My Top Four Supplements for a Healthy Body & Mind
Supplements have the potential to improve and enhance your health and wellbeing. During times of stress, illness or to treat a nutrient deficiency, supplements are needed to boost our health. An important point should be that supplements are there to compliment your existing healthy diet and lifestyle and are not intended to substitute food.
When contemplating a supplement, you need to consider the purpose, the dosage and frequency in addition to any contraindications that may be present. The best way to navigate this process is to work with your naturopath or doctor. They’ll be able to consider your goals in the context of your health and point you in the right direction.
The following supplements include nutrients that can often be difficult for us to reach the recommended daily dose (RDA) of or that we simply don't include it in our diet. These supplements have an extraordinary impact on our health for their involvement in numerous functions in the body.
The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics defines probiotics as, “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. Probiotics can improve your digestive, immune and mental health as well as your metabolism and skin.
It is generally best to purchase a supplement that lists their colony-forming units (CFUs). I typically recommend a probiotic with at least 10 billion and one with various strains can be helpful in diversifying the gut microbiome. Make sure you follow storage instructions too, some will need to be refrigerated while others in a cool dry place.
I also recommend incorporating probiotic-rich foods; such as kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and tempeh; as you not only get the probiotic benefit but the added value of other vitamins and minerals.
Omega 3 - Essential Fatty Acids
Omega 3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat that's considered an essential fatty acid, which means our body can't produce an adequate amount, so we must rely on our diet to achieve optimal levels. It's found in fish, nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils. There are rarely nutrients that have such a varied positive health outcomes. Omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to help with cardiovascular, brain and mental health. It can reduce inflammation and help with symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD and hormonal imbalances.
Purchasing a high quality Omega 3 supplement, and with the right dosage, is crucial. You need to be looking for a supplement that has both DHA and EPA and in adequate amounts. The recommendation is 500mg of each, but this depends on the individual and numerous other factors. Check that the fish source is organic, sustainable and from wild fish stock.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for our health and wellbeing and it is difficult to absorb adequately from sunlight alone. The amount of vitamin D your skin makes depends on many factors, including the time of day, season, latitude and your skin pigmentation. Your body makes vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in your skin into an active form of the vitamin (calciferol). Most people don't spend enough time outdoors or we put on sunscreen, which lowers absorption. Hence why a supplement is essential for most people, especially during the winter months (October to March).
Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones, a strong immune system, a balanced endocrine system as well as mood, brain function and your body’s overall ability to protect against a range of illnesses. Look for Vitamin D3 supplement, the active form for maximum absorption. Dosage varies according to your need, which is why it is important to get tested first. For maintenance, 1,000IU is sufficient.
Magnesium is a mineral found everywhere in our body and involved in almost every system in our body. Magnesium helps increase energy, we require it to create energy from carbs, protein and fats. It calms the nervous system, helps your sleep, relaxes muscles and helps with aches and pains.
Magnesium is found in many foods including spinach, swiss chard, black beans, avocados, cashews, peanuts, almonds, quinoa and dark chocolate.
For adults, the recommendation is 310 to 420 milligrams per day. Most women aim for about 310 to 320 milligrams a day, although pregnant women may need a little more.
Magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate are the most bioavailable forms. They are both great options for magnesium supplementation, depending on your specific needs, whether for helping with sleep and relaxation or increasing gut motility and supporting digestion (for these go with the citrate form which has a laxative effect).