What do you think of when you think of supplements? Maybe that extra stuff that bodybuilders take. Or that multivitamin your doctor put you on when you were pregnant?
Most people think that if they’re eating a pretty healthy diet complete with fruits, vegetables and macronutrients like good fats and proteins, then they don’t need to think about supplementation. Spoiler: that’s not true.
Here’s the simple truth: Adding in extra vitamins and minerals is not just for pregnant women or bodybuilders, we all need a little additional support to optimize our health and bodily processes.
I’m going to share why there are so many vitamins and minerals missing from our diets, the benefits of dietary supplements and the best ways to take them to optimize absorption.
We know that supplementing can be a huge help when it comes to maximizing healthy bodily processes like methylation- but what about the other reasons?
Poor Soil Quality
Because conventional and even most organic farmers plant crops over and over again in the same soil, it eventually becomes depleted of minerals. That means the food they grow isn’t as rich in vitamins and minerals, which affects us when we eat it.
The other problem with our food system is that most fruits and vegetables have a long way to travel before they reach your grocery store. This means that they are harvested when they’re not quite ready and mature in boxes on the road. Have you ever tasted a tomato straight off the vine? It doesn’t even resemble what you’ll usually find at the store, and that’s because it needs that time to mature and turn into a nutrient dense and tasty food.
Many of us have consumed antibiotics, birth control pills or chlorinated water that kills off the friendly bacteria in our gut. This imbalance of good bacteria in the small intestine makes it harder for us to break down and absorb the nutrients we need. Then there’s the food sensitivities that are other irritants that can lead to leaky gut syndrome, further damaging our ability to break down and absorb nutrients.
Poor Eating Habits
And no, I don’t mean chowing down on chips and cakes all day. This is a more simple (and common) problem that faces even the healthiest of eaters. If you don’t chew your food well you will not get the nutrition you need. That’s because digestion starts in the mouth before continuing on to the stomach. Chew slowly, turn off the TV and enjoy your meal with a little intention.
Some medications are also responsible for stopping your body from absorbing the nutrition it needs. Diuretics can deplete your body of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Then there’s the proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux which can cause a deficiency in vitamin B12. Statins which are commonly prescribed for high cholesterol lowers your body’s production of Co-Q10 which our cells need to produce energy (1). These are just a few of the more common examples, but if you’re on long term medication do a little research because there may be side effects not listed.
This is the biggie affecting just about all of us, and in a few different ways. When we are stressed out, which could even mean eating on the go, our sympathetic nervous system is turned on. That’s the mode they call “fight or flight”. When we’re relaxed and at peace, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated. That’s the “rest and digest” mode and we need this to be active so we can digest food, absorb nutrients and do cellular repair.
That leads me to my next point. Our bodies have to battle more environmental and food toxins than ever, which means oxidative stress to our cells. This means we need to supplement with more antioxidants just to do the necessary detox and repair our bodies need.
But if you want a basic overview of the supplements I think are the most helpful, keep reading because I’ve shared my top eight list of dietary supplements below.
Our modern day food supply not only lacks in vital vitamins and minerals, but it’s also loaded with a ton of toxic junk like herbicides, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. This junk causes adverse reactions in the body and poor methylation.
Methylation is the key to healthy aging and one of the ways we can maximize methylation and keep our bodily processes working at optimal function is by supplementing. If you are an average American (possibly even an above average healthy American), you are most likely suffering from one of the 8 factors that negatively impact methylation. Poor methylation is one of the main reasons we should be supplementing! The key to healthy aging is optimal methylation.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, these are the 8 factors that adversely affect methylation:
- Genetics: 20% of people are genetically predisposed to high homocysteine
- Poor Diet: certain compounds (animal protein, sugar, coffee, saturated fat, alcohol) can deplete folate and important B vitamins and raise homocysteine levels
- Smoking: carbon monoxide inactivates vitamin B6
- Malabsorption: digestive diseases, aging, and food allergies can reduce nutrient absorption
- Reduced stomach acid: caused from aging and other conditions decreases absorption of vitamin B12
- Medications: Acid blockers, oral contraceptives, HCTZ, Dilantin, and methotrexate can all affect levels of B vitamins
- Conditions: hypothyroidism, cancer, pregnancy, kidney failure
- Toxic Exposure: some toxins interfere with vitamin production
Which Supplements Are Most Important?
Everyone is different. We all have different genes that allow us (or restrict us) from being able to detox, absorb, and utilize important nutrients. But the bottom line is, with all of the environmental toxins and sometimes inevitable toxins from our food supply/lifestyle, we all need to detox.
This is an advanced cellular detoxification kit with scientifically proven herbs and detox factors for deep cleansing. Did you know that your body utilizes specific nutrients better at certain times during the day? This kit makes it easy. It will remove disease-causing toxins allowing you to access more energy and higher levels of health and wellbeing. What you’re getting:
- Glutathione Boosting Factors:
- Magnetic Toxic Binding Factors
- Membrane Regeneration Caps
- Methylation Donor Caps
- Mitochondrial Energy Boosting Caps
This is the ultimate detoxification package for better brain performance. It works to remove brain fog, produce laser focus, crystal clear mental clarity, and activate high performance. What you get:
- Brain Detoxification Capsules
- Brain Multimineral capsules
- Methylation Donor Caps
- Glutathione Boosting Factors
- Magnetic Toxic Binding Factors
Detoxing is the first step in allowing your body to clear out, function properly, and absorb important supplements. Below are supplements to consider introducing to your daily life for optimal health.
