There are many views and opinions about supplementing our nutrition. For those new to the game of supplements, they can be extremely valuable and can add significant benefits to our lives with respects to our health. They must be used appropriately and we must understand what supplements can do for us.
Why take supplements? There are many reasons to add supplements to our daily nutrition. For some, it is because they are under a significant amount of physical or mental stress. For others it is because they feel tired, fatigued, rundown, anxious, depressed, forgetful, apathetic or simply not quite right. Other reasons might be if someone is under any significant amount of environmental stress (i.e. pollutants or noise), if someone has digestive issues, if someone has immune system problems or challenges or simply because someone chooses to proactively enhance their health and prevent disease. For me personally, I choose to add supplements in order to stay healthy and at the top of my game.
So what supplements should we use? I’m sure there are many recommendations and differences of opinions but my suggestions are the following:
Protein – as mentioned before, protein is by far the most important macronutrient that our bodies require. Without it, we cannot thrive. Depending on your goals, there is a wide variety of protein supplements to suit your needs, we just need to do our research.
Fiber – ideally, we should be having a bowel movement everyday for each meal that we regularly consume. I know what you’re thinking, that might sometimes be 3 or 4 times a day! Perhaps that doesn’t seem feasible or even right, but we should at least have 1 bowel movement per day.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – these are things like Omega 3’s, 6’s and 9’s. Did you know that by cooking foods we severely damage the essential fatty acids that occur naturally in some foods? Processing food does the same. Since it’s unlikely that we will all go around eating only raw foods, it’s important to get these EFA’s from somewhere else.
Food Enzymes – when foods are cooked, the heat actually destroys an entire category of nutrients called enzymes! These help in the digestion of food and literally perform up to 50% of the basic breakdown portion of digestion! So taking food enzymes helps with digestive support.
Multivitamin – in this day and age, foods are primarily grown on nutrient depleted soil, so we need to make up for the lack of nutrients through a quality multivitamin. Be weary of what you choose, do your research! Also be aware that only 10% of the multivitamin and mineral supplements on the market are of high quality.
Vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, potassium, iodine, vitamin D3 and K2 – even the best multivitamins out there tend to not have high enough amounts of these that are required by our bodies.
Beneficial micro-organisms (or healthy bacteria) – there are over 400 species of beneficial bacteria that have been identified. These bacteria perform many positive health functions for our bodies and they need to be replenished regularly.
Antioxidants – these are things like vitamins A, C and E and minerals such as magnesium and zinc
Adaptogens – these boost one’s response to handling stress, trauma, fatigue, etc. by enhancing our ability to maintain or regain homeostasis (which is essentially balance in our bodies). There are many herbs that have been categorized as adaptogens (i.e. ginseng, maca, rhodiola, shwagandha, cordyceps, reishi and noni).
Who should take nutritional supplements? That’s a great question and the list below is not exhaustive but it will give you a fairly good idea. Pretty much all women during their childbearing years are recommended to take folic acid, calcium and iron. Senior citizens often have reduced digestive and absorbative abilities and so should supplement their nutrition. For obvious reasons, people who are dieting and thus in a calorie deficit, people with eating disorders, people who eat processed and fast foods often, children and teenagers with irregular eating habits and people with a history of demonstrated nutritional deficiencies should also supplement their nutrition.
In my humble opinion, everyone can benefit from nutritional supplementation and it’s up to each and every one of us to do our homework and find out what is best for our bodies. After all we are only given one body and we must care for it!