What supplements should I take every day? What can I take to boost my energy? What are the best vitamins?
As I wrote in my last post on food supplements, it’s complicated. Not all supplements are actually good for us.
I went back to the experts – Amy Goodson, a top sports dietitian; Kat Odell, a bestselling health and wellness author; and Rebecca Lwin, a registered dietitian specialising in health for expatriates, for a roundup of their personal favourites:
The sports dietitian – Amy Goodson
Tart cherry juice/powder – Tart cherries have the highest antioxidant content of any food and have been shown to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Tart cherry juice is juice of course, and does contain a decent amount of carbohydrate, so if you’re looking to lose weight need you’ll need to factor this in.
Protein powder – Protein powders of all kinds (soy, pea, egg white, whey) are a really convenient way to add protein into foods. In the sports recovery world, whey protein is touted at the most popular because it contains the highest amount of branch chain amino acids, specifically leucine, the “light switch” for muscle building.
Pre-Workout Mixes – Pre-workout powders and drinks are all created a little differently based on the brand, but most are a cocktail of carbohydrate, caffeine, amino acids, creatine and often beta-alanine, and some contain other vitamins as well. These are really designed to give people energy from the caffeine and carbohydrate and possibly provide a performance boost from creatine. I would caution the use of creatine however, as it can cause weight gain when taken on a consistent basis.
Fish Oil – Fish oil gets praise because of its omega-3s which can contribute to reducing inflammation at the cellular level, help raise good cholesterol and lower triglycerides. You can also reap the benefits from eating foods like salmon, trout, tuna, soybeans, walnuts and their oils.
Collagen – Collagen works with your body’s natural processes to help heal itself from within. There is some initial research that suggests it might also help reduce the discomfort associated with certain types of arthritis. It can be an added protein source in smoothies, soups or other foods.
Beetroot Powder – Beets are naturally high in nitrate and consuming nitrate rich foods can help the body in taking on more oxygen and nutrients to the working muscle, making its workload lighter. Take note, beetroot powder and juices might make your urine an interesting red color!
The food and nutrition author – Kat Odell
Collagen. Collagen is a favourite of mine. It dissolves with pretty much zero taste in beverages, and it’s great for the skin. A bonus, it creates awesome silky drinks without the dairy.
Tocos. Tocos is a nutrient-rich powder made from brown rice bran. It’s a great skin food, as it’s really high in vitamin E. It’s super versatile; it tastes likes vanilla and is great in milkshakes, on yogurt or in drinks.
Reishi. Reishi is a mushroom grown in parts of Asia. It’s an adapotgen, i.e. it’s used in traditional medicine to help our body resist biological stress. Some studies suggest that it can help boost immunity, improve good cholesterol, and help fight fatigue and depression.
Tumeric. I am a big believer that modern medicine with continue to reveal how beneficial turmeric is to us. It’s a brilliant all round medicine; a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It has many health benefits, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer, and may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
The expat dietitian – Rebecca Lwin
Multivitamins – I usually recommend a mix without iron, especially for men. As I mentioned previously it’s important to be aware of how nutrients interact with each other.
Fish oil – fish oil contributes omega-3 fatty acids to the diet and helps improve the dietary ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (found in vegetable oils.) Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory and can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Magnesium citrate – Magnesium is important in muscle contraction and relaxation, and I often recommend it for my athletes. It can also benefit people with mild sleep disturbances too.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and immune booster. It can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and dementia. In fact this supplement is probably my most common recommendation to my clients, as the US recommendation daily allowance for Vitamin C is woefully low.
Zinc – The body doesn’t produce zinc, so it’s essential we get it in our diets. It’s vital for our immunity, for growth, metabolism and development and I especially recommend it for my vegetarian clients as they can often have a low intake.
Probiotics – Probiotics are very important for our gut health as they help create a positive bacterial environment in our intestines. They can be aid with weight loss by improving digestive health, as well as boosting immune function, and more. Really, everyone can benefit from these.
L-glutamine – L-glutamine can help promote gut cell turnover, which can be beneficial for people with IBS.
Do you take vitamins or supplements? Which ones and why? This is new territory for me so I’d love to hear your thoughts (leave a comment below).
All the experts listed here strongly advise consulting with a doctor before taking any supplements.
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is an award winning dietitian and spokesperson on health, wellness and sports nutrition. She has worked with top athletes, including the Dallas Cowboys and PGA Tour players, and develops nutrition and wellness programs, presentations and workshops for businesses. amygoodsonrd.com
Rebecca Lwin, MS, RD is a nutrition consultant, boot camp trainer, and professional athlete. She is a sought-after speaker on health & wellness in Manila, Philippines, and has clients worldwide. She specializes in nutrition and wellness for expats and offers personalized consultations via Skype. thexpatdietitian.com
Kat Odell is author of Unicorn Food, a collection of healthy, vibrant recipes that are as fun to eat as they are good for you and Day Drinking, a compilation of low-alcohol cocktails that are festive, mouthwateringly delicious, and light on the booze.