Which Supplements Does My Body Need?
Do you eat a well-balanced diet, get plenty of restful sleep, drink at least eight glasses of water daily, feel clear-headed and energized throughout the day, live a low-stress lifestyle and have time for regular exercise?
If so, wow! Good for you! However, your body is continually exposed to toxins in our environment, water and food, so even your best intentions might not be enough to combat these health destroyers.
And if you’re like most of us, you’re probably coming up a little short on some or all these best intentions. Adding supplements to your diet can be a simple way to improve your health. Supplements can also help you combat specific health challenges too, such as losing weight, improving sleep, detoxing your body or improving cognitive function. Not all supplements are created equally, so we'll talk about how to identify high-quality supplements in a moment.
Which Supplements Should I Take?
That depends on a variety of factors! Women and men’s bodies have slightly different nutritional needs, for one. For another, our diets and lifestyle are certainly not identical or even close in some cases. Supplements that might be right for your body might not be for your best friend or your professional athlete neighbor. Chronic conditions will also dictate which supplements are better than others. And as we mentioned earlier, if you’re trying to achieve a specific health goal such as weight loss, you’ll need different supplements from someone who is trying to improve their joint health.
One Supplement We Can All Benefit From – Multivitamins
Almost all of us can benefit from taking a high-quality multivitamin, especially if your typical daily diet falls short of the recommended veggie and fruit servings. Unfortunately, our typical diets are often high in processed foods — just about anything that comes from a box, bag, bottle or take-out container is in some way processed. The more processed a food is, the fewer nutrients it will contain.
With our busy lifestyles, it’s often hard to eat only foods made from wholesome, fresh ingredients. And there is always something trying to derail our healthy eating habits, whether it’s the box of donuts in the office, the tray of pastries at the coffee shop or the drive-thru when we’re starving and pressed for time. Taking a daily multivitamin can fill in nutritional deficiencies created by our less-than-perfect diets.
And even if you eat a fairly well-balanced diet and avoid dietary pitfalls, stress, illness, digestive issues or chronic conditions can also create nutritional deficiencies in your body. If you follow a specific diet plan such as vegan, vegetarian, paleo or keto, some of the foods you’ve eliminated from your diet contain nutrients your body needs. Taking a multivitamin daily can replace some of these lost nutrients.
One important thing to remember is that not all multivitamins are created equally. Some vitamins are full of synthetic ingredients, artificial dyes and other things that have no nutritional value — and they can even do more harm than good! You might be tempted to grab a low-cost, store brand multivitamin, but you should resist. Want to learn more about how to choose the right multivitamin?
What Other Supplements Should I Consider?
Again, this depends on what type of health concern or goal you have, but here are some of the more common reasons why people benefit from taking health supplements:
Weight Loss: Of course, merely popping weight-loss supplements into your mouth without making dietary or physical activity changes isn’t going to help you reach your weight loss goals! However, a well-designed, high-quality supplement can boost your energy and increase your body’s ability to burn fat. Look for supplements that contain natural ingredients that have been proven to help with weight loss such as green coffee bean extract.
- Green coffee extract contains caffeine, which can increase fat burning. It also contains the antioxidant chlorogenic acid, which may reduce the absorption of glucose in the small intestine and prohibit fat accumulation.
Detox: Many health experts believe our bodies accumulate toxins from the foods we eat and the environment. In addition to damaging to our body’s cells, toxins can also make us feel bloated and sluggish. These toxins can build up in every major area of the body including our vital organs, blood, skin, fat tissue and even in our brains. Using a carefully constructed detox supplement will rid your body of the toxins and excess water weight — and make you feel leaner and more energized.
- For the best results, look for a detox supplement that contains B vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, and pyridoxine. Dandelion extract is another ingredient that contains powerful antioxidants that have detoxing properties. Why are antioxidants important? Antioxidants help neutralize or prevent free radicals from damaging cells and causing oxidative stress.
Improved Sleep: Kudos to you if you can even carve out seven or eight hours to dedicate to sleep each night — but are you getting calm, restorative sleep?
If you’re like many of us, you’re probably getting a few hours of sleep, but tossing and turning either at the beginning of the night or toward the morning hours. Our immune system does most of its work at night, repairing the damage, replenishing supplies and putting our bodies’ “back in order.”
If you’re not getting restful sleep, your body’s defense mechanisms are less efficient.
On top of that, you’re likely to feel less energized, so even getting through a typical day is a challenge — and forget about having the energy to work out. If life throws one of its wrenches into our day, we’re less equipped to deal with the stress. Many of us want a non-drug option for a better night’s sleep and this is where a natural sleep supplement can help.
Some of the best natural sleep supplements contain ingredients are bodies produce internally, but our stressful lives, diet, and exposure to toxins interfere with the process and we end up deficient.
Look for sleep supplements that contain melatonin, which our bodies produce naturally in a perfect world. But don’t stop there — try to find sleep supplements that also contain ingredients such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is an amino acid our bodies produce. GABA produces a calming effect on the brain. Another element that the best sleep supplements often contain is 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). Our bodies also produce 5-HTP, an amino acid that our bodies use to make serotonin, which helps produce melatonin.
These are just a few of the natural supplements on the market today to help you feel better, improve your health or achieve a specific fitness or health goal. Just remember that not all supplements are created equally and, in many cases, the adage “you get what you pay for” is true in this case. It’s similar to buying a piece of furniture at Walmart, constructed from cheap materials and not built to last — versus buying a carefully handcrafted piece from a master carpenter who used the highest quality natural wood!
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