What Supplements Should You Be Taking?

Posted August 4, 2016 in supplements, multivitamins, probiotics, omega-3s, fish oil, melatonin, Supplement Guide, plant protein powder, greens powder, vegan protein

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*The following are my suggestions based off my education and experience as a health coach and my personal experiences. You should always consult a medical professional before taking a new supplement. A functional medicine doctor can create a supplement program for your unique needs. 

There are so many supplements on the market that choosing what's right for you can be confusing. 

I believe that we're all different and our bodies thrive on different things - one person's food is another person's poison. You may have to experiment a bit with your supplement routine, and your supplement routine may change over time as you age. 

But finding supplements that work for you doesn't have to be hard. Here's my guide to buying the best supplements...

Your Daily Supplement Guide

Multivitamin - Four out of five people don't get the recommended amount of nutrients and vitamins through food alone. Taking a multivitamin is like nutritional insurance. 

But those hard-packed vitamins that you find at the drug store aren't going to cut it. Our bodies can't break down those vitamins and absorb the nutrients in them. You must take a multivitamin that is bioavailable, meaning your body can break down the vitamin and absorb all the nutrients. 

The multi that I take is bioavailable, creates a balance by containing just enough vitamins and nutrients (not too much) and contains a proprietary spice blend for added antioxidants.

Probiotic - There are millions of microbes living in the body, many in the stomach and intestines. Things like taking antibiotics, eating processed food, eating high sugar food, stress, lack of sleep and breathing toxins can shift the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut.

When there is too much bad bacteria in the gut, we experience things like weakened immune system, skin issues, weight gain, moodiness, fatigue, feeling bloated after meals, feeling constipated or experiencing intense cravings. 

To increase the good bacteria in the gut, we can eat probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir and raw honey, and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. 

But it can be difficult to eat enough fermented and probiotic-rich foods. I, personally, don't like sauerkraut or anything pickled, I only eat yogurt occasionally and I drink kombucha a few times a month (I only buy it when it's on sale). 

Also, the foods that improve the microbial makeup of the digestive system varies from person to person. 

So, really, everyone should be taking a probiotic supplement because it can be hard to get enough probiotics from food. 

When you purchase a probiotic, make sure that it has at least 25 billion CFUs per capsule and that it can survive passage through the stomach by resisting gastric acidity. 

Omega-3 Fish Oil - The Harvard School of Public Health says that low omega-3 intake ranks as the eighth greatest preventable cause of death. Getting enough omega-3's through food isn't possible for the majority of us. So taking a supplement is the best option. 

Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, which come from certain fish, are crucial to your overall health. Omega-3's can help lower levels of depression, lower inflammation to improve asthma, reduce symptoms of ADHD, help protect against Alzheimer's disease and dementia and lower levels of triglycerides (blood fat). 

Omega-3's also help reduce stiffness and joint pain, and can help with arthritis. I've noticed a huge difference in my joints since I started taking a fish oil supplement. As a runner and group fitness instructor, I was experience a lot of joint stiffness and pain. I also have early onset arthritis in my cervical spine. So taking an omega-3 supplement now is incredibly important. I don't want to have intense pain and stiffness when I'm older. 

When you purchase a fish oil, you want to make sure third party independent testing has been done to verify label claims, contaminants and oxidation. Having a five star rating from the International Fish Oil Standards Program means the supplement is the best you can get. 

Many people experience upset stomach when taking a fish oil supplement. An ultra concentrated fish oil will reduce upset stomach. 

Your Optional Supplement Guide

Protein Powder - Many people can get all their protein needs met through food. But some of us need a boost. When you purchase protein powder, I suggest finding something that has very few ingredients, no artificial ingredients and no added sugar.

I also recommend using a plant-based protein powder. A plant-based protein powder will be free of growth hormones and antibiotics that are found in animal proteins (whey protein powder), it is often easier to digest and it's better for the environment because it takes more water, energy and fuel to produce animal products. 

Greens Powder - Most of us don't get the recommended servings of vegetables each day, especially greens. Green vegetables are packed with micronutrients and antioxidants. 

Using a greens powder is a super easy way to get in more greens. You just mix it with water or add it to your smoothie. 

A lot of greens powders taste…earthy. I recommend finding one that tastes good so that you'll use it consistently. 

Melatonin - Melatonin is a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Levels of melatonin begin to rise in the evenings and drops in the early morning hours. Light affects how much melatonin your body produces. 

If you are on your device or computer late into the evening, your body may not produce enough melatonin and you could have sleep problems. I suggest putting your screen away at least an hour before you go to bed. But if you're working late and can't get away from your screen (and have trouble sleeping), you could try a melatonin supplement. 

Melatonin supplements could also help with jet lag, insomnia, seasonal affective disorder, people who work night shifts or for people who experience headaches. 

Multivitamin // Probiotic // Omega-3 Fish Oil // Protein Powder // Greens Powder // Melatonin 

Sources:

WebMD: Fish Oil

WebMD: Melatonin

WebMD: Probiotics

Mind Body Green: Myths About Plant Protein Powder

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