4 Essential Supplements for Optimal Health
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients, such as vitamin C and calcium, that we need in order for our bodies to function properly. Many of us don’t consume enough healthy, balanced foods in order to get all the nutrients that we need, which is why adding certain vitamin and mineral supplements to one’s daily diet can offer important health benefits.
“Understanding the most appropriate vitamins and minerals to supplement can be a complex and overwhelming process,” says Dr. NavNirat Nibber ND, a naturopathic doctor and Advanced Orthomolecular Research advisor. “Choosing the right supplement requires an understanding of your body and its current needs, what vitamins and mineral deficiencies you may be at risk of developing, as well as assessing your diet, genetics, and lifestyle to find the right forms and dosages. With all these considerations it’s very easy to fall prey to over-self-prescribing, under-dosing, or counteracting with opposing supplements, leaving you with some expensive urine with very little benefits.”
According to Nibber, the best place to start is to get an assessment by a health practitioner who can tailor supplement regimes to your needs. To help you feel better faster, she also recommends taking essential supplements daily in order to provide yourself with a strong foundation that has a relatively low risk of interactions and toxicities:
Let's face it: Most of us are not eating enough leafy greens, and even if we are, the changing quality of our soil means that we may not be getting enough magnesium. Magnesium plays more than 300 biochemical roles in our body—from muscle function, mood, and sleep to cardiovascular, and more. The form of magnesium that you take is also important because it can change the target and benefits.
For example, magnesium glycinate is ideal for sleep and mood, while magnesium malate has been shown to be more beneficial in muscle pain and fibromyalgia. While there is no accurate blood test to tell you your magnesium levels, it is often considered relatively safe to supplement up to 400mg (RDA) or until bowel tolerance.
2. B Complex.
B vitamins are the mechanics of your body’s engine. These important co-factors turn on important enzymes for hundreds of reactions throughout your body. From red blood cell production, liver and cell detoxification to nervous system support. B vitamin deficiencies can wreak havoc on your quality of life, so it’s important that you are getting enough.
Individuals with the highest risk of deficiencies include: vegans/vegetarians, individuals with malabsorption disorders (i.e. IBS/IBD), the elderly, people that consume alcohol in excess, those experiencing chronic stress, and individuals with genetic deficiencies. For individuals looking to get the most out of these water-soluble B vitamins, they should look for active forms and ensure that they are at different doses ( as opposed to the same dose access the board).
Try: Advanced B Complex
3. Probiotic Support.
Within our GI tract lays a rich and complex composition of microorganisms that have set up residence. These microorganisms (bacterial species) help us digest our food, process our toxins, regulate our immune function, and so much more. The composition of this population of bacteria can mean the difference between optimal health and chronic illness. Suffice to say we want to populate our fertile GI landscape with the best bacterial “seeds.” Unfortunately, poor diets, chronic antibiotic use, and other lifestyle factors have resulted in unbalanced, insufficient, or harmful growth.
When looking for a probiotic, remember that you want to plant seeds—not throw a bunch of fruit on the field and hope for the best. Make sure you provide strains of bacteria that work together so they act as probiotics, each creating byproducts that help each other grow. Strains that are normally found in the human GI tract are often thrown together without really testing how they impact bacteria growth, so combinations with clinical evidence is more important than individual strains. If they work well together, you have less die off and don’t need to worry about die off in capsules as much—so less is more!
Try: Probiotic 3
4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids are shorter chains used to build fats—an important fuel source. These fatty acid chains help our cells stay fluid while keeping their structure, and keep cell membranes permeable (movement in and out of the cells). This is important for heart health and blood flow, nerve health, and brain function—like the oil that lubricates a car, it keeps everything smooth and fluid. Omega 3 supplementation is associated with fish oils, however this has led to unsustainable overfishing practices, concerns of metal toxicities, not to mention the rather unpleasant taste. A vegan source from algae has proven to be a sustainable, inclusive option.
Try: Omega 3 1000
Kamala Kirk is a University of Southern California graduate and has been an editor/writer for more than a decade. She has written for E! Online, Total Beauty, TravelAge West, Malibu Times Magazine, and many more. She resides in Los Angeles and is a proud pug mom. Follow her on Instagram: @kamalakirk