The dietary supplement market in the United States is a multimillion dollar industry, and everyone seems to have a different idea about which supplements are the most beneficial. The wealth of information is enough to make some consumers throw their hands up in frustration, but the truth is, there are actually a handful of supplements that are almost universally beneficial. While it’s wise to check with your doctor or pharmacist first, consider adding these to your vitamin regimen.
A good multivitamin benefits everyone, from young children to the elderly. While many people look to once-daily formulas for convenience, many of these are deficient in several areas, so compare the labels carefully. A complete formula should include B vitamins in their natural forms and minerals that are packaged in their natural forms or have been chelated (bonded to amino acids to improve absorption in the digestive tract). Higher-quality, pharmaceutical-grade vitamins are generally easier to digest and often have better absorption levels than their counterparts.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been the subject of a number of recent studies, all of which support its use for optimal general health, but its greatest benefits may be to the heart. Omega-3 supplementation may help reduce total cholesterol and may raise the level of HDL cholesterol—the good cholesterol. Studies also show that Omega-3s may lower triglycerides and inhibit high blood pressure and are necessary for brain growth and development in infants.
A good Omega-3 supplement should contain an approximate 2:1 ratio of EPA and DHA from cold water fish (EPA and DHA content are clearly identified on labeling). With fish oil supplements, consumers tend to get what they pay for, so it’s a good idea to do a little research about the company’s quality standards. Inferior supplements may include filler fish oils that can upset the digestive system and may even be polluted by heavy metals like mercury. Many quality fish oil supplements are coated to avoid a fishy aftertaste.
Most multivitamins don’t have enough calcium to help build bone and prevent osteoporosis. An additional calcium supplement is a good idea for all adults, and it’s important to look for a highly-absorbable source as not all calcium supplements are created equal. Microcrystalline Hydroxyapatite Compound (MCHC) is calcium from bone, and is one of the most readilyabsorbed
over the counter calcium sources on the market.
Another well-absorbed form of calcium is calcium citrate. This form often comes with Vitamin D added to increase absorption. Other calcium sources, such as calcium carbonate and oyster shell forms, may be poorly absorbed or cause gastrointestinal upset, so choose your supplement carefully. A doctor or pharmacist can advise you on the proper level of supplementation.
Probiotics are good germs that colonize in the digestive tract. These good bacteria help keep pathogenic germs at bay by crowding them out. Probiotics aid in digestion and assist in the removal of toxins from the body. Consequently, they can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and diarrhea and/or constipation. Probiotics are safe and beneficial for virtually everyone.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and a highly effective antioxidant. Supplementing your diet with extra vitamin C can help boost immunity and may even help slow the aging process by protecting the cells from damage by free radicals. Again, it’s best to look for a pharmaceutical-grade source of vitamin C to enhance absorption and reduce the incidence of digestive upset.
There’s an abundance of seemingly contradictory information about nutritional supplements out there, so it’s always best to check with a doctor or pharmacist when starting new supplements. But multivitamins, essential fatty acids, probiotics, calcium, and vitamin C are almost universally beneficial and can help to prevent illness, so consider including these supplements to your family’s daily routine. Be well!
Shannon Fields is a freelance writer and a Certified Pharmacy Technician at Innovative Pharmacy Solutions. She holds a BA in Psychology with a minor in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. Shannon lives in Edmond with her husband and two daughters.