From eating right, to sleeping well, to staying active everyday, we do lots to keep ourselves healthy and in good shape. However, we may be missing one key component in our daily routine that is keeping us from reaching optimal wellness: taking the right supplements.
Remember the Flintstones tablets your parents made you take as a child? Maybe they weren’t the best choice, but your parents definitely had the right idea. Many of us assume that by eating a nutritious diet we get all the required daily nutrients our body needs to function properly. Although a healthy diet is the starting point, many of us are still deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.
Even by incorporating fruits and veggies in our meals, we may not be getting enough of these vitamins and minerals simply due to the depletion of essential nutrients in our soil. Our agriculture is not what it used to be; from genetically modified organisms to herbicides, pesticides and increased radiation, the quality of our soil and agriculture has decreased significantly, affecting the amount of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium our bodies absorb. This is why eating organic as much as possible is highly recommended to avoid dealing with the side effects of these chemicals and to provide ourselves with a healthier range of products.
From Vitamin A to Zinc, there is a supplement for every vitamin and mineral. Confused on where to start? Vitamin deficiency is dependent on one’s lifestyle, nutrition, genetics and health conditions, With that said, there are five specific supplements that I believe everyone should be taking. What are the “Big Five”?
- Vitamin D
- High quality protein supplement
Already taking these? Be aware of the brand. The quality of the supplements you are taking is a key factor in how your body will absorb them. Unfortunately many traditional drug-store brand vitamins contain fillers and binders and may have lower quality raw products. Investing a top-grade supplement can make all the difference when it comes to your health. Making sure you take a high-potency multivitamin or multimineral formula may help ensure the presence of those essential nutrients necessary for thousands of metabolic reactions.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of the “Big Five”:
All vitamins are required by our bodies for survival as they control the chemical reactions within the body to convert food into energy and living tissue. They are either water soluble which must be taken daily since they are not stored in the body (Vitamin C and all of the B Vitamins) or fat soluble, which are stored in the body (A, D, E, and K).
Vitamins are vulnerable to heat, light, and chemical agents, so food preparation, processing, and storing it must be appropriate to preserve vitamins so you get the nutritional value out of the meal – thus investing in a high quality supplement insures appropriate development and preservation of the supplement itself.
Omega-3s are an essential fatty acid that we do not get enough of in our north american diet, and therefore it is essential to supplement for it. Contrary to omega-6 and omega-9 – which are abundant in our foods – the lack of omega-3 creates a distortion in the omega-3 to 6 ratio, causing issues such as inflammation, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Benefits of including a high quality omega-3 supplement to your diet include:
- Improved Cardiovascular health
- Improved Brain Function
- Promotes Joint health
- Balances Blood sugar metabolism
- Provides Energy
- Aids in Pregnancy and child Development
- Acts as an Anti inflammatory
This supplement may be the most important for helping improve immunity issues, digestive discomfort, and even boost mood. There are 100 trillion bacteria in the gut including 800 species 7000 strains making up our microbiome. Our gut plays a vital role in our overall well being, from proper absorption of nutrients, to proper elimination of wastes, to regulation of allergens, and even production of neurotransmitters – it is said to be our second brain. That is why taking care of our gut flora is so necessary. To start, a healthy diet low in refined sugar, carbs, GMOs and processed foods and high in fermented, organic whole foods will help keep the gut happy, however a probiotic supplement will help it flourish. Benefits of a high-quality probiotic include:
- Helps with digestion
- Aids in Nutrient absorption
- Reduces cholesterol
- Benefits the immune system
- Benefits the intestinal wall
- Detoxifies liver
- Increases Production of serotonin which 80% of it is produced in the gut
4) Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an often-overlooked, under-consumed nutrient that plays a major role in your overall health. Statistics show 85% of north americans are deficient in Vitamin D, due to lack of proper sun exposure and poor diet. Adequate vitamin D intake is crucial for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus absorption, maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, and is suggested to supply a protective effect against multiple diseases and conditions such as cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. It also plays a key role in hormones production, neurotransmitter secretion, and and facilitating normal immune system function. While vitamin D is not naturally plentiful in many foods, oily fish like salmon and trout, as well as dairy, eggs, plants, and fungi all contain varying amounts. Supplementation is extremely important during the winter months, especially when we have limited exposure to sunlight. Try to take in at least 600 IU – 1000 IU per day to get your daily allowance, but since this may be an underestimation, don’t be afraid to go a little bit higher. Consider having your Vitamin D levels tested to determine the correct amount of Vitamin D needed.
Protein is mostly known to be a must for bodybuilders and fitness athletes however, most people could use an extra few grams of protein added to their diet to metabolize carbohydrates better and boost muscle repair. Of course, one of the best ways to get the amount of protein that your diet requires is through whole foods, but as I am sure many would agree, it is not always easy to get all of their protein through whole foods unless you eat large amounts of meats, nuts or legumes throughout the day. Proteins are also used to manufacture hormones, enzymes, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and immune-system components. Without adequate protein, our bodies can’t put together the structures that make up every cell, and tissue. Taking a protein supplement first thing in the morning, alongside your lunch, or right after a workout is when it is most beneficial.
You can choose between whey protein (animal-based) or a plant-based protein such as hemp, rice, or pea protein.
Regardless of your goals, high-quality supplements should be regarded as a foundational part of any nutrition program it’s an essential ingredient for achieving optimal progress in wellness enhancement and performance. If you want to dig deeper, you can watch the replay of my last Webinar: Everything You Need To Know About Vitamins!: Santé!