If you eat a meal consisting of whole foods, organic meats, and limit sugar, alcohol and caffeine you’re getting sufficient nutrients. However, the one thing you should know is that the idea of “sufficient” is based on the bare minimum your body needs.
As a nutritionist, I understand that supplements have their place in your diet, and in most cases are necessary to support your overall wellness. There’s a lot of them out there and they claim to do many great things.
A harsh truth that most people won’t tell you about supplements is that most of them contain the same ingredients. You don’t need a B-complex vitamin, biotin, and B12 supplement if you’re taking a multivitamin that contains B vitamins. It’s overkill and your body is just going remove what it doesn’t need. Always look at the label when you’re buying supplements.
Supplements are just what their name indicates – a supplement to your diet. The one thing supplements aren’t are a substitute for a bad diet. As long as you’re eating a diet rich in whole foods, a high-quality multivitamin is likely all you need to ensure you’re getting optimal levels of key nutrients for your body. The more active you are, the more other supplements such as protein, glutamine, and collagen should be considered. Always talk to your doctor before taking any supplement.
With that said, here are 4 supplements I suggest as a nutritionist that everyone should take, especially if you have an active lifestyle.
1. A Multivitamin
Everyone should be taking a multivitamin. The truth is that it’s difficult to get enough nutrients from food alone. Our food quality is not what it once was, so even nutrient-dense foods such as kale, leafy green vegetables, and organic meats likely doesn’t have the amounts of key nutrients your body needs.
Look for a multivitamin that includes minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and zinc to aid in absorption. Be careful with iron, as too much can be dangerous. If you’re not iron deficient (anemia), talk with your doctor about supplementing with iron.
Also make sure it includes high amounts of vitamin B12 and other B vitamins. Your body cannot make B vitamins on its own, so the only way you can get it is through your food or supplementation. B vitamins are water soluble, so whatever your body doesn’t use it will get rid of through your urine. That’s what causes that neon-yellow coloring.
Glutamine is a something you likely have taken in a supplement before and may not have known it. If you are working out regularly, then glutamine is something you should be supplementing. As a matter of fact, glutamine is a key ingredient in most post-workout products.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your body. It’s synthesized from glutamate and ammonia in your muscles. Glutamine aids in the formation of protein and cell growth. It is a popular ingredient in most post-workout supplements for this very reason. Glutamine is also abundant in meat, especially chicken, freshwater fish, leafy green vegetables, and dairy.
So why is glutamine so important? Not only does it build cells and proteins, it also supports your immune system, muscle recovery, and overall gut health. Glutamine is what sends nutrients to where they are needed.
Even though your body produces its own glutamine it’s important to supplement if you are an active person. The reason is that your body will deplete its natural sources of it the more active you are. If you do intense workouts, your body is likely short on its glutamine supply.
Protein is the building blocks of your body. A complete protein is a chain of 9 essential amino acids that repair cells and builds new ones. Your body needs protein to carry oxygen throughout the body, support digestion, and regulate certain body processes. What’s more, protein curbs sugar cravings, boosts fat metabolism, supports weight loss, and keeps you filling full.
Many fitness trainers will tell you that whey and casein protein is the best protein to use to bulk up. While true, the one thing they aren’t telling you is that If you have a dairy sensitivity or are lactose intolerant, whey and casein protein isn’t going to do you any favors and is doing more harm than good.
Additionally, I have some bad news for those who use plant-based protein. That plant-based protein does not have all 9 essential amino acids, which means you aren’t getting a complete protein. The only way to get all 9 essential amino acids is through animal protein.
Since you can only get the amino acids that make up a complete protein from animal sources, a good paleo protein from grass-fed animal sources is your best option if you have a dairy sensitivity or a lactose intolerance. The one challenge is that there aren’t many out there and can cost up to $75.
4. Collagen Peptides
Collagen supplements can be a dime a dozen. Collagen is a protein your body naturally makes and is found in your skin, hair, nails and connective tissues. It is the most abundant protein in the human body. As you age, your body produces less collagen. By the time you are 30, your body starts losing collagen faster than it can make it.
Collagen provides structure to your skin, bones, tendons, cartilage in your joints, and supports your skin. It is also essential for gut health. Collagen can only come from animal sources and is found in beef, chicken, seafood, and eggshell membranes. If you see a plant-based collagen product, it’s either not really plant based or not really collagen.
One thing to look for when buying collagen is the word “hydrolyzed.” Collagen is not easily absorbed by your body. When collagen is hydrolyzed, it’s broken down into smaller, easy-to-process particles. Also know that hydrolyzed collagen and collagen peptides are the same thing. There is no need to buy two different collagen products.
Supplements have their place in every diet, but they shouldn’t be a replacement for a whole foods diet. If you’re eating a diet full of whole foods, you’re getting enough nutrients from what you are eating and should only use a multivitamin. However, if you are an active person then supplements are necessary to add additional support to your diet since you body can deplete key nutrients quicker.
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Medical disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. While I am a certified nutritionist and wellness coach, I am not providing healthcare, medical, or nutritional therapy services or attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any physical, mental, or emotional issue. The information provided on this website or any materials provided by Very Well Wellness is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before undertaking a new health regimen. Do not disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical advice because of information you read on this website or any materials provided by Very Well Wellness. Do not start or stop any medications without speaking to your medical or mental health provider.
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