There is no such supplement that could be a full substitute for a balanced whole-food diet. That’s what the name itself says, its job is to “supplement” the diet. Even the best supplements. The few basic things everyone should know about eating healthy are that we should eat whole foods that are as least refined or processed as possible and that we should be getting most of our nutrients from foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grain, various lean proteins, and healthy fats.
In an ideal world, we would all be eating the perfect amounts of nutrients and balance out the right foods in every meal to achieve optimal nutrition. It’s quite possible for many of us to fully meet our daily nutritional needs by eating food alone. However, the majority of us do not live in such perfect conditions where that’s possible.
Our food supply, modern busy lifestyles, and in the end our food choices make it very hard for us to meet our diet needs. This is exactly where supplements come in to save the day.
If your particular lifestyle, palate, lack of time, energy, or priorities make it hard for you to get the necessary optimal nutrition through foods, supplementation is the correct remedy for that. So, without further ado, we present to you the 6 best supplements you should consider taking for better health.
The best supplements for health and recovery
Vitamin D has gained a lot of popularity this year due to the many studies conducted which noticed a great correlation between vitamin D insufficiency and Covid-19 mortality rate. Scientists are still researching and even though a consensus on its benefits regarding Covid-19 is yet to be reached, it is nonetheless one of the most important vitamins the human body needs and should be taken regularly. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and it is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies make it when they’re exposed to sunlight.
It is a complex vitamin because you can find it in two forms: vitamin D2 is the form you get from consuming fortified foods, and vitamin D3 is the form that we mentioned above, the one our bodies synthesize in our skin from UV or sunlight exposure.
Considering that the body produces this type of vitamin D, it’s considered to be a hormone instead of a vitamin. Vitamin D is in charge of regulating the levels of calcium and phosphorus in our bodies and scientists are uncovering more about its functions such as being linked to improving the immune system, insulin regulation, and even weight regulation.
Both forms D2 and D3 can be converted to the vitamin’s active form in your blood, called 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. Not everyone can get sufficient sunlight exposure they’d need to make enough of vitamin D, especially during winter and at higher altitudes, so it is recommended that you ingest it through foods such as sardines and eggs, and fortified foods such as any dairy product.
If you’re wondering what your vitamin D levels are and you worry that it may be causing you problems, you can have it checked by consulting with your doctor.
2. Protein powder
When we are at best supplements, protein powders are the most widely used supplements in the fitness community. You can find them in many forms, many flavors, and are deemed to be one of the most beneficial tools in your fitness arsenal. There is fast-acting whey protein, slow-acting casein protein, vegan protein for vegans, soy protein, and many others, each suited for a particular goal or lifestyle.
When it comes to protein consumption, the general rule is to get as much as possible from clean food sources, such as chicken, beef, fish, dairy, and plant sources like seeds and nuts. Even vegetables contain certain amounts of protein.
Many people manage to meet their daily protein needs, and some need a boost in powder form for convenience sake or to simply help them meet their needs. When we ingest protein in powder form, we need to make sure it’s “clean”. Look at the labels for any extra “junk” in there, such as too many carbs. If you’re vegan, make sure you’re getting your protein from quality plant sources, soy-free, and also that you’re not getting a ton of sugar with it.
There have been hundreds of studies proving the many benefits of healthy fats, especially omega-3 fats. They have been shown to improve heart health, the functioning of the immune system, brain health, and the inflammatory response.
Scientists have also been studying how omega-3 supplementation affects mood since these healthy fatty acids are the brain’s building blocks. There’s also evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can combat depression, improve sleep, and even increase libido.
Walnuts, salmon, fatty fish, and dark leafy greens are natural sources that are rich in omega-2s and we should all strive to incorporate them in our diets as much as possible, unless you happen to be allergic to any one of them, of course. If you do want to take a supplement that will take your omega-3 consumption a step further, choose a pharmaceutical-grade quality fish oil containing both EPA and DHA.
These two are fatty acids that work in synergy to keep us healthy. Studies have shown that the ratio of these two fatty acids is imbalanced in most Americans’ diets. That’s why it is recommended that you take omega-3 supplementation with EPA and DHA.
4. Green powder
No wonder our moms made us eat greens when we were kids, even though we didn’t want to. Green veggies are filled with all kinds of micronutrients, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. They have a small number of calories while having a high content of water, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is generally recommended that you eat green vegetables at least twice a day.
Green powder is another convenient way to consume the minimum amount of nutrients and get in some extra for optimal health. One of the most quality versions is green powder blend which contains organic greens which are a mix of many types of greens including sea vegetables. Many people eat even seaweed, however, it’s a lot more difficult to eat that than, for example, spinach. Add a scoop of greens to your smoothie or you can even mix it with some water.
Finding ways to maintain gut health has become popular in recent years. New studies are looking at the gut microbiome and how it can influence weight management. Science is still uncovering the importance of having a gastrointestinal tract brimming with all kinds of microbes to maintain a healthy weight. Your gut is filled with over 400 types of probiotic bacteria, which are the “good guys” bacteria in your stomach, which help digestion and help fight the bad bacteria also found in your intestines.
Probiotics might also help with digestive tract infections, control inflammatory bowel disease, and enhance your immune system. Lots of people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused mainly by antibiotics and other medications, and if you’re traveling and you happen to experience “irregular bowel movements”, it’s always a good idea to take some while on the road.
Taking a probiotic daily is a good strategy for anyone who doesn’t eat foods that have high probiotic content such as yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut, to name a few. Supplementing can help you make sure you’re consuming enough probiotics to maintain a healthy digestive tract.
When choosing which probiotic supplement to buy, avoid the ones that make blanket claims and pick the one which lists the scientific names of the various bacteria cultures, for example, Lactobacillus acidophilus. You’ll also want to make sure that the label states that the cultures are living. Lots of brands don’t have live cultures, which isn’t beneficial.
When shopping for such a supplement, you’ll notice that different strains of bacteria manage different conditions and you’ll also see that the recommended doses vary among brands, so see to it that you take them according to the designated directions.
Supplementing with a multivitamin is pretty self-explanatory and should be a staple of your “supplement stack”. Its main goal is to give your diet already based on whole healthy foods a boost and backup reserves of vitamins and minerals. Taking a multivitamin is not a substitute for eating fruits and vegetables, but it does come as a kind of second line of defense. Statistics show that four out of five people don’t get their daily needs of vitamins and minerals through their diet.
Get yourself a multivitamin that has all the nutrients your body needs but isn’t loaded with more than it can use. If you are a vegan, some multivitamins are vegan-friendly and are comprised of veggie capsules that don’t contain magnesium stearate.