02 Jan Essential advice for key supplements
If you are struggling to cope against a tide of new and exotic products and brands flooding the supplementation marketplace, “Bee Poo, anybody?” you’re not the only one! So, I have broken down the framework for your supplemental regime into these six key areas.
What Women Should Take Every Day:
Vitamin D—This essential vitamin is crucial for bone health, brain functions, and preventing hormone imbalance (goodbye PMS!) as it mimics a hormone when its inside the body. However, the risk for vitamin D deficiencies is rapidly increasing since fewer people get enough exposure to the sun (our main source of the vitamin). Unless you live in the Sahara or don’t wear sunscreen (which you should not be doing anyways), make sure to take a daily supplement.
Multivitamin—The goal here is to be getting enough of the antioxidant vitamins (Vitamins A, C, and E), because they fight free radical damage which might be the cause of premature aging and diseases that affect the brain, heart, eyes, and even skin. Look for vitamins with no more and no less than 100% of your daily dose of Vitamins B, C, E, and zinc. Take half of the dosage in the morning and half at night for maximum absorption.
Calcium—Women start losing bone density in their twenties. Foods like certain leafy greens do pack a good calcium punch, but not as much as is recommended every day. Look for a supplement with at least 600 mg, and take with 400mg of magnesium and 1,000 IU of Vitamin D for full absorption.
What You Should Take When You’re Sick:
Garlic—Can be counted as a superfood for dozens of reasons, but it is especially beneficial for people who are fighting colds. It speeds up your body’s natural healing process, and minimizes cold symptoms like clogged or runny sinuses. It can be added to meals as the food or taken in supplement form to ensure you’re getting enough. I personally take a clove a few times every week. It doesn’t necessarily win me any friends, but it does top up my libido in colder climes. [and keeps my wife happy]
Zinc—This mineral protects cell membranes from toxins, and works to reduce cold symptoms. Just make sure to take it with food or else it can upset your stomach.
Vitamin C—taking 1,000 milligrams a day of the immune-boosting vitamin will reduce the duration of the common cold. It is also a magical defender against other illnesses too, because it works to defend against viruses, so you can start taking the dosage during periods of high stress or physical activity (like training for a 10k), when your immune system is down.
What You Should Take For Your Hair, Skin, and Nails Health:
Biotin—This vitamin should be your go-to hair and nail helper, since it stimulates growth (and grows stronger). Watch your brittle nails become tougher and your thinning hair grow back thicker.
Collagen—The miracle ingredient our body naturally produces for cell-turnover, meaning it gets rid of dead skin cells, thickens hair, and even improves joint health. But our body may not be making enough of it, so adding as a supplement, like a powder for our smoothies, could completely transform your skin.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids—Not only does this super ingredient promote a healthy heart, but it also promotes healthy skin, and strong hair and nails. They work by regulating cell membranes, so they keep in the good nutrients, and block the bad from being absorbed by your body. You can find omega-3 naturally in walnuts, flaxseeds, and seafood like tuna and salmon, but if you need an extra boost, opt for about 500mg in supplement form.
What You Should Take If You Need To Detox:
Probiotics—“gut health” is certainly a new buzzword, and the most crucial supplement for gut health is a probiotic, which is a mixture of good bacteria that makes your gut digest and function properly, getting rid of the bad stuff you don’t want (like that late night pizza), and getting all the nutrients out of the good stuff (like the salad you were so proud of yourself for making). Make sure that you select a good multi strain probiotic, at least 16 strains, in conjunction with a healthy level of colony forming units, say 30 billion.
Chlorophyll—this is the chemical in plants that makes them turn green (like in spinach or kale), and is also a natural detoxifier for the body. It helps liver detoxification (essential for hangovers) and detoxifies the digestive system, which in turn can also improve skin health. Most people will benefit from a blue-green algae to alkalise the system. The best forms are seaweeds, and good quality wheatgrass, Chlorella, and Spirulina.
Dandelion Root—this plant has been used for aiding in digestion and detoxing since ancient times, so it’s definitely worth trying. It helps the kidneys do their job. It also helps to boost metabolism and balance out the good bacteria in your gut (a good friend for your probiotic). Steep a tea with the herb, or take it in pill form when necessary.
What You Should Take To Boost Your Mood:
Magnesium—this mineral is crucial for everything from preventing migraines and aiding digestion, and yet many women in the west aren’t getting enough of it. It’s mostly known and used for calming nerves and anxiety, and is considered nature’s sleep aid because of it’s ability to relax the body. It also helps to prevent migraines as well. Take in powder form in warm water, right before sleep, to reap in the benefits of nature’s sleep aid.
Turmeric—you may have heard of the spice as the ancient secret for fighting inflammation, that has been medicinally used for centuries to help with everything from arthritis to broken bones. But did you know it’s also been used to treat depression and anxiety because it boosts levels of serotonin and dopamine? Add the spice to any dish or smoothie, or take it in supplement form to make sure you’re getting enough.
Coenzyme Q10—say goodbye to your coffee addiction, once and for all! Coenzyme Q10 (otherwise known as CoQ10 on vitamin bottles) is an antioxidant found in cells, that is necessary for cell function. It’s crucial for energy production and keeping us going through the hardest workouts and busiest days. Our bodies naturally produce this enzyme, but our natural ability to produce it decreases with age, so taking it in vitamin form might be crucial for your energy supply.
What You Should Take if You Have a Restricted Diet:
B Vitamins—B vitamins (including vitamin superstars B12 and folate), are crucial for women’s metabolism, preventing fatigue, and helping cognitive functions. These vitamins actually work with other materials like iron to make red blood cells and turn the calories you eat into useable fuel. You might be familiar with folate (or folic acid) from prenatal vitamins because it’s critical for a healthy pregnancy. B-vitamins come mainly, and sometimes exclusively, from animal products, so make sure you’re taking a supplement to get enough of these crucial vitamins. Especially if you are gluten-free or gluten-sensitive, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B6.
Iron—like B vitamins, our main source of iron is meat products. And while it is in some plant-based foods like leafy greens or nuts, chances are you may not be getting enough of it if you’re a vegetarian or don’t eat a lot of meat. Aim for about 17-19mg total a day, and ask your doctor to check for iron deficiencies if you don’t eat a lot of meat.
This article was written for OmYoga magazine “Are you confused about Supplements” Jan 2019
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