’t, in and of itself, a definitive symptom of depression. Symptoms of chronic depression can vary between patients but often include:
- Tendency toward hopelessness
- Lack self-worth
- Feel helpless in their daily lives
- Decreased energy
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Appetite effects, either causing them to overeat or not eat at all
- Aching pain that doesn’t respond to medication
- Thoughts of suicide
Chronic depression isn’t something to take lightly. Nearly 7% of adults in the U.S. experience depression at this level. Women are 70% more likely to become chronically depressed than men. While it is more common in adults over thirty, over 3% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 also struggle with depression.
The most important thing for someone with chronic depression is to find the right treatment. All too often traditional medicine focuses solely on the symptoms. Medications are fine if they are supplemented with a holistic approach to treat the entire patient. Good nutrition, exercise, mental health care, and more all add up to a better-rounded treatment plan for someone dealing with the effects of depression. And, as some recent research shows, some supplements for depression could also help.
Omega-3 fatty acids for depression
Frequently, depression is triggered by another chronic pain condition. A study published by Elsevier demonstrated that individuals with inflammatory pain conditions leading to depression could benefit from adding omega-3 fatty acids to their treatments. Omega-3s, most commonly taken as a supplement in fish oil, are beneficial for a number of health reasons including lowering the risk of heart disease.
To determine the effects that fish oil had on patients with the inflammatory condition hepatitis C, researchers recruited patients undergoing treatment and divided them into three groups. Using two of the components of fish oil and a placebo, each for a third of the group, they were able to evaluate which of the three was most effective in battling depression.
Patients treated with the acid EPA, one of the components of fish oil, showed a decrease of hepatitis-C treatment induced depression. However, patients taking the other acid, DHA, or the placebo did not. The study is just one of many that seem to indicate that a supplement of fish oil can help augment traditional treatments for depression.
From Dr. Carmine Pariante from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London:
“The study shows that even a short course (two weeks) of a nutritional supplement containing one such omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (EPA) reduced the rates of new-onset depression to 10%.”
A holistic approach to treating depression does advocate an entire person approach. This may include better nutrition practices, which may incorporate omega-3 fatty acids.
Ketamine for depression
Researchers at Mt. Sinai Medical Center released a study that showed the anesthetic ketamine could have a positive, rapid effect on individuals suffering from depression. However, this treatment is not without its drawbacks. Ketamine has also been linked with drug abuse over the years so using it to treat depression is a careful science that requires low-doses and professional care.
The controlled study showed that intranasal ketamine provided rapid effects within 24 hours for depressed patients who were unable to find relief from any other treatment. In the double blind study, twenty random patients seeking treatment for major depression were given either ketamine or saline. Patients receiving the intranasal ketamine met the study’s response criteria with minimal dissociative effects. Additional outcomes included a reduction of anxiety and a change in the reporting of depression symptoms.
Dr. James W. Murrough from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai indicated:
“There is an urgent clinical need for new treatments for depression with novel mechanisms of action. With further research and development, this could lay the groundwork for using NMDA targeted treatments for major depressive disorder.”
The study hopes to initiate more research into the use of intranasal ketamine to see how it can affect patients dealing with major, chronic depression who are unable to find relief through other means of treatment. The team of researchers wants to examine the mechanism and doses, and use functional brain imaging to determine more about the use of ketamine as a treatment for depression.
Other supplements for depression
Of course, omega-3 fatty acids and ketamine are not the only things that can work to augment treatments for depression. Other supplements may include:
- B-complex vitamins: These vitamins help the body produce more serotonin that can help fight depression and anxiety.
- 5-HTP: Short for 5-hydroxytryptophan, this supplement is a serotonin pre-cursor and can sometimes help when depression medications can’t.
- Theanine: This amino acid is commonly found in green tea and can be used as a supplement as well. It helps relax the body and calm anxiety.
If you or someone you know battles chronic depression, it is important to seek out professional help to guide your treatment in the right direction. Supplements or exercises alone can’t cure depression. You can find affordable or cheap therapy resources here to get started on your journey.
Supplements for bone and joint health
Bone and joint health may be the keystone to overall health. With a strong skeletal system and flexible joints, a human body can stand up to other issues that it may face throughout a lifespan. The loss of bone mass may be common as we grow older but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it. While these conditions are often considered normal “wear and tear” and are associated with the natural aging process they don’t have to mean an automatic end to the lifestyle you already have.
While there are many conditions that affect bones and joints through the human lifespan the most common are those that affect older adults. These are degenerative conditions more likely caused by aging than injury or illness; however these factors can also play a role in the evolution of the condition. The two most common are osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
A holistic approach to bone and joint health means paying attention to all of your body’s signals and treating every aspect that makes up our lives. Supplements can be an excellent addition to your daily routine.
This condition is considered, in general, to be part of the body’s aging process. As we grow older our bones begin to become more brittle which can result in painful fractures that are difficult to heal. Osteoporosis is not an absolute, however, and there are many things people can do to slow or stop the occurrence and help heal already weak bones.
Osteoporosis is more common in women than men, but men are susceptible. It frequently occurs in women after menopause due to hormonal changes. Other risk factors include smoking and some medications.
This condition can cause complications for individuals if they should fall and break already weakened bones. Breaking a hip or an arm could result in long-term healing issues and a decreased quality of life. Osteoporosis can also cause the bones in the spine to compress, which can lead to additional problems and painful conditions.
Another common joint condition is osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis. Also associated with aging, osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage between bone joints begins to wear down over time. This causes the bones to rub together uncomfortably and causes pain and inflammation.
Women are also more likely to be affected by the condition. Obesity, joint injuries, genetics, and even certain jobs that create pressure on the joints can lead to osteoarthritis. When someone is overweight, for instance, the added stress on the joints in the hips or knees can cause the cartilage to become damaged or degenerate.
