If you are one of those people that believes in getting your nutrients from your food instead of from pills...well, so am I! When I first started seeing a nutritionist a few years back and she started telling me to take vitamin C, a probiotic and some yucky tasting multi-vitamins, I was REALLY hesitant. And while I listened to her initially and took some of the recommended vitamins, I quickly gave up because I didn't really understand WHY I should be taking them and how necessary they were. Plus, they were expensive, annoying to take, and its not like I noticed a difference anyway.
The thing is, I hadn't really cleaned up my diet the way I have now, and of course, I didn't take the supplements long enough in combination with a clean diet to notice any difference. But the fact of the matter is, if you are taking something, you need to understand why.
When I started studying nutrition, I began to really understand the importance of having all your vitamins and minerals at optimal levels, in order to feel good and avoid health issues. So I started really paying attention to eating a broader diet, rich in all the vitamins and minerals, especially those in which I was slightly deficient. And let me tell you, I started to see a difference after a few months. I had shifted my focus to eating only nutrient-dense calories, and avoiding processed foods, especially diet products, because they really have no nutritional value! I started eating a wide range of vegetables in different colors every week, eating more superfoods, whole grains and legumes, etc. And I started buying organic foods to make sure I was getting the nutrients but not the pesticides and hormones.
Even then, I still had some health issues. In my case, I realized that two of my health concerns were linked to low magnesium. And even though I was eating lots of high magnesium foods, it wasn't enough. Then I started taking a great natural magnesium supplement every night, and wow, it literally made a HUGE difference, vastly improving my main health issues. That's when I saw, first hand, the importance of supplementing in those areas where we need it, when food sometimes just isn't enough.
First, let me explain to you why it's not always enough to get the nutrients from your food, even if you are eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, meats, etc. Second, let me explain why it really matters. Lastly, I'll tell you which basic supplements everyone should be taking now.
In a nutshell, times have changed. Centuries back, supplements weren't needed because our ancestors would eat wild foods that were not processed, and these foods were rich in nutrients. But now we live in a world where the soils have been depleted of nutrients from all the pesticides and industrial farming techniques, therefore, the animals and vegetables we eat have fewer nutrients. And then we are eating processed, factory-made foods that have almost NO nutrients. On top of that, our lifestyles have changed. We now deal with chronic stress, lack of sunlight, and even worse, are faced with a huge load of environmental toxins that harm the body, which make us need more nutrients than we did before.
Why does it matter? Because malnutrition is linked to so many health problems, from simple digestive issues to diabetes and obesity. Nutrients are essential to getting your body into its natural state of balance, and getting to the core of any health issue. Taking the necessary supplements will make your cells more efficient at metabolizing sugars and fats.
So which are the supplements that almost everyone should be taking? Most nutrition experts agree that the basics are: a good multivitamin, Vitamin D, Omega 3 fats/Fish Oil, and Probiotics. Why these?
-Multivitamin: it’s like an insurance policy to help protect your body against any vitamin/ mineral shortfall. (I like New Chapter which is organic and has a great blend of herbs).
-Vitamin D: its SO important, as it plays an essential role in making tons of disease-preventing proteins and enzymes, but it’s almost impossible to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from food, so you have to get it from supplements and sun exposure.
-Fish Oil: it’s high in essential omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) which help your body fight against inflammation and protect it from disease. These fatty acids are also really important for basically all your daily functions, supporting your metabolism, your memory, mood, hormone balance, etc. Adding a high quality Omega 3 supplement to your daily routine will significantly enhance your overall health.
-Probiotics: Having enough probiotics or “good bacteria” in your gut is absolutely key for everything, primarily aiding in digestion and boosting your immune system. Even if you have a strong belly, common things such as antibiotics, toxins from pollution and stress deplete your good bacteria and allow the unhealthy bacteria to grow. I suggest adding in greek yogurt (if you can tolerate dairy), fermented vegetables, and a daily probiotic supplement.
On top of those 4, many people are also low in Iron, Magnesium, and B-Vitamins and would benefit from additional supplementation in these areas.
But remember, your particular health issues are the best signal as to which nutrients you need more of, so make sure to speak to a health professional and check those out! And speak to your doctor about which supplements you’re taking, and make sure there is no issue with any medications you may be taking. Also, make sure you are buying your supplements from a reputable company.
Lastly and most importantly, keep in mind that supplements won’t make up for a bad diet! Start with eating a cleaner diet based on whole foods, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and then focus on adding supplements to boost your health, and help protect you from getting sick.
Love and supplements,