You’re eating healthy, going to the gym, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. Is that enough? Even if you eat a healthy diet full of nutritious whole foods, chances are, your body is still lacking certain nutrients it may need to perform optimally. Want to get the most out of your healthy habits? Enter, proper supplementation.
It can be difficult to wade through all the supplement hype these days. Every other day there seems to be a new miracle powder or pill. Falling for every daytime tv doctor’s recommendation is likely to leave you with nothing but a lighter wallet. Since there’s so much misinformation out there, here’s a list of seven extensively studied supplements you should be adding to your routine.
Sure, you’ve heard that you should get all your nutrients from the food you eat, but let’s be honest; we don’t all have a profound love for veggies. Even if you stuffed yourself with all the garden goodness you could hold, you still may end up lacking. Today’s soils are not as nutrient rich as they once were, due to mass farming and soil turnover. As a result, the vegetables we now consume also contain fewer nutrients. Fewer nutrients in the soil = fewer nutrients in our food. To make sure that you’re getting your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of the vitamins and minerals your body needs, don’t skip the multivitamin.
By now, you’ve probably heard of good bacteria and bad bacteria. It does seem a little off, I mean, aren’t all bacteria bad? It sure sounds like it, just the word bacteria conjures up images of dirty toilets and gym locker rooms. However, there really are good bacteria and they live in your intestines.
Ew. So gross.
Not really, what would be even grosser is if the bad bacteria took over. See, there are good little guys and there are bad little guys. The good ones keep the bad ones in check, helping out with everything from your digestion to healthy immune system function. There are billions of these bacteria running around down there helping your body absorb nutrients and even assisting in the production of neurotransmitters. To add to their superhero status, these bacteria can help improve metabolism, prevent damage to bodily organs from antibiotic use, and decrease inflammation. Look for one that contains live bacteria and multiple scientifically tested strains.
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil is another powerhouse of benefits and should be included daily. Why? Because it contains beneficial fatty acids, DHA and EPA which most people don’t get enough of from food alone. Maintaining a healthy balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 in the body is critical, and unfortunately, most people are way off. Most processed foods we consume today are extremely high in Omega 6 fats, drastically throwing our bodies out of balance. If we don’t consume enough Omega 3 fats to even this out, that’s where we run into trouble. Omega 3s are responsible for coating your cells, allowing them to better communicate with each other. In doing so, they help increase metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and help the body burn fat for fuel. To see the benefits from fish oil, aim for one to three grams daily of DHA and EPA combined.
4. Vitamin D
Ah, the sunshine vitamin. We all know that going out in the sun helps our bodies produce vitamin D. However, you actually have to expose your skin to UVB rays for this to occur. You wear sunscreen? Not gonna happen. Jeans and sweater? Nope. In order for our skin to synthesize vitamin D, it has to be exposed to the sun long enough to do so. It could happen in as little as 15 minutes while sunbathing in the height of summer, but that also requires foregoing the use of sunscreen. With all the chatter about skin cancer these days, that doesn’t seem very likely. Not to mention, if you live anywhere other than the sunny tropics, it’s pretty likely you’re too far away from the sun to even produce vitamin D during the coldest half of the year. Because of this, a quality vitamin D supplement is necessary. Vitamin D has been the subject of much research, research that has demonstrated its ability to bolster the immune system and prevent disease. It’s also been shown to decrease depression, increase muscular strength, support metabolism and even fight cancer. In order to get enough, aim for 2,000 to 5,000 IUs per day to maintain a healthy level in the blood.
Ever thought you were magnesium deficient? Chances are, you probably don’t get nearly enough of it. Magnesium is involved in over 300 bodily processes and without it, you can be sure these systems aren’t functioning optimally. Did you know that brain levels of serotonin depend directly on magnesium? Want to feel happier? Try some magnesium. The mineral has also been shown to regulate blood sugar levels and calm the nervous system. It allows you to better handle stress and helps the body clear the stress hormone, cortisol. It also helps you achieve a most restful sleep and lower your blood pressure. Recommendation for this vitamin fall in the range of 400 to 1,200 mg per day, or 10 mg per kilogram of body weight. Just make sure to take a high-quality supplement, as the cheaper you go, the more you might be visiting the toilet.
6. Protein Powder
Before you say you don’t lift weights, let’s talk about this one. Yes, you can get all your protein from whole foods, and yes, it’s much easier to do than the other nutrients on this list. However, do you actually keep track of how much protein you consume? The recommendation for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, but experts are now suggesting this may actually be too little. In fact, in a report published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, experts cite the need for more dietary protein, as much as 35 percent of total daily calories. While you could definitely achieve this from eating a variety of animal products, sometimes that just isn’t appealing. Steak or chicken for breakfast? No thanks. So what can you eat to make sure you get enough of this essential nutrient? Enter, protein powder. There are literally dozens of options to choose from ranging from hemp and rice protein to whey and beef. Protein powder is a great way for vegetarians and vegans to get in extra protein, as their diets most definitely don’t include the most protein dense foods. Even if you do like steak and eggs for breakfast, it’s unlikely you’re going to eat it every single morning. Supplementing with protein powder is a quick, easy and effective alternative for busy and active adults.
Creatine makes the list for a number of reasons. First, it is one of the most extensively studied supplements on the market today. Second, it has application beyond the weightlifting world. If you do lift weights, it quite likely you’re already making use of this supplement for its strength and muscle building capabilities. Even if you don’t make it to the gym that often, you can still benefit from this highly useful supplement. Creatine has been shown to help your body’s cells produce more energy. It is involved in the production of ATP, the molecule every cell in your body uses to carry out functioning. It has also shown great promise in the neurological department, restoring brain levels of phosphocreatine. In doing so, it decreases cell death and helps maintain brain function. To add to the list, it has also been shown to help lower blood sugar levels and improve brain function. So even if you don’t lift weights (you should), consider adding creatine to your list of supplements. Try to get three to five grams per day to see maximum benefits.