My recommended top 10 supplements, their benefits and food sources:
1. High quality multi-vitamin, mineral supplement– a quality vitamin and mineral formulation acts as an insurance policy to your nutrition, especially for those with a fast paced high stress job. Due to food being over produced, the nutrient content of our foods is far less then it was years ago. The soil does not contain the nutrients it did, because our food is being picked too early and the soil is over cropped. Preventing vitamin deficiency will provide energy-supporting nutrients to get through daily obligations and recovery-supporting nutrients at night to support adequate sleep and repair.
2. Omega- 3 fish oil– Omega- 3 fatty acids have been shown to help in brain health/development, decrease symptoms of depression, support weight management & metabolism, decrease inflammation, & important in heart health. Any inflammation in the body can cause excess weight gain, this supplement is not only good for your brain and heart, it is also good for your waistline. Great sources of omega 3 fatty acids include cold water fish such as wild caught salmon and sardines. Because we are getting too much Omega-6 from current food supply/diet & not enough Omega-3, supplementing with Omega-3 has become absolutely necessary. Omega- 3 fatty acids should also be consumed by those who are pregnant or trying to be pregnant; DHA (DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID) is essential for developing a fetus’s brain in the womb.
3. Multi-probiotic– If you feel like you get bloated after eating certain foods, have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or suffer with skin issues like eczema, probiotics can help reduce those symptoms. Probiotics, or live bacteria, help support healthy bacteria balance in the gut. Active ingredients may be beneficial for individuals who have a history of taking antibiotics, stress, or digestive dysfunction- all of which imbalance gut flora. Multi-probiotics capsules should contain 4 billion active cultures from 7 different strains and prebiotics that support the immunity and balance in the gut lining. Live cultures can be found in foods such as yogurt, kefir, miso or sauerkraut.
4. Calcium and Magnesium– If you always feel like your muscles are tight and cannot loosen up, or worse you cramp severely while you sleep or during exercise, magnesium is a simple supplement that you should consider. Magnesium is the most common nutrient deficiency in the U.S. Magnesium is used in energy production, nerve and muscle activity, detoxification, blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, & bone health. Calcium contributes to bone health especially in women. Calcium and Magnesium are best taken together. Food sources of Calcium and Magnesium include sardines, collard greens, spinach, nuts, legumes and seafood.
5. Vitamin D-3– If you feel like you get a little winter blues/depression or you have severe low blood sugars if you go too long without food, vitamin D is a simple supplement that can reduce these symptoms. Vitamin D is the 2nd most common deficiency in Americans. The benefits include: bone health, blood pressure regulation, glucose balance, immune health, mental health, and weight management. The best source of vitamin D is from the sun, but in the winter months or those who work indoors, supplementation may be necessary.
6. Chromium- If you feel like you cannot control your carbohydrate and sugar consumption, supplementing with chromium may be your best bet. Take it about an hour before your biggest meal or when you find yourself having strong cravings for sugar or starches. It is a trace mineral that helps metabolize carbohydrates, reduces carbohydrate/food cravings, monitors blood sugar levels, regulates fat and cholesterol and can also prevent hypertension and blood pressure. The food sources of chromium are brewer’s yeast, coffee, tea, cereals, potatoes, peas, oysters, rye, thyme, processed meats, whole grains, and beer. Unfortunately these food sources only contain minimal amounts of chromium and benefits may not be noticed without supplementation.
7. Branched Chain Amino Acids are essential nutrients that the body obtains from proteins found in food, especially meat, dairy products, and legumes. If you want to maintain the muscle that you work hard for at the gym or training in general, take BCAA’s. They include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. “Branched-chain”, refers to the chemical structure of these amino acids. Branch chain amino acids help maintain lean muscle mass, especially during and after strenuous workouts. Those who supplement with branch chain amino acids prevent muscle wasting and maintain lean muscle mass better than those who do not supplement.
8. B-complex– is comprised of the essential B Vitamins – Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B9, Vitamin B12 plus the vitamins Biotin, Choline and Inositol. If you feel like your energy is low, it could be lack of B-vitamins; supplement with a B-complex and you will notice improvements in your overall energy. Vitamin B Complex is needed for the proper functioning of almost every process in the body, including increasing energy, improved digestion, thyroid, improved hair, skin and nails. Sources of B vitamins include red meat, whole-grain breads and cereals, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, legumes, berries, brewer’s yeast and egg yolks.
9. Ascorbic Acid (also known as vitamin C) improves the immune system, adrenal gland function and has numerous healing properties. For those who have stressful, fast paced careers or life situations, they many have increased cortisol (stress hormone) production resulting in increased belly fat. Ascorbic acids, also known as vitamin C, can help reduce the harmful effects of excessive cortisol production, keeping you from gaining excessive body fat around the mid-section. Great sources of vitamin C/ ascorbic acid include: citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries and brussel sprouts.
10. Zinc is especially important for men, it maintains a healthy prostate and optimal testosterone levels, maintaining overall libido and sex health in both men and women. Zinc is an essential mineral, required by the body for maintaining a sense of smell, keeping a healthy immune system, building proteins, triggering enzymes, and creating DNA. Zinc also helps the cells in your body communicate, by functioning as a neurotransmitter. A deficiency in zinc can lead to stunted growth, diarrhea, impotence, hair loss, eye and skin lesions, impaired appetite, and depressed immunity. Food sources for zinc include: meat, oysters, nuts, seeds and legumes. You can overdose on zinc, so talk to your doctor or dietitian about the proper dosage.
What are three things you should know when buying/selecting vitamins, including are liquid or pills better for you?
1. Look for a supplement that is a capsule versus a tablet; capsules have a better absorption rate then tablets and a more stable shelf life then liquids. Liquids have an excellent absorption rate, but if you are not taking it within a few weeks of purchasing it, the formulation may become compromised.
2. Look for a GMP (Good manufacturing practice) stamp on the supplement. This ensures that the label is true to form and the ingredients are of the highest quality and for omega- 3 supplements, they are mercury tested.
3. Avoid one tablet per day of multi-vitamins. It is nearly impossible for our bodies to absorb all if the nutrients from a 1 per day formulation. It is best to take supplements in the morning and evening to spread out nutrients and more importantly increase absorption of the vitamins and minerals, rather than the body passing them through and coming out in urine or bowels. If the recommended dosage for a supplement is greater than one capsule, split it up and take it in the morning and evening.
Be sure and order your copy of Dr. Kantor’s highly praised new book What Matters: Leadership Values that Just Might Save America. Proceeds from sales benefit the American Diabetes Foundation, the All-Natural Food Council of North America, the Natural Products Association.