Supplements: Where should you start?

We’ve all been there. You are standing in the supplement aisle of the health food store because you’ve read online that your fatigue could be caused by lack of supplement X, Y, or Z. But what kind of X do you need, and in what quantity? Should you combine Y and Z to have the maximum effect? The multitude of information can be overwhelming so as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, I’ve taken a little time to gather some of my thoughts around the topic.

If you’re just starting your research and are looking for an alternative method to boost your overall health, a solution to your fatigue, or aches and pains, rest assured that supplements are a viable option. Supplements are usually concentrated doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or herbs.

We need to ingest them in our food in order to incorporate them into our body chemistry. With the rise of processed food, factory farming, and depleted soils, very little of our food has the necessary nutrients that our bodies require in order to thrive.

But before adding handfuls of supplements to your daily routine, make a conscious effort to select food ingredients that will naturally provide the building blocks that your body needs.

That being said, it’s not only about what you eat. Even the people who are committed to nourishing their body with nutrient dense food, need supplements.

Due to physical, emotional and mental stress, environmental toxins, genetically modified food, work and family related stresses, supplements have become a necessity.

Where should you start? The supplement aisle contains hundreds of options but the best place to start is with the common ones listed below. Remember to check with a health care practitioner, if you are concerned about interactions with your existing medications.

Multivitamins: A good appropriate multivitamin will help balance out any mild deficiencies you might have. If you are severely deficient in any specific nutrient, you may want to supplement an additional isolated dose.

Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA-DHA): Mostly derived from fish, these fatty acids are good for your heart, raising LDL cholesterol (the good stuff), and improving blood flow.

Vitamin D: In a perfect world, we would all get a few hours of sunlight each day and produce our own vitamin D.  But for people living in the northern latitudes, the use of sunscreen, and people staying indoors more, it’s almost impossible for our bodies to produce enough. Vitamin D is not only necessary for supporting healthy teeth and bones, but it also controls so many different functions in our body, mainly because it regulates and controls genes.

Minerals: Magnesium and chromium are both good for stabilizing blood sugar levels, which plays a critical role in diabetes-related ailments.

Probiotics: Our stomachs are bombarded with all sorts of toxins that can harm the good bacteria that aid in digestion. Probiotics are super doses of those helpful bacteria that can get your gut flora back on track.

At the end of the day, supplements are vital to good health. It’s essential when selecting a type, dosage, and brand of supplements, to use high quality supplements. There is essentially no real regulation on the quality in the manufacture of supplements, so it’s important to avoid anything that contains fillers or artificial flavourings and colours. Consult your health care practitioner, or functional medicine physician to help you find the right vitamins and supplements for your healthiest you!

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