The primary concern with osteoarthritis is long-term pain. Joints may hurt during movement or have lingering pain after. They may become stiff and tender when pressure is applied. It is even common to hear and feel a grating sensation when the joint is moved as the unprotected bones rub together. Someone with osteoarthritis may lose some normal function in the joints that are affected.
There are several supplements that are effective and easy to add to a daily routine. They could help with osteoporosis or osteoarthritis. These include the following.
Calcium for osteoporosis
Everyone knows that calcium is important for building and maintaining strong bones. Milk and other dairy sources, along with leafy green vegetables, can be a great way to get some calcium into the diet but most people aren’t getting nearly enough. And not getting enough may be one of the leading contributors to the degeneration of bones and cartilage in the body.
The good news is that calcium is easy to get as a supplement which makes it extremely simple to use every day. With so many options on the table many experts suggest taking the one that works best and doesn’t cost much. Always talk to your doctor before adding to your routing.
This vitamin helps the body properly absorb calcium. Of course, the best way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure but for a variety of reasons this may not be possible every day. Also, as we age our skin has fewer receptors for vitamin D so it is even more essential to supplement to help with bone loss and prevention.
Experts recommend taking supplements that use vitamin D3 for the best results. While everyone should make sure to get the right amount of this vitamin, women should pay special attention to supplements since they are more susceptible to osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
While calcium and vitamin D are the superstars of the bone world, vitamin K plays an underappreciated supporting role. It assists in the activation of proteins involved in the structuring of bone mass.
Low bone density is often linked to low amounts of vitamin K within the body. Of course, like calcium and vitamin D, the best way to get enough of this vitamin is through a healthy lifestyle. Leafy green vegetables like spinach and Brussels sprouts are a great source but they also might not be enough. A supplement can help with this essential building block as well.
Supplements for fatigue
Everyone has experienced days where they are tired. Maybe you stayed up too late burning the midnight oil or a friend’s birthday party kept you out past your bedtime on a week night. Going to work the next day can be challenging when all you really want to do is curl up and sleep for a few more hours. Tiredness is one thing but fatigue is something entirely different.
Fatigue, on the other hand, is the body’s way of saying it simply can’t keep up. No amount of sleep will replenish the energy banks for someone suffering from fatigue. In fact, people who are experiencing fatigue may feel absolutely exhausted and drained of energy but sleeplessness haunts them so there appears to be no relief in sight. It is often caused by another condition such as cancer or fibromyalgia and can lead to long-term problems, additional pain, and depression or anxiety.
The conflation of the two conditions can lead to inaccurate diagnoses and a failure to treat the fatigue as a serious problem.
How does fatigue really affect the body?
There are so many ways to describe fatigue and even reputable medical sites will interchange it with words such as tiredness and weakness. But fatigue is more than that. If you are experiencing physical fatigue your muscles may be incapable of moving in the ways that had been normal. Activities such as climbing stairs or carrying heavy items may be difficult or impossible. When a doctor is determining if someone has physical fatigue they will conduct a strength test. Mental fatigue, on the other hand, affects our ability to think and function. Concentrating becomes difficult and it may be impossible to get out of bed even if sleep is elusive. Performing daily tasks becomes a mental obstacle course. Mental and physical fatigue often go together, but they don’t have to.
Fatigue and chronic pain conditions often go hand in hand, but which comes first is generally a chicken or the egg question. Fibromyalgia, for instance, is a difficult to explain and diagnose condition that causes intense nerve pain. Many patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia also report extreme fatigue and a type of fibro fog. This can lead to depression if the underlying problems remain untreated.
Many types of fatigue require more in-depth intervention. Speaking with your medical specialist may be the best way to determine why you’re feeling fatigue and what you can do about it. However, there are some supplements that can help you stay healthy and happy and fatigue free.
Iron and magnesium
While both of these nutrients can be found in healthy, whole foods you may not be getting enough of them. Iron and magnesium also help:
- Regulate our blood pressure
- Ensure proper muscle function
- Boost energy
Are you one of those people who can’t sleep when there is any light in your bedroom? This is because of the sleep hormone melatonin that is extremely light sensitive.
Simply avoiding light before bedtime can help regulate this hormone, but you can also add a melatonin supplement to your daily routine to get your sleep cycle back on track.
An amino acid that helps you fall asleep sounds like a great magic bullet. As with any supplement it shouldn’t be considered an instant fix, but it can help.
Glycine also helps with cognitive function so you feel more refreshed and mentally active when you wake in the morning.
There is another amino acid that works similarly to glycine. Rather than acting as a sedative, this one improves overall sleep quality.
Theanine can be found in tea so it is pretty easy to ingest it. If you go this route, watch out for teas with high caffeine content. White tea may be a better choice than black tea.
Stress absolutely contributes to feelings of fatigue so why not head it off at the pass? This amino acid can actually stop stress from occurring before it starts.
When facing a stressful situation take this supplement to prevent your body from reacting negatively.
How to find the best supplements
All supplements carry risks as well as benefits. Some may have interactions with other medications that could cause long-term problems. Others shouldn’t be taken by individuals with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes. The single most important thing to keep in mind with all of these supplements is to use them only as directed by a professional. Taking these things into your own hands can result in more problems.
Further, not all supplements are created equal so make sure that they are purchased from a reputable source. If you can, try to add more of these nutrients in your diet by consuming foods that contain them naturally. Your doctor can help you determine where you can make changes in your eating habits.
Always consult a specialist before adding any of these to your routine to find out how much is appropriate for you. With the right supervision and using these supplements properly, you may find that you have more physical and mental energy to face your daily activities, reduced risk of bone and joint issues, and can beat the challenges of depression.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain along with any of these conditions, there is help. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.