Vitamins and other supplements can play an important part in our personal health care regimens.
Declining soil quality means that we cannot always get the nutrients we need from our food alone, even when we’re eating an ideal diet for our optimal health. And if we’re being honest, most of us don’t eat perfectly all of the time. (A girl’s gotta live a little right?!) Not preparing our foods properly exposes us to anti-nutrients that deplete our vitamin and mineral stores, or forces our livers to use up extra nutrients to process that extra glass of wine. Common medications can also interfere with our vitamin levels. For instance, the birth control pill depletes important nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins.
So, what’s a girl to do? You can help out your system with vitamins and supplements so that you can feel your best while keeping up everything else that you do.
Here is your go-to guide for the vitamins and supplements you should consider adding to your healthcare regimen to keep you feeling fine:
A good multi-vitamin will help round out your diet and provide you with additional vitamins and minerals that you might be missing. Choose a multi-vitamin that has at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 and look for trace minerals like manganese, chromium and molybdenum.
High quality multi-vitamins will also contain the vitamins and minerals mentioned in the following sections in the recommended forms, ie. look for Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Glycinate (not Magnesium Oxide), and Folate (not Folic Acid). I also recommend food-based brands like MegaFoods and New Chapter. These brands contain vitamins and nutrients mostly derived from whole foods instead of synthetic variants. You’re more likely to find these brands and other high quality supplements at health food stores and on sites like iherb.com, as opposed to large drugstore chains.
Remember that you do not need to meet all of your nutritional requirements every single day. It’s often more helpful to think of meeting your requirements over the course of the week. If you eat a healthy diet then you will also be getting most of these nutrients from your food so vitamins should be used to supplement, not supplant, your diet. I recommend taking your multi-vitamin just a few times a week.
Magnesium Citrate or Glycinate
Magnesium is absolutely essential to over 300 biological processes including protein synthesis, and muscle and nerve function. Slow digestion, constipation (if you don’t go at least once a day, you’re constipated), menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms all result from too little magnesium.
Aim for 200 to 600 mg per day, ideally taken at night before bed. (This and a probiotic are the only supplements I recommend taking daily.) When purchasing, check the form that the Magnesium is in. Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Glycinate are two of the most bioavailable forms, which means you’ll get more bang for your buck. Remember to check your multi- or prenatal vitamin for Magnesium as well. You may find that you require a lower dose on the days that you take your multi.
B vitamins assist in the synthesis of RNA and DNA, which is important for cell health and also vital for creating healthy eggs and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Additionally vitamin B6 plays a crucial role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, making it incredibly important for our happiness and mood stability.
You’ll want to make sure that your B-complex vitamin contains folate instead of folic acid, which is the synthetic form of vitamin B9. Also check to make sure it contains vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, and at least 400 mcg of vitamin B12 (cobalamin or methylcobalamin). Take your B-complex two to three times a week.
A properly balanced microbiome is crucial for everything from our digestive to our mental health. In other words you want the right balance of beneficial gut bacteria.
Unfortunately, our modern diet and antibiotics often create an environment that is more hospitable to our bad gut bugs than to our good ones. This can create gas, bloating, indigestion, inflammation, affect our hormonal health and has even been linked to acne and depression.
Taking a probiotic supplement is one of the best ways to counteract a compromised microbiome. They work by adding more of the good guys to your system every day. When choosing a probiotic, make sure that you pick one that displays an expiration date and contains multiple bacterial strains. The different strains should be labeled on the bottle or packaging. Generally, refrigerated probiotics are more effective than their non-refrigerated counterparts. You may take a probiotic twice a day, once before breakfast and once before bed.
Flaxseed Oil or Fish Oil
Healthy fats are important for many things including heart health, skin health, the production of hormones and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Too many omega-6 fats and too few omega-3 fats tend to create an inflammatory response in the body and can also raise levels of bad cholesterol.
Supplementing with flaxseed or fish oil can help bolster your levels of omega-3 fatty acids. More studies have been done on the efficacy of fish oil and it contains more bioavailable forms of the omega-3 fatty acids than flaxseed oil. However, if you are a vegetarian or dislike the taste of fish oil, flaxseed oil is a good alternative. I recommend Nordic Naturals for fish oil and Barlean’s for flaxseed oil. Take as directed.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement for personal health care from a licensed professional practitioner. You should always consult with your physician or healthcare provider before introducing new supplements, particularly if you are on any type of prescription medication. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional or the directions and information on the packaging of supplements discussed herein.