The Top Supplements For Optimal Health
Many people take a variety of supplements. These may include vitamins, minerals, herbals, amino acids, and other products marketed as supplements or as health foods.
While supplements have the potential to promote metabolic health, they also come with their own risks. That’s why it’s critical to pick a good quality supplement.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D (also called calciferol or cholecalciferol) is an essential nutrient that is naturally produced in the body when UV rays from sunlight are absorbed by the skin. It has many important roles in the body, including bone health and the maintenance of normal calcium levels in the blood.
Vitamin D is found in a variety of foods and is available as a dietary supplement. It is important to get enough of this vitamin, especially during the fall and winter months when it is harder to obtain enough from the sun due to reduced exposure.
A vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in infants and osteomalacia in adults. The National Institutes of Health recommends that people get enough of this vitamin to prevent these conditions.
Serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) are the primary indicator of vitamin D status. A low level of 25(OH)D in the blood is a sign of vitamin D deficiency.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D is 600 IU daily for adults 19 years and older and 800 IU daily for those over 70. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is 4,000 IU for adults and children 9 years and older.
However, some dietary supplements contain high amounts of this vitamin and can be toxic. Symptoms of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, constipation, weakness, and weight loss.
People with certain diseases and conditions may need to take extra vitamin D supplements to reach an RDA of 600 IU daily. For example, patients with breast cancer or colorectal cancer may need to take supplemental vitamin D to help prevent or reduce their risk of cancer. It is also important to consult with your doctor before taking any supplemental vitamin D.
2. Fish Oil
Fish oil is an important supplement for optimal health because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This family of polyunsaturated fats has numerous health benefits, including protection against heart disease and inflammation.
The key to getting enough omega-3s in your diet is eating a variety of foods, such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, and anchovies. In addition, you can also take a dietary supplement to ensure you’re getting the right amount of omega-3s each day.
When you choose a dietary supplement, choose one that’s certified by a third party for purity, potency, and safety. This includes one that is tested for toxic metals like mercury.
You’ll also want to make sure the fish oil doesn’t have any polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are thought to cause cancer and disabilities at birth. The American Cancer Society recommends choosing a brand that’s certified free of PCBs.
Lastly, research shows that fish oil can sometimes cause side effects such as “fish burps” when taken on an empty stomach. However, Gans says these side effects are not common.
There is also some evidence that fish oil may help lower your risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast and prostate cancer. But this is not conclusive, and more studies are needed to determine its effect on cancer prevention.
In general, fish oil is considered safe when used as directed and under a doctor’s supervision. But you should talk to your doctor before taking a fish oil supplement if you have certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels.
If you have a high risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer, your doctor may prescribe a prescription-strength fish oil supplement. These supplements are more concentrated than over-the-counter capsules and contain more omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that can be found in many foods. It’s also available as a supplement, usually in capsules or chewable tablets. It’s important to get enough of this nutrient because it has been linked to a number of health benefits, including strengthening the immune system and lowering blood pressure.
It’s also a powerful antioxidant, which can protect the body from free radicals that cause inflammation. Antioxidants boost the body’s natural defenses and help fight disease and promote healthy aging.
The best way to get adequate amounts of vitamin C is to eat a well-balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables at their peak ripeness, such as oranges, watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts. Foods that are heated to high temperatures or left to cook for a long time can break down vitamin C, so avoid those types of cooking when possible.
Having low levels of this nutrient has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers and heart disease, including high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. But it’s not clear whether taking a daily supplement will prevent these health problems or help reduce them.
However, a few studies have shown that vitamin C may lower the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disorder of central vision. It’s important to speak with your ophthalmologist about these findings before you take a supplement.
It’s a key nutrient for wound healing, so getting enough is important for people who have a lot of cuts and scrapes. It’s also known to help prevent scurvy, which causes anemia and bleeding gums and can lead to poor wound healing.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in several key bodily functions, from muscle contractions and heartbeats to balancing blood pressure and glucose. It also supports brain health, helps with bone physiology, and reduces inflammation.
The body naturally produces magnesium, but a lack of it can cause health problems. It is one of the seven essential minerals that our bodies need in significant amounts to function and maintain good health.
Fortunately, many foods naturally contain magnesium, such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains and beans, and dairy products. However, many people are not getting enough magnesium.
Because of this, it’s important to be sure to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement daily that contains enough magnesium to prevent deficiency, as well as to get sufficient amounts of magnesium from food sources.
Studies have shown that magnesium can help with several different issues, from anxiety to regulating the sleep cycle. For example, one 2021 review found that adults who took magnesium supplements reported a better quality of sleep, while another 2022 study found that it helped them fall asleep faster.
It’s important to remember that magnesium can interact with some medications, so talk to your doctor before taking it. It’s also important to be aware of the risks associated with magnesium overdose, which can include nausea, diarrhea, and low blood pressure.
Getting enough magnesium is especially important if you have an endocrine disorder like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Symptoms of PCOS often include hormonal imbalance and high levels of insulin, which can increase the risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Zinc is an essential mineral that helps support healthy immune system function, blood clotting, cell signaling, and growth. It also plays a role in the senses of taste and smell, insulin, and thyroid function, and helps the body produce energy.
It is an important nutrient for preventing and treating a number of health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes. It may lower blood sugar and help control high cholesterol levels, which increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.
People who have gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss or gastric bypass surgeries, or those with digestive disorders, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, may not absorb enough zinc from the foods they eat, which leads to low serum zinc levels and zinc deficiency. They may need to take supplements.
In addition, certain antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin, can interfere with the absorption of zinc, lowering your serum level. This effect may occur two hours before or four to six hours after taking the medication. Penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen), an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, can also affect the absorption of zinc.
Finally, if you are on a diuretic drug for high blood pressure, such as hydrochlorothiazide, triamterene-hydrochlorothiazide (Dyazide, Maxzide), chlorthalidone or furosemide (Lasix), you may lose more zinc in your urine, increasing your risk of a low zinc level. Fortunately, taking a zinc supplement while you are on a diuretic may help minimize this risk.
It is important to get enough zinc in your diet, which includes a variety of protein-rich foods. For the best results, look for supplements containing at least the recommended daily amount, or DV, of 11 mg per serving.