Should I be taking supplements? If so, what should I take?
I am often asked these questions by clients, by friends, and those I randomly meet when I share my profession. The nutrition information and science out there about supplements can be confusing so honestly, I often ask myself the same question.
I don’t think there is one standard answer for everyone, for I believe everyone is different. We are all unique and have specific needs based on our season of life. For example, I am pregnant right now so I my needs are unique for this season and different than they were last year, when I was focused on healing my body. The supplements I take today look slightly different than they did a year ago.
First and foremost, I really believe when you are eating foods that are whole (anything from God’s good earth or animals that are eating God’s good earth), mainly plants (vegetables, fruits, whole grains), and minimally processed (foods that don’t come in packages and boxes), you should be able to get the majority of your vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, etc. needs each day. Yet there may be times when you may not be able to process or break down the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from your food due to stress, genetics, or health issues so it is essential to take a supplement (or supplements) that is (are) in a form in which you can absorb and use. Again, this is very individual and specific.
To truly answer someone’s question about supplements, I really have to dive into their health history, current health goals, doctor recommendations, and specific life circumstances. But since I do get this question quite frequently, I do have a few supplements I recommend that are pretty common and essential for most people.
1. B complex: For your energy
B vitamins are essential for many functions of your body. They help your metabolism, supply your body with quality energy, support cell growth (which is critical for healing), and boost brain function.
I see many clients who have low levels of one or more of the B vitamins. They come in experiencing everything from fatigue and brain fog to gaining unwanted weight. When they begin supplementing with B vitamins that are in a form their bodies can easily absorb, these clients feel and see a HUGE difference in their energy and mental clarity, as well as helping fuel their weight loss.
Here is a good quality B complex supplement: Boost
2. Vitamin C: For your skin and immunity
For glowing, healthy skin and for a boost in your immunity (essential during this flu season!), Vitamin C is a great supplement to take daily. The recommended daily allowance is between 75 - 90 mg, but you can take between 200 - 500 mg to help protect your immunity. If you take more (for example: taking Emergen-C during cold/flu season), it usually does not cause harm because it is a water-soluble vitamin, which means your body will eliminate the excess.
Here is a good quality Vitamin C supplement: Garden of Life Vitamin C
3. Vitamin D: For your bones and brain
We don’t always give our bones enough attention, that is until we break one, right?! Yet, taking care of our bones is critical to aging gracefully and still being able to function on our own. Vitamin D is key for bone health. It is also key for brain health. It prevents mood disorders, provides immune support, and helps balance hormone levels.
Most of the clients I saw this past year were deficient in Vitamin D. It is safe to bet that most people are low in Vitamin D. Mainly because the best source of Vitamin D is the sun, and we spend much of our days indoors or covered in sunscreen when we do go outside. The recommendation is to take between 400 - 800 IUs of Vitamin D/day, but many people need more than this so I suggest getting your lab values drawn so you can consult with your doctor on exactly how much you may need to take each day.
Here is a good quality Vitamin D supplement: Ortho Molecular Vitamin D
4. Omega 3 supplement: For your heart
Omega 3’s are one of the best nutrients for fighting inflammation, a precursor for most all diseases, especially heart disease and brain disease like Alzheimers. The best way to get Omega 3s in your diet is eating wild caught fish several times/week. Walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds are also high in Omega 3s. That is about it. So if you are not a fish lover or don’t eat seeds/nuts every day, you probably need to supplement Omega 3s, aiming for around 1000 mg/day.
Here is a good quality Omega 3 supplement: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
5. Probiotic supplement: For your gut
Having “good gut bugs” is so important for your overall health. They help your body absorb nutrients, fight infection, boost immunity, restore hormone balance, and improve digestion (helping reduce that awful bloating feeling you may experience after eating). Foods that contain probiotics are yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut (my favorite way to get probiotics from food!), miso, and kombucha.
Every person has different needs for the amount and type of probiotic. I suggest meeting with a health care provider to help figure out the best strains and dosage specifically for you. To start, look for a probiotic with at least 5 strains and has 20 - 50 billion CFUs (colony forming units).
If you are curious what I take every day, I’ve listed my supplements below. I am pregnant so that changes things a bit for me, but overall I have remained pretty consistent with these supplements.
Metagenics Wellness Essentials Pregnancy (contains Vitamin D, Omega 3s, B vitamins)
Whole Foods Vitamin C packet (during this cold/flu season)
Vital Proteins Collagen (I want to make sure I am getting quality protein and collagen in each day for both mine and baby’s health!)
If you have any questions or would like a more detailed nutrition plan that would include helping you figure out the best supplements to take, contact me here!