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We decode the confusing world of supplements.

Protein shakes, pre-workout pills, electrolytes, fish oil, multivitamins. The Australian supplement industry has boomed in the past five years, and rakes in $1.6 billion annually according to industry research by IBISWorld. But are any of these magic pills and powders worth your money? If so, which ones?

Let me start with a disclaimer: you don’t need vitamin and mineral supplements if you fuel your body properly with a variety of good quality, nutrient-dense foods. Many supplements make grand claims but can be expensive and over-hyped, or not well-absorbed by the body. However, certain athletes and fitness fanatics training intensely may benefit from adding supplements (not replacing real food) to their diets.

If you’ve ever pushed your body to its limits training for a distance event like a marathon, or playing sport at a high level, you will know one of the challenges of fitting intense training around a full-time job, family, and social life, is finding time to prepare and balance the right foods. Some supplements can help here – shaving time off food prep, boosting recovery, adding much-needed calories and optimising muscle regeneration. They can be useful for active people who require high energy intakes, people with allergies who are lacking micronutrients, or those who eliminate one or more food groups from their diet (coeliac, vegan or vegetarian).

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