In an ideal world, we would get all the vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients we need from our diet - but that’s not always the case! Even when we try our best to eat balanced meals and get plenty of fruits and veggies, we don’t always meet our requirements. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can be caused by medication, age, absorption problems, or health conditions.
This is where supplements come in. The Council for Responsible Nutrition published a survey that found that 75% of Americans take a supplement each day. Supplements can help your body get enough nutrients, manage weight, improve sleep, strengthen cognitive abilities, increase physical endurance and even prevent disease.
If you want to reach your health potential and achieve better health and wellness, you may have considered supplements. Unfortunately, deciding what supplements to take can become overwhelming. There are entire stores dedicated to selling supplements! You will find everything from mushroom tinctures to protein powders to an assortment of multivitamins. You know you can’t take them all, so which ones should you take? Well, according to dieticians, there are seven supplements you should be taking for better health and wellness.
This is one of the first supplements you should have. A balanced multivitamin will fill any gaps you may have in your vitamins and minerals. We wrote an entire blog post on why you should be taking a multivitamin because it is just THAT important!
A multivitamin is versatile and suitable for men and women of all ages. By taking a pill each day, you will get your daily dose of all your essential vitamins and minerals. These supplements are often very gentle, and although food can aid in absorption, it isn’t always necessary. Because there are so many ingredients in a multivitamin, your eyes can quickly glaze over the label, and it can be easy to miss fillers that could be added. Be sure to look extra carefully at the label and get a multivitamin that is free of dairy, soy, gluten, and GMOs. If you don’t like taking pills or capsules, you can find multivitamin supplements in liquid form. You can use the dropper, place the liquid on your tongue, or add it to supplements or recipes. This can also be an excellent option for kids and teenagers who struggle with eating vegetables!
- Iron (* if you are low)
People with an iron deficiency can experience a lack of energy, brain fog, headaches, pale skin, tiredness, sores, hair loss, heart palpitations, and more. According to Dietician Eliza Savage, iron supplements are among the top 9 best supplements for essential nutrients, as a deficiency can negatively affect health and wellness. Iron is critical to functioning, development, and cellular growth, yet according to Savage, anemia and low iron levels are common, specifically in women. Many foods are rich in iron, but it can be difficult for some people to absorb the amount they need, which is why some doctors recommend supplementing. A slow-release iron supplement can reduce the common gastrointestinal side effects commonly experienced. Because the iron is released slower, it is easier on your stomach while still giving your body the needed boost.
If you are low in iron, a supplement is much faster at treating the deficiency than diet alone. It is also great at maintaining iron levels in those who are anemic or prone to iron deficiency. Although iron supplements can be life-changing for those who are low, they shouldn’t be taken by everyone. When your iron levels are normal to high, taking a supplement could cause harmful side effects. These side effects can be severe, so you must consult your healthcare professional and get a blood test before taking them.
Protein shakes aren’t just for weightlifters or after the gym. Increasing your daily protein levels can help you lose weight, build muscle mass, increase energy, and, most importantly, help you feel better! Protein is an essential macronutrient that builds muscle, makes hormones and enzymes, and repairs tissue. We need it to function and feel good!
Dieticians recommend women get at least 46 grams and men get 56 grams of protein each day. Unfortunately, the average diet doesn’t meet this. Many people skip breakfast or just have a muffin with their coffee, followed by a salad for lunch, and get most of their protein at dinner. This isn’t enough, but the good news is you can quickly remedy this with a protein shake.
Protein powder is one of the most popular nutritional supplements. There are several different types, including whey, casein, soy, pea, and hemp. Whey is the most popular and is considered the most easily absorbed. It is also a complete protein meaning it also contains all the amino acids the body requires. For those who are vegetarian or vegan, pea protein is an excellent alternative and is a great source of the amino acid arginine.
Probiotics provide your body with beneficial bacteria that strengthen your gut's ecosystem. This, in turn, improves your health and wellness! With a probiotic supplement, you can experience improvements in immune function, digestion, and even skin health. Probiotics can also help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
You don’t need to have digestive issues to benefit from a probiotic. Everyone needs to have a healthy gut, and due to the high amount of sugar in the average American’s diet, our guts aren’t as healthy as they should be. Further, many medications, including the top two most popular drugs in the U.S, can disrupt the gut’s balance.
When you start taking a probiotic, your stomach may feel slightly more active than usual. Although this will go away, you can avoid any potential discomfort by taking it at night. A bonus to taking a probiotic at night is that it will also help you sleep better!
- Magnesium Glycinate
Magnesium is a mineral that supports digestion, bone, and heart health. It can also lower stress, improve sleep quality, and has even been found to reduce the occurrence of migraines! There are 11 different types of magnesium that can be taken as a supplement, such as magnesium citrate, oxide, aspartate, chloride, lactate, and malate. The one that makes this list, however, is magnesium glycinate. In magnesium glycinate, magnesium is combined with the amino acid known as glycine. Glycine is considered a sleep aid and is also used to treat inflammation.
Anxiety and sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on the body. They make you feel bad and can cause serious health conditions. Magnesium glycinate targets both which is why it is on this list of top supplements! This supplement has the ability to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression and improve the quality of your sleep.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)
Research continues to reveal new reasons why omega-3 fatty acids are incredible for our health! Studies have found that when a part of your diet, they can prevent cancer and improve the overall health of your brain, eyes, and heart! In addition, omega-3s have been found to fight depression and anxiety, reduce inflammation, improve sleep and alleviate menstrual pain.
Although you get omega-3 fatty acids in some nuts and fish, few people get enough in their diet to make a significant difference. Fish oil supplements are the best way to meet your omega-3 needs. You can often find them as a capsule or take them as a liquid but be warned; they don’t taste great. Although not as common, you can find vegan-friendly omega-3s made from plant sources.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is the magical “sunshine vitamin” we get from natural light. Unlike other vitamins, we don’t get this vitamin from food; instead, it is a hormone that is produced when our skin absorbs sunlight. Unfortunately, despite being so accessible to many of us we often don't get enough sunlight to produce the amount of vitamin D we need. Research suggests that just over 40% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, which can worsen inflammation, gut health, and sleep quality. Further, it can decrease our absorption of other essential minerals like calcium.
The good news is we can boost our vitamin D levels with supplements. Vitamin D drops, capsules, or gummies can help you get the levels of vitamin D you need. In addition, increasing your Vitamin D will improve your physical and mental health.
It’s important to note that even when taking these seven supplements, you should continue to consume a healthy, balanced diet. This is because we all have different nutritional needs that are also heavily influenced by our stage in life. For example, pregnant women have different nutritional needs than 60-year-old men.
When taking supplements, be sure to select high-quality products that contain quality ingredients and no additives. This will ensure you get the nutritional boost you need and none of the nasty fillers you don’t need.