By Sarah Bangs, FoodScience Corporation
With so many products on the market, figuring out which supplements you should be taking can feel impossible. However, if you take a deep dive into your diet and eating habits, you’ll learn that it can be easier.
Given the state of nutrients in our soil, supplementing our modern diets with additional vitamins and minerals has become essential to living a healthy lifestyle. We know that we need to take supplements; we don’t know which ones. The answer isn’t cut-and-dry, and it takes evaluating everything that goes into your stomach to know which supplements you should be taking.
Supplements Most People Should Be Taking
When evaluating supplements, more isn’t necessarily better. Taking a supplement that has 3,000% of your recommended daily value of vitamin C won’t make you extra healthy. It will only make your urine exceptionally high in vitamin C. To give your body what it needs, the first step is to seek out a high-quality multivitamin that provides a wide variety of high-quality nutrients in reasonable amounts.
Diet plays heavily in understanding which supplements you should be taking. Someone who eats a lot of red meat will require less iron than someone whose diet does not contain many iron sources. Likewise, someone who eats a lot of fish needs less omega 3s than a person who doesn’t.
The American diet is not heavy in sources of important omega 3s like DHA and EPA. Most Americans could benefit from an omega 3 supplement.* On top of providing brain and cardiovascular support, omega 3s support the production of “good” cholesterol (HDL) and may help lower the production of “bad” cholesterol (LDL).*
Americans also aren’t consuming enough probiotics, which have been linked to immune system health and are a fundamental addition to anyone’s diet.* Too often, we find ourselves depleting the healthy bacteria in our GI tract without providing our bodies with the nutrients needed to replace that bacteria. Supplements like omega 3s and probiotics can help get our bodies back on track.*
Essential Vitamins Everyone Needs
For anyone with a skin tone that doesn’t absorb sunlight well, vitamin D is an essential supplement. However, there aren’t a lot of great food sources that provide vitamin D, and those living in the northern hemisphere don’t get enough of it from the sun. It can be combined with vitamin K and calcium to help with absorbency.*
Vitamin C is another necessary addition for immune system support.* That said, It has antioxidant properties recognized by FDA that help to remove damaging free radicals in your body. * While it is important for immune system health, it isn’t something that you can take a lot of once you are already not feeling well and expect much of an effect. Instead, you should find ways to incorporate Vitamin C into your daily diet whether by means of citrus fruits or a dietary supplement.
Finally, one of the most prominent needs for supplements for the average person is magnesium. It’s great for nervous system support and muscle health, and it also supports melatonin production, which acts as a sleep regulator.*
Supplements for Vegans and Vegetarians
Iron is an essential supplement for those eating a plant-based diet. Iron is found in spinach and beans, but the most significant food source for iron is red meat. Because of the lack of meat in a vegetarian diet, they are more susceptible to the results of low iron levels.
While B-family vitamins are excellent supplements for everyone, they are a necessity for vegans and vegetarians. B12 is especially essential as it’s only sourced from animals, like low iron levels. A lot of cereal is fortified with B vitamins, but a supplement containing plenty of B vitamins is a welcome addition to any vegetarian or vegan diet.
Supplements That Most Women Should be Taking
Women who are of menstruating age should consider increasing their calcium and iron intake because the menstrual cycle leeches the body of these vitamins. While there are some vegetarian sources of calcium and iron, women who eat a vegetarian diet may especially want to consider taking calcium and iron supplements.
Similar to vegans and vegetarians, pregnant women and women who are planning a pregnancy should also be adding B vitamins to their diet. Explicitly, they should be incorporating folate, which is readily available in all prenatal vitamins. Folate is important for fetal central nervous system development.* It is essential throughout pregnancy, but especially in the first few weeks, when many women do not even know they are pregnant yet. This is why it is important for women planning to become pregnant to consume sufficient folate in their diet. Giving your baby the best fuel that they need starts with feeding it plenty of folate and other methylated B vitamins.
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Essential Supplements for Healthy Aging
Our bodies are in a constant state of evolution as they age. An unfortunate reality is that once we arrive in our late 20s, our bone health begins to go into maintenance mode. That means our bones start to lose their reserves of calcium.
The best way to offset this is by consuming a calcium supplement, which is absorbed easier in conjunction with vitamin D. An A-D-K supplement will contain ample amounts of both of these vitamins for optimal absorption and bone health.* Weight resistance exercises have also been proven to support bone health as we age.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for determining your ideal supplement intake, but it’s crucial to figure out which supplements you should be taking. If you aren’t getting your nutrients from your food, especially as you age and your portions begin to shrink, you will need to fill your nutritional gaps with supplements. Being aware of what you eat is the key to making sure you are getting the nutrients you need—and to tailoring a dietary system that fits you like a glove.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.