Few people get all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients their bodies need from the food they eat. The recommended daily consumption of three servings of vegetables and two fruits can be a challenge.
Nutritional supplements are helpful as an aid, though not a substitute, for a healthy diet. Here is a look at some of the supplements experts advise taking in pill or powder form.
This is the most popular type of nutrition booster in a bottle. Though many brands are available, it is wise to spend a little more money for a product with a higher concentration of key vitamins and minerals. Many authorities believe the “recommended” or “minimum” daily amount of many nutrients is insufficient.
The best multivitamins are those with a lot of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps prevent various illnesses and diseases; Vitamin D, which has been found to ward off cancer, hypertension, anxiety and insomnia; and the disease-fighting zinc and selenium. B1 and B12 vitamins – when combined with thiamine, riboflavin and folic acid – protect the brain and central nervous system. Folic acid reduces the danger of suffering from high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Other substances not usually found in multivitamins also lower the risk of serious ailments. Research has shown that co-enzyme Q-10 helps prevent the inflammation that can lead to heart disease and arthritis.
The powerful antioxidant resveratrol, an ingredient of red wine, lowers blood pressure, strengthens brainpower, eases joint pain, increases longevity, and may aid in preventing cancer. Among other widely available antioxidant supplements are green tea extract, and bioflavonoids like quercetin and rutin.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
People who get high doses of omega-3s are less susceptible to Alzheimer’s and other dementia symptoms. These acids also assist in maintaining proper triglyceride levels, which lowers the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Omega-3s bolster immunity, ease inflammation and regulate blood-sugar levels, as well.
The most effective way to ingest the acids is by eating fish two or three times a week. Wild-caught salmon is a smart choice because it contains less mercury than many kinds of fish. Other omega-3 sources are flax seeds and marine phytoplankton.
Calcium and Magnesium
Taking these together amplifies the benefits of both minerals. Cal-mag pills often include Vitamin D, because it helps the body absorb the calcium that promotes strong bones and teeth.
Older people may want to increase their intake of calcium because they are more vulnerable to osteoporosis and bone fractures. Elderly women need more of the mineral due to the loss of estrogen during menopause.
Magnesium benefits muscles and nerves, while stabilizing heart rhythm. It is another way to keep blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes at bay.
Nutritional authorities suggest iron pills for women, selenium supplements for men, and lutein for anyone seeking to protect their eyes.
Parents of college students might want to include Vitamin D3 supplements in their care packages because the nutrient improves bone density, immunity and heart health. Student athletes need Vitamin D3 for strength and agility.
Other types of supplements address specific problems. Some of them should not be taken together, and too high a concentration of certain substances can be dangerous. It is essential to do the research, keeping in mind that supplement manufacturers may make unfounded claims, and that medical authorities and pharmaceutical companies often unfairly downplay supplements’ benefits.
Most importantly, people should get as many nutrients as they can from food sources. Protein is vital, but the dinner plate should feature more vegetables than meat. Daily workouts and maintaining a healthy weight also help prevent ailments.