It seems most of us these days are aware of the need to strive for a well-balanced, healthier diet. The fact of the matter, however, is that even conscientious eaters can miss out on key nutrients that are necessary to maintain optimal health and prevent the inevitable aging process. If your dietary intake doesn’t contain a perfect balance of every vitamin and mineral – and honestly, whose really does? – you can most definitely benefit from incorporating daily supplements. “It’s always best to eat whole foods, since they supply nutrients in combinations pill can’t replicate,” says sports dietitian Molly Morgan, R.D. “But taking certain supplements can help ensure we get everything people need.”
The important element to consider when it comes to supplementation is the quality – or lack there of – of the supplement. The supplements should be science and evidence-based, they should be endorsed by qualified health professionals such as physicians, chiropractors, registered dietitians, oncologists, dermatologists, etc., and should contain a synergistic blend of ingredients to ensure maximum absorption. How can find this information about a supplement? The first step is to speak with a qualified health professional. What do they recommend? Secondly, look at the evidence or science behind the product. Is there any? And if so, what does the evidence tell you? And lastly, is there information available regarding the absorption of the product? This will tell you whether or not what you are taking is worth your hard-earned money.
Here’s the skinny on supplementation:
CALCIUM: Calcium helps to create an alkaline environment in the body, which is ideal for weight management and disease prevention. It also reduces stress-fracture risk by strengthening bones, and plays a key role in muscle and nerve function. It also supports normal blood pressure, is crucial for the heart and helps against colon cancer. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found people with high calcium intake have a lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes. If you have any history of heart problems, type-2 diabetes, or have any degenerative bone disease, you most definitely need to supplement with calcium. If you are a woman age 51 or older, you also need to be supplementing with calcium. If you regularly fall short of at least 3 servings of dairy per day or are lactose intolerant, supplementing with calcium is a good idea.
HOW TO GET IT: Take 750 mg of calcium citrate or calcium carbonate daily (women 51 or older need at least 1,000 mg). To boost absorption, take it in two doses at meals a few hours apart.
OMEGA-3 FISH OIL: Omega-3 helps to maintain healthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels by providing omega-3 fatty acids and beneficial fish oils, which promote cardiovascular health and healthy blood pressure. Fish oil has also been found to improve symptoms of depression and improve the appearance of your skin, hair and nails. Studies show EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, help reduce exercise-induced asthma and muscle soreness and increase lean body mass. If you are currently on blood pressure reducing medication, have an ongoing heart problem, are experiencing mild or severe depression, or would like to improve body composition, Omega-3 supplementation is needed. If you do not have any of these symptoms/health ailments and eat at least 2-3 servings of fatty fish a week, you are most likely getting plenty of omegas. But if you're among the 70 percent of Americans who rarely or never eat seafood, supplements are a good choice.
HOW TO GET IT: Read the label! A supplement with 1,000 mg of fish oil may actually contain little DHA and EPA. You need a supplement that contains at least 500 mg of DHA and EPA each."
MULTI-VITAMIN: A daily multi-vitamin is critical for maintaining optimal health and wellness. A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found 35 percent of adults swallow multivitamins. Another recent study reported long-term takers are less likely to have heart attacks. So, should you be taking one? Due to busy schedules, stress, lack of sleep, and the fact that our food system is depleted of many of the vitamins and minerals it once offered in our whole foods, everyone should be taking a multi-vitamin. Again, the importance is quality. Taking a daily multi-vitamin ensures you are getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs on a daily basis and acts to fill the “gaps” in your dietary intake. If you’re an athlete, a multi-vitamin can also replenish nutrients lost during hard training and/or when nutrient needs increase.
VITAMIN D: Vitamin is vital for bone health due to the need for this vitamin for the efficient absorption of calcium. The Institute of Medicine recently raised its recommended daily intake from 200 international units (IU) to 600 IU for most age groups. Newer research is finding higher does may be necessary as well and are linking vitamin D to lower risk for heart disease, breast cancer, depression, and diabetes. But getting enough is difficult since it's in few foods and our bodies only make it when exposed to UV rays. Therefore, most people would benefit from taking a daily vitamin D supplement.
How To Get It: A good first step is to get your vitamin D levels checked. Your doctor can test your levels or some other health care professionals, such as registered dietitians, have the ability to have it tested as well. If you have vitamin D levels below 30 ng/ml, I recommend taking at least 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Once levels are back to normal, a maintenance dose of at least 1,000 IU per day is sufficient for most people. A vitamin D with K2 is essential, as Pair vitamin D with your largest meal to increase absorption.
ALOE: Aloe contains over 200 nutrients and is rich in enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, glycoprotein, acemannan, mucilaginous polysaccharides and other phytochemicals. Aloe is called a neutralizer because is helps to maintain a normal pH, which enables a healthy, disease-free environment for your body.
How To Get It: Look for aloe juice that has the IASC (International Aloe Science Council) seal that certifies the Aloe content and purity. The Aloe used in the product should be free of undesirable components such as aolin and other anthroquinones.
As a certified health care professional, I suggest many of the supplements manufactured by NutraMetrix Advanced Nutraceuticals. After much of my own research in the supplement industry, this line of supplements offers a variety of science and evidence-based nutraceuticals that are being used in health care medical practices world wide. Each product is backed by science and research, and has been shown to have a high absorption rate. To learn more, go to the NutraMetrix website.
Questions? Contact me anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 999-5684
Yours in health,
Alissa C. Robertson, MS, RD