Flip Your Script

John J. Schessler, Wellness Coach/Personal Trainer

Supplements, Supplements everywhere!

If you have been working out for any length of time you have heard people using supplements. Supplementation for balancing out your bodies regulatory processes is nothing new. As a matter of fact, the supplement industry is a billion dollar industry that is constantly growing. In 2020, for example, total US sales for supplements for the year averaged about $55.75 billion dollars! If you’re like most people, knowing which ones to use and which ones are better than the others can get confusing due to new brands being introduced to the public all the time. Let’s try and break this supplement language down to its bear-bones.

One thing that you have to understand before we can move forward with this talk is that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate the distribution or monitoring of supplements. Basically anyone can market their own line of supplements for public sales. This is why it’s imperative to know what is contained in each of the different kinds and what operations they perform. There are seven basic types of supplements, they are:

  • Minerals (15 essential)
  • Herbal/Botanical
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Weight Loss
  • Specialty
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamins

Nearly 3 in 4 people take one or more supplements daily to help regulate and streamline certain processes that their bodies can’t handle by themselves. What I am going to try to do in short order, is break down each category with what you need to know about them.


As I said above, there are 13 essential vitamins in which our body uses to help internal processes carry on from day to day. The most essential of these vitamins are A, D, E, K and the 8 different B vitamins that make up the B Complex vitamins. People take vitamins for a few different reasons, one of which being that they may be deficient in one or more that the body makes naturally. One example is vitamin D. Over 41% of American adults are deficient in this vitamin that helps regulate calcium and phosphorus in the body. There are also individuals who are iron deficient and can develop anemia where you body doesn’t produce enough hemoglobin in your red blood cells, so people may wind up being iron deficient as well. Talking to your doctor about whether or not you may be lacking in some areas may seem like a not-so-important conversation to have and while most people just leave it up to the doc to make sure everything looks good, we need to be more vigilant in ways on checking and keeping an eye on our health. After all, we’re inside our bodies all the time.

In regards to minerals, 15 are essential – seven are called marcominerals and the other six are trace minerals. Your body requires certain amounts of both macro and trace minerals a day to again keep the body up and running on all cylinders. What do minerals do? Well…minerals are necessary to keep your bones, brain, heart, joints and muscles healthy, so yeah, they do a lot. If a person is lacking in one or more minerals, it can result in fatique, weak bones or poor immunity causing you to get sick more often and leave you more susceptible to disease.

Herbs & Botanicals

In the interest of holistic body health, doctors and medical professionals have been prescribing more and more alternative routes to modern medicine for less serious of medical problems. Many people take herbs and botanicals as home remedies for a number of medical issues. St. John’s wort, for example, has been know to treat certain symptoms of depression. In ways of aromatherapy, lavender can assist in managing the symptoms of anxiety or sleep problems. Never tried these kinds of healers? Do your research and ask around, you may just find that one of them works for you!

Sports Nutrition

Sports nutrition supplements cover a wide-range of things all with the similar goal of improving exercise and athletic performance for people who want to focus on advance their fitness goals to the next level. Some of the more popular items here are creatine, protein, caffeine and specialty products that contain a mix of these ingredients. In regards to creatine, whey protein and caffeinated preworkout mixes, there are literally thousands on the market that contain different varieties and flavors. However, knowing the right one to take for certain outcomes may require some digging. If you belong to a gym, talk to one of the trainers and see what they think. Trainers are generally well-versed in supplementation so they’re always a good go to.

Weight Loss

Here it is, probably the most popular one, weight loss supplements. Again, these are probably the most sought out and popular type of supplement due to many people’s fitness goals concerning weight loss and dieting. In 2020, sales for weight loss supplements sold $6.5 billion in sales and it keeps rising each year. The one thing about these types of supplements are they can be very helpful but they can be very dangerous too if used incorrectly. In regards to proper dosage, always read the label and/or consult your doctor. Another thing to keep in mind, you shouldn’t rely on weight loss pills and powders by themselves, you need to be eating a regular, healthy diet and not neglecting getting in your full calories a day.

Energy Drinks

Red Bull, 5-hour energy, Monster, Rockstar….the list goes on and on. Marketed and promoted to increase your energy, these can’s of liquid speed are designed to enhance mental alertness and boost your physical performance. These are the most popular dietary supplement next to multivitamin’s with men between the ages of 18-34 consuming the most and teens ages 12-17 coming in second. There are safety concerns however when it comes to the consuming of energy drinks:

  • From 2007 to 2011, energy drink related ER visits doubles with 1 in 10 patients having to be hospitalized.
  • 25% of college students consume with alcohol and binge-drink more often than students who don’t mix drinking habits.
  • In 2011, 42% of ER visits of energy drink related ER visits involved mixing alcohol or drugs with these beverages.

It is important that you are following the guidelines when consuming these types of drinks because they weren’t manufactured and meant to be mixed with drugs, alcohol or any other type of dangerous substance. For more information regarding safe consumption of energy drinks and other related information, log onto the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at www.nccih.nih.gov

So there you have it, just a little information on supplements, what they are, what they’re utilized for and so on and so on. What are your thoughts on supplements? Have you tried them and they backfired on you? Have they taken your workouts to the next level? As always, drop a comment below and let’s begin a dialogue on this topic!

If you would like a specific topic to be covered in this blog or have any ideas for future posts, please email me at j.schessler@pghwellnesscoach.com! Have an inspiring day!

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John Schessler, Jr. is a Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is also writer, actor and host of his podcast, “ManAlive!”, available on Apple and Spotify Podcasts. Please email all comments and inquires to j.schessler@pghwellnesscoach.com.

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