The 10 Most Important Supplements for Good Health
These nutrients are essential for building your immunity, reducing inflammation, fighting disease, boosting your energy levels, promoting healthy, glowing skin, keeping your digestive system healthy, getting rid of stored fat and building long, sleek muscles.
EFA stands for essential fatty acids. These are the fatty acids that we need to get through our diet because our bodies don’t synthesize them on their own. Of these, Omega-3 and Omega-6 are the most important. They fight inflammation, balance your moods, promote heart health and are essential for proper brain function.
The best whole food sources for Omega-3 and Omega-6 are shellfish and cold-water, wild-caught fish like salmon and haddock, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, hemp oil, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, walnuts and dark, leafy greens. You should include several of these foods in your diet daily and supplement with a good source such as fish oil or krill oil.
Good digestive health is essential to your overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, most people have digestive tracts that are compromised by poor diet (especially a lack of vegetables and healthy fiber) and toxin build-up. We also take far too many antibiotics, which destroy not just bad bacteria, but the good bacteria that live and work in our digestive tracts as well. We need that good bacteria, and we need it to outnumber the bad.
Probiotics are living colonies of good bacteria that keep our digestive systems operating at optimal levels. Be sure you get one that is labeled as being for digestive health and also one that is enteric (specially coated), so that the living bacteria survive your stomach’s natural acids. It’s especially important to take probiotics if you’ve been ill or just finished a round of antibiotics.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals to the body because it’s used for so many of the body’s functions. Magnesium is needed for calcium uptake, protein synthesis, healthy nerve and muscle function, muscle contraction, building healthy bones, regulating blood sugar levels and blood pressure and so much more. Your body even requires magnesium in order to burn glycogen as energy.
The best whole food sources of magnesium are dark green, leafy vegetables, such as kale, collards and spinach, beans such as kidney beans and black beans, nuts (especially almonds) and seeds, and whole grains. You need about 350mg per day. So, if you’re not loading up on these whole food sources, you should be supplementing.
Zinc is another essential mineral that most Westerners get too little of. Zinc is needed for a healthy immune system, to help regulate metabolism, boost immunity and keep your blood sugar levels steady.
The best whole food sources of zinc are red meats and seafood. You can also find it in spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, peas and oats. I strongly recommend that you take a zinc supplement to augment what you’re getting from your diet.
Many people are confused about glutamine and think it’s something you only need to take if you’re a competitive bodybuilder. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Glutamine is the most common essential fatty acid in your body, making up 61% of your muscle tissue. It’s also essential for muscle recovery, delivering nitrogen to your muscles and preventing muscle catabolism and breakdown.
The best whole food sources for glutamine are red meat, poultry, eggs and milk and other dairy products. Wheat, beets, legumes, spinach, parsley and cabbage also contain glutamine, but in much smaller amounts.
Taking a glutamine supplement in addition to eating a variety of these foods is the best way to make sure you have enough of this essential fatty acid. This will help you build that lean, sexy muscle you’re looking for and to keep you from losing muscle when dieting.
6. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is actually a group of pro-hormones or secosteroids that is most important for its use in helping the body to absorb calcium and phosphate. It is absolutely essential for healthy organ function, proper neuromuscular function and healthy bones. It’s been shown to help fight some forms of cancer and to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
The easiest way to get Vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. Unfortunately, the healthy habit of wearing sunblock prevents Vitamin D from being absorbed through the skin. Coupled with the fact that we spend less time outside is one of the reasons that many people are deficient in Vitamin D.
If you’re lactose-intolerant or have just sworn off of dairy, it’s essential that you supplement your diet with a dose of Vitamin D.
7. Greens Drinks
You can’t open a bodybuilding or fitness magazine without seeing at least one ad for some brand of greens drink. But what are they?
Greens drinks are made up of a variety of dark, leafy greens, herbs, fruits and other vegetables. Some drinks have as many as 75 or more whole-food ingredients! You can also find some that have probiotics included in the formula.
There are so many great benefits of greens drinks that I could devote an entire article to them. Very few of us eat enough dark, leafy greens, yet they contain the most antioxidants, vitamins and minerals of almost any other group of foods. When we do eat them, many of us eat only one or two types, which limit the variety of micronutrients we get.
Drinking a greens drink is equivalent to eating dozens of servings of many of these foods in their raw state. It’s like winning the antioxidant lottery and can have an incredible impact of your energy levels, digestive health, metabolism, immune system, problems with inflammation and so much more. I strongly urge you to start your day with a greens drink. You will be amazed at the difference it makes in how you feel and how you look.
8. Vitamin C
If for some reason you were only able to take one vitamin each day, I would advise you to take Vitamin C. Vitamin C is just that important.
Vitamin C is a soluble vitamin, so our bodies don’t store much of it. We have to get enough of it each day through food and supplementation in order to have enough on board.
We use Vitamin C in every single cell of our bodies. Vitamin C is the foundation of all cell building and cell repair, is one of the most important antioxidants used by our immune system and also helps you to lose stored fat. Vitamin C reduces the effects of stress on the body, which lowers the amount of cortisol released into the bloodstream. It also is necessary in order for our bodies to create l-carnitine, the compound that transports stored fat from your tissues (mainly your abs and thighs) to the liver to be turned back into glycogen and burned as fuel.
Some of the best whole food sources for Vitamin C are citrus fruits, pomegranate, berries, spinach, kale and other leafy greens. Even if you get plenty of those foods in your diet, you lose so much C to stress, illness and free radicals that you should be supplementing daily.
9. Digestive enzymes
As we discussed in the section on probiotics, healthy digestion is essential to a every area of health. One of the things that can compromise your digestive system is a deficiency in certain digestive enzymes. Our bodies make the enzymes needed to break down sugar, protein and fat, but we are the only animal that doesn’t produce the enzyme to break down fiber, cellulose and starches. Since we also don’t get enough of those enzymes in our diet, we become deficient.
This may be one of the reasons that we’re seeing so many issues with gluten-sensitivity and gluten-intolerance today. There is more gluten in our wheat now than there was 50 years ago and it’s just more than some of us can process.
Even if you are not gluten-intolerant, taking a digestive enzyme supplement can help you digest starches, fiber and cellulose so that your digestive system is functioning at an optimal level.
While each of these individual supplements is extremely important, if your diet is hit or miss (or you know it’s mostly miss), you really need to take a high-quality multivitamin.
Women on a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and organic dairy and meat will usually get enough of the vitamins and minerals they need each day. But if your diet is an unhealthy one, or if you tend to eat the same 10 foods week in and week out, you are not getting all of the nutrients you need and are probably deficient in several.
A good multivitamin formulated for women is an insurance policy for the time being. But get your diet in order and start feeding yourself properly if you really want to look and feel amazing!
I realize that supplements can be expensive. If your budget is limited, get a multivitamin first, then add one or two supplements a week as you can afford them. Also try to get as much of them as you can from whole foods so that you don’t need to supplement quite so much. But whatever you do, do not go without these extremely important micronutrients.
In light of these supplements being expensive, I can assure you that my great friend Joel at BioTrust has the best quality stuff for a great price! I’ve also provided you with the above link from Prograde.