There are a lot of supplements out there right now and with all the different brands, marketing, ingredients and everything else it can be really confusing. I wanted to share with you the best daily supplements that I think you should know about and provide you with an overview of which supplements I take and why. This is geared towards general health and wellness and is not designed to be a blog post for a specific health condition. It is always best to work with a practitioner one on one to develop a protocol for your needs.
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What You Need to Be Aware of When It Comes to Supplements:
Before you start taking any type of supplement it is always best to research the brand and the particular formula of the supplement. For example, many women take folic acid thinking this is the same as folate, but it is not. Folic acid is not naturally found in food and doesn’t cross the placenta (many women take this when pregnant) and the conversion of folic acid to folate is not great. Folate on the other hand, is a natural B vitamin occurring in fermented foods and green leafy veggies. This also means it is much more bioavailable in your body, which is the beauty of whole foods in the first place. However, with that being said, due to the way our food is grown and the conditions of the soil, our food is also lacking in many vitamins and minerals. This means that we are typically not getting enough from the food we eat, even if we eat a whole foods diet and why supplementing has become necessary.
If you want to check out what a whole foods approach looks like, check out my free meal plan guide!
The best way for you to know which supplements to take is to have blood work done and to work with a nutritional practitioner to determine if your levels are low. You could also take a high quality multivitamin along with a few other vitamins and minerals that most people are usually deficient in.
Why Quality Matters:
When it comes to choosing the best daily supplements, quality matters. If you are currently shopping for your vitamins in the same place you buy your pharmaceutical drugs (i.e. a pharmacy) chances are you aren’t getting the best quality. And if you are getting something that is significantly cheaper than something else, you should be wary of why that is. As with food and anything else, quality matters.
Some things I advise people to look for when it comes to finding the best daily supplements to take is to look at the vitamin itself, is it in the correct form that your body would recognize and be able to use? If not, it won’t work very well.
What to Look For When Shopping For A Supplement:
Look for natural forms of the vitamin rather than synthetic: Generally speaking your body will be able to use something that is natural rather than what is found in a laboratory.
Look at the other ingredients: Other than the actual vitamin/mineral, look at the other ingredients too. A lot of the time, the cheaper product will use fillers, preservatives, sweeteners, artificial colours, binders, gluten or lactose in them. If you have allergies, always look at the part that says: this does NOT contain on the label.
Third Party Testing: Has the supplement been tested for purity and efficacy by a third party? This is an extra form of insurance to know that the product you are looking at has been tested for quality purposes.
Look at the amounts: Just as you are scanning the ingredients to see what is (and isn’t) in your supplement, it is also important to note the amount of the vitamin/mineral. If it isn’t high enough (if you are taking it for a therapeutic dose) then it won’t work in the way you want and need.
The Best Daily Supplements You Need to Know About:
These are the supplements that I find most people are deficient in.
Vitamin D: For those of us living in a colder climate making it harder to get adequate vitamin D for several months out of the year, it can be important to ensure we are getting enough. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is responsible for immune regulation, absorption of minerals such as calcium, and the maintenance of strong bones. If you want to see if your levels are optimal, it is a good idea to get it checked through blood work. You can read more about our need for adequate sun exposure and vitamin D over here.
Omega 3: The Standard American Diet is definitely lacking in healthy omega 3 fats and as such we are generally consuming more omega 6 fats. Unless you are eating oily fish several times a week chances are you are not getting enough omega 3’s. Even healthy oils like flax oil will not be converted to EPA and DHA which is the form recognized by our bodies. Choose a high quality fish oil, cod liver oil or algae based omega 3 if you don’t consume fish. Omega 3’s are absolutely necessary when dealing with inflammation in the body.
B Vitamins: Pretty much anyone dealing with stress (who isn’t) is most likely depleted in several B vitamins. A well rounded B complex vitamin is ideal to include in your supplement regimen. The B vitamins consist of B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin) and B12. Each B vitamin has a different effect on your body on a cellular level and can impact your health in a major way if you are deficient. For example, if you find that you are deficient in vitamin B6 you can experience depression and confusion. A lack of B12 and you may experience fatigue or anemia.
If you are dealing with low iron, I suggest trying out MegaFood Blood Builder which has great studies behind it that show its effectiveness, plus it doesn’t make you constipated and you can take it on an empty stomach.
Magnesium: This mineral is one of those ones that does A LOT. It is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood-glucose control and blood pressure regulation. It is also required for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione responsible for boosting our immune system and fighting inflammation. This mineral is mega important for helping relax our muscles and nerves, I like taking the Calm brand of magnesium before bed to help with relaxation and sleep.
I also like this supplement from CanPrev.
Probiotics: I am sure you have heard by now of the importance of gut health. Our gut is like our second brain and the connection between gut health and our mood, skin and overall health is strong with more and more research coming out showing these links. Probiotics are great at helping keep us regular, prevent bloating and strengthening your immune system (80% of your immune system is in your gut). Things like stress, antibiotics, over consumption of sugar and exposure to pollutants can all impact our this delicate ecosystem living in our gut. Eating fermented foods and prebiotic rich foods is important, but so too is taking a high quality probiotic.
I hope this was a helpful starting point for your health and wellness journey. It is always best to work with your own team of practitioners to develop a personalized approach. This guide is a starting point and intended to provide a general guideline on the best daily supplements.
Don’t forget to check out my free meal prep guide to see how easy and efficient meal planning and prep can be.
Any questions on supplements? Let me know in the comments!