Everyday supplements you should actually be taking
As a nutritionist, I'm frequently asked about supplements. Indeed, it seems no matter where I look there are always people claiming their brands of supplements are the key to weight loss, increased energy, and restored health. It's no wonder my clients (and random strangers!) want to know about them!
But it's also true that it drives me absolutely crazy when people think they can supplement their way to optimal health without making changes to their nutrition.
Let's set the record set. Supplements are just that - supplemental. They are designed to fill in the gaps in a healthy diet and lifestyle, not to play the primary supporting role to your health!
And while I will never be the nutritionist to sell you a specific protein shake, or multivitamin pack, or $500/month collection of "essentials," there are a few key supplements I take daily and recommend to most of my clients.
Before I tell you what they are, though, let me say that our bodies are all unique. So while these supplements are excellent general recommendations, it's always best to consult with your own heath care professional to find what works best for you (and if you're looking for a nutritionist, you can schedule a complimentary consultation with me here).
Okay, let's jump in!
Supplements for everyday
Why it's important:
Fish oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which provide anti-inflammatory benefits and support optimal brain function and healthy aging.
In particular, the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids in the diet is important, as omega 3 fatty acids are more anti-inflammatory, and omega 6 fatty acids are more pro-inflammatory. We need both types of fatty acids, but in order to achieve optimal wellness, the ratio of omega 6:omega 3 should be less than 4:1. In the Standard American diet high in processed food, the average ratio ranges from 15:1 to 20:1, yikes!
Optimize omega 6:omega 3 ratios by limiting omega 6 oils including sunflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and soybean oil. Opt for pasture raised eggs and meat, and wild caught salmon, as animal products from animals raised in natural & sustainable ways have better omega 6:omega 3 ratios.
Also, eat plant foods rich in ALA (a plant-based omega 3 fatty acid) such as walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
Brands to try:
It is important to use high quality supplements, but especially important for fish oil. Fish oil that gives you "fish burps" or has a funny aftertaste has gone rancid, and may actually do more harm than good in the body. I have found Jarrow and Nordic Naturals to be good quality brands.
Why it's important
Vitamin D plays a critical role in our health. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as aid in decreasing muscle aches and pains, boosting mood, and even helping to prevent autoimmune diseases and cancer! And yet, the majority of people simply do not get enough vitamin D.
Food & lifestyle first
Though food sources of vitamin D do exist (in particular fatty wild fish), our main source of vitamin D is good ol' sunshine! Optimize your vitamin D by spending 10 to 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen each day.
To assess your vitamin D levels, have your physician check your 25 OH vitamin D. Optimal levels are 100 - 160 nmol/L or 40 - 65 ng/ml. If you find yourself low, you can supplement with 5,000 to 10,000 iu of vitamin D3 (the biologically available form of vitamin D) daily for 3 months, so long as you are under the supervision of your doctor. For maintenance, supplementing with 2,000 - 4,000 iu of vitamin D3 daily is a good option.
Brands to try
To reiterate, it is important to make sure you are taking the biologically active form of vitamin D, which is vitamin D3. Brands I like include Jarrow, Natural Factors, and Pure Encapsulations
Why it's important
Recent science is uncovering more and more about the amazing connection between the 3 pound "organ" mass of bacteria in the gut (i.e. the microbiome) and human health, linking an unbalanced microbiome to all sorts of health issues (including autoimmune issue, obesity, chronic fatigue, dementia, and more)! Bottom line: when the bacteria in our gut ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!
We must support the healthy bacteria while discouraging the bad bugs (including parasites and yeast) through proper nutrition and lifestyle. In particular, eliminate refined carbs and sugar and other processed junk foods, and eat plenty of whole, fresh foods, especially veggies and fruits (the fiber helps feed the good bugs)!
Brands to try
First things first, different strains of probiotics have different uses when it comes to addressing various health concerns. It's important to do your research on which strains will be effective in helping your current health concerns.
That being said, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is a highly researched strain that supports overall digestive health as well as immune function.
Culturelle is my go-to probiotic containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, and is relatively affordable and shelf stable!
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