Supplements are a great way to supplement your diet and lifestyle. The best way to get nutrients is through eating whole foods. Even if we are eating mostly unprocessed foods, sometimes we’ll need to supplement to make sure we’re getting adequate nutrients for our immune system and gut.
Our needs vary person-to-person, but these are the nutrients I recommend to optimize overall health.
Probiotics – your gut plays an important role in keeping you physically and mentally healthy. Probiotics are filled with healthy bacteria that keep your intestines and digestion healthy.
Fermented foods are great sources of probiotics! These include yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. I would recommend eating these foods daily. I enjoy Greek yogurt for breakfast and adding kimchi to my salad lunches during the week.
Prebiotics are types of fiber that feed the healthy bacteria in our intestines. Green bananas (they have more resistant starch than ripe bananas) and non-starchy vegetables are great sources.
Multivitamins – these are a great way to supplement vitamins. Deficiencies in these can lead to increased risk of insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a rapidly growing problem in the US and increases the risk of heart disease, PCOS, diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver.
Metabolic syndrome is having 3 or more of the following:
- Increased waist circumference (>40 inches men, 34 inches women)
- High blood pressure >130/85 mmHg
- High triglycerides >150mg/dL
- Low HDL (<40 mg/dL men, <50mg/dL women)
B vitamins provide energy for the mitochondria AKA the energy powerhouse in our cells. Look for methylated B-vitamins or a “B-complex” in your multivitamin to ensure it can be used in your mitochondria.
Vitamin D3 – You would think living in Florida, there wouldn’t be any problem getting enough Vitamin D – but many of us are deficient!
Vitamin D helps maintain our bone health, immunity (especially during COVID times) and metabolic health. Look for Vitamin D3 in your supplements – it’s the active form.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats are essential fatty acids, which means your body can’t produce them and you need to get them through your diet or supplement.
Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory. In the standard American diet (SAD), we consume way more Omega-6 than Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 is found in industrial seed oils, such as soybean, sunflower, canola and corn oil.
To balance it out, focus on eating foods rich in Omega-3.
There are short chain and long chain Omega-3 fatty acids.
Short-chain Omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) helps with cardiovascular health, but it poorly converts to the long-chain fatty acids. Good sources are almonds, flax and chia.
Long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA. EPA is anti-inflammatory and reduces inflammation in our bodies. DHA helps with brain health, memory and cognition and neural development. It’s never too late to start supplementing with these!
Great sources of Omega-3 Fatty acids are small fatty fish such as mackeral, salmon, sardines and anchovies. Oysters are a powerhouse for nutrition (high in B12, iron, zinc).
Good vegetarian sources of omega-3 are flax seeds and chia seeds.
Magnesium – Magnesium helps with DNA repair as well as anxiety and circadian rhythm, so I would recommend to take it at night.
There are different types of magnesium supplements available:
Magnesium citrate – most bioavailable (also helps with constipation)
Magnesium oxide – also helps with constipation
Magnesium glycinate – helps with anxiety, depression