Fish Oil or Omega-3 Fatty Acids
No one can deny the power of omega-3s. They are powerful anti-inflammatories and we need all the help we can get in that department. Inflammation is a big cause of disease in the body, and as a society we are more inflamed than ever. This is because western diets tend to be packed with omega-6 fatty acids which are inflammatory and sorely lacking in omega-3s (3). Another benefit of fish oils is that they protect the brain and lower cholesterol.
Cod liver oil is a great choice because it is also packed with highly absorbable vitamin A and D. Check your labels to see if it is from sustainably wild caught fish and certified. Another option, which is a more sustainable choice and less likely to spoil, is krill oil. You can take these any time of day, but watch out your breath may be a little fishier than normal so maybe before you go to bed is a better option than first thing in the morning.
I have to include magnesium on my list of supplements because it is such a crucial mineral for the body. In fact, it is responsible for over 300 processes like nerve impulses, metabolism and bone formation. Unfortunately, most of us are a little deficient in magnesium which can lead to symptoms like anxiety, muscle cramps or spasms and insomnia. So if you’re noticing any of these, try a magnesium supplement and see how quickly that turns around.
Many people choose to take it right before bed because it makes them sleep so well. Bonus is that it will help move your bowels, but cut back your dose if you experience any digestive discomfort. Magnesium chelate and magnesium glycinate are both highly absorbable and magnesium citrate has the most laxative effect (4).
Keeping your gut bacteria healthy is key! Because there are so many things out there killing the bacteria in our guts, we could all use some help. Introducing probiotic supplements into your daily life will allow your good gut bacteria to flourish AND your vitamins and minerals to be properly absorbed.
Good bacteria in the gut is crucial for immunity, mood, and some argue even fertility. Things like birth control, antibiotics and chlorinated water can destroy those good ones and add a diet high in carbohydrates and sugars will feed the bad bacteria in your gut, causing illness.
To repopulate your gut start with a good healthy diet rich in fiber, fruits and veggies, good fats and proteins and avoid simple starches and carbohydrates. But include a good probiotic too. Make sure you choose one that has been 3rd party certified to contain the cultures it states on the label. And choose one with a variety of strains that has at least a billion in number. Many of these will die on their way to your intestines, so you want the odds to be in your favor. Taking your probiotic on an empty stomach about 20-30 minutes before a meal will help them survive because stomach acid is lower then.
People spend most of their time inside these days, and even when they’re out they avoid the sun like the plague. I know we all need to be aware of skin cancer, but vitamin D from the sun is incredibly important for our health. It’s not really a vitamin at all, but a hormone that is important for immunity, helping the bones absorb calcium and nerve health.
The best way to get it is from the sun. Lighter skinned people may only need to be out for 20-30 minutes before maxing out on vitamin D. If you have dark skin that means more sun protection and therefore, less possibility of absorbing enough vitamin D. In that case, or if you live in a place with little sun or spend a lot of time indoors you may want to supplement.
But do supplements work? Well, a study done on postmenopausal women showed that doses larger than 400 IU/ds of vitamin D could reduce fractures by up to 20% (5).
Including more B vitamins in your diet is crucial for energy. Research shows that up to 28% of the population is deficient (6). Vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk because B12 comes primarily from animal products. Deficiency could lead to anemia, nerve issues and fatigue.
Get a sublingual B12 and take it in the morning to improve energy for your day. It can be taken on an empty stomach or with food. Good food sources to find vitamin B12 is cheese (go for raw!). Other sources include fish & eggs (B12), sunflower seeds (B6), beans & walnuts (B6 and folate), whole grains (folate).
Simple rules of thumb for most people:
- Vitamin B12: 1 or 2 mg daily of oral vitamin b12
- Vitamin B6: 2-5 mg a day
Who Can Benefit from Supplementing?
The short answer here is, everyone.
Prenatal vitamins differ from a regular multivitamin because pregnant women need extra iron and folate. Iron will support blood building since they are nearly tripling blood volume during pregnancy. And folate will help prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects in the baby. You’ve probably heard of folic acid, but taking the more whole version of folic acid in the form of folate is more easily absorbed by the body.
Apart from what I’ve already shared, supplements for bodybuilding would be things like whey protein or creatine. These benefit people who work out hard in general and need to speed up their recovery time. Whey protein helps to stimulate protein synthesis in muscles and creatine helps to sustain energy during workouts as well help muscles recover faster.
I know this is a lot of information, but hopefully I’ve given you some great ideas of where to start with your new vitamin supplements routine. I’d love to hear from you and if you have any good information about supplementation or brands you use. Leave a comment below and tell me what you and your family are taking!
- Harvard Health (2016.) “Are Your Medications Causing Nutrient Deficiency?” Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/are-your-medications-causing-nutrient-deficiency
- Dr. Mercola (2013). “9 Health Benefits of Fiber.” Retrieved from: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/25/9-fiber-health-benefits.aspx
- Gunnars, Kris (2018). “How to Optimize Your Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio.” Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/optimize-omega-6-omega-3-ratio
- Levy, Jillian (2019). “Should You Be Taking Magnesium Supplements?” Retrieved from: https://draxe.com/magnesium-supplements/
- Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC, Wong JB, et al. Prevention of nonvertebral fractures with oral vitamin D and dose dependency: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169:551-61. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19307517
- Groves, Melissa (2018). “Vitamin B12 Dosage: How Much Should You Take Per Day?” Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-dosage