Never! Vitamins cannot substitute exercising

December 16, 2015

When we’re looking around for the latest health tips, it’s often common to come across the idea that vitamins and supplements are the key. Whilst they are important – particularly if you don’t have the best diet – they should never be treated as a replacement for something such as exercise. Let’s look at some of the benefits you can only get from exercise, as well as how vitamins and supplements can add to this.

There are numerous benefits when it comes to illness – it’s been proven to reduce things like breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia and hip fractures by above 20%! But even beyond these major benefits (which are complex, and affected by many other factors too!) there are smaller ones that simply cannot be achieved in other ways.

Increased Joint Strength

While taking calcium and vitamin D supplements can help your bones and joints, if you are inactive and they do not get much use there is only so much they can do! Exercising regularly – particularly activities like yoga, pilates and body weight exercises – are great for building up the strength in your joints, and thereby reducing the chances of injury.

Less Risk of Fractures

Again, whilst calcium and vitamin D are excellent for building up bone strength, there is a limit on what they can do. This is especially vital for women, who are more prone to osteoporosis as they age. If you’re concerned about injury when exercising because of pre-existing weaker bones, then work with a personal trainer or chat with your GP about it. UK made food supplements can well help, but they can’t replace good old-fashioned exercise.


Weight Loss

No matter how many adverts on the internet tell you there’s a magic supplement to make you lose weight, there isn’t. There are supplements that may aid – for instance, green tea supplements may have benefits – but in general, the only way to really lose weight is through a combination of diet change and exercise. Exercising means you can still be eating healthily and heartily and see the benefits, so we highly recommend it for this.

As well as these key benefits, there are also disadvantages to be had in taking vitamins alongside exercise. A study in 2014 found that taking vitamin C and E may “blunt” the way muscles respond to exercise. Whilst it’s not a bad enough effect to impact athletic performance, it is worth being aware of when considering what options to take. If your major health concerns are less about exercise and more about something like bad skin, then taking vitamin C and E may well be worthwhile – they have major benefits for your skin that exercise simply doesn’t. However, if you want to be gaining muscle/losing weight, then it may be worth culling them for now. Of course this is only in supplemental, dense form – absorbing them as part of a standard diet does not have the same sort of impact.

Despite all of the above, saying that vitamins are not a replacement for exercise does not mean they cannot be used to support exercise. In fact, for things like this, supplements can be very useful! Most people have a minor vitamin D deficiency as it’s hard to absorb from food, and mostly is gained via sun exposure – something we don’t get much of! Vitamin D is important in a variety of ways, but notably, it helps you to process calcium. Calcium is vital for healthy bones, and rather than attempting to up your intake of this, it’s far more effective just to help your body process it. Therefore, adding a vitamin D supplement into your diet can help with exercise – as long as you don’t treat it as a replacement.

If muscle gain is your goal, you may have considered protein supplements. Some people think that just adding these in with minimal exercise will give a decent boost, and this is pretty far from the truth! However, talking through with a GP or personal trainer to work out an ideal diet, amounts of supplement to add in and what exercise to do can lead to a healthy symbiosis of these things. Protein alone cannot give you muscles – but it can certainly help your body to gain them!

In general, if looking into taking UK made food supplements of any kind, you’ll want to do your research on the expected benefits and not treat them as some magic cure all. They can be fantastic at supporting you in other endeavours – such as gaining a healthy diet or beginning exercise – but they can’t act as a replacement for either of these things. If in doubt, talk to a medical professional and see what they advise, and try to make sure you balance out supplements, food and exercise in a sensible and healthy manner.

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