I am not a fan of all the supplements in our industry but I usually recommend a few to my clients. Remember supplements are not intended to replace the natural food. This is why they’re called supplements. They’re designed to replace that 10-20% of the nutrients that we don’t receive from our food today. Always take your supplements on a full stomach and don’t take too many at once or you lose the ability to absorb all the nutrients. Last but not least, if your doctor prescribes you an iron supplement, do not take it with any medications or other supplements. Always take your iron pills couple of hours before or after medications or supplements. Iron oxidizes your fat-soluble vitamins and it is also hard on the liver. So for quicker absorption take it with orange or grapefruit juice rather than water.
Folic acid helps create new red blood cells to improve oxygen transportation. This is also a water-soluble vitamin, so it’s important to get into your daily diet. You can do this by consuming dark leafy greens (such as spinach, romaine lettuce, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens), asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits (papaya, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries), beans, peas, lentils, avocado, okra, brussel sprouts, seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, peanuts, flax seeds, almonds, cauliflower, beets, corn, celery, carrots, summer and winter squash. In addition, Folic Acid is a great prenatal vitamin.
This vitamin helps create red blood cells, preserves nerve cells and acts as a critical nutrient for a healthy neurological system. While your body stores some B12, taking it regularly is essential sometimes. You can work B12 into your diet by eating beef, mackerel, sardines, fortified cereals, red meat, salmon, fortified soy, milk, Swiss cheese, and yogurt.
Vitamin C is involved in creating connective tissue, protecting cells, improving wound healing and powering your immune system. When your diet lacks vitamin C, you’ll feel fatigued and could have muscle weakness. Your body doesn’t have a way to store vitamin C because it’s water soluble; thus, it’s a nutrient you want to take every day. Women need 75 milligrams daily and men need 90 milligrams every day. Up your intake by another 35 milligrams a day if you’re a smoker to give your body enough of the vitamin to reduce oxidative stress associated with cigarette smoke. Foods you can eat to get Vitamin C include ged, green, and yellow peppers, guavas, dark leafy greens, kiwis, broccoli, strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papayas.
While helping your body absorb calcium for strong bones is one of vitamin D’s biggest jobs, the vitamin also makes cells grow, minimizes inflammation and runs your immune system. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, allowing your body to store it. Simply spending a few minutes outside during midday sunlight hours can help your body make the vitamin D you need, but the sun’s rays are also linked to skin cancer. Therefore, you need a supplement or food to get the vitamin. The foods you can eat include fatty fishes (tuna, mackerel, and salmon), orange juice, soy milk, cereals, beef, cheese, and eggs.
Vitamin E is used for treating diabetes and its complications. It is also used for preventing cancer, particularly lung and oral cancer in smokers; colorectal cancer and polyps; and gastric, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Foods that already contain Vitamin E include vegetable oils, cereals, meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and wheat germ oil.
Calcium is needed to maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis. Foods that contain calcium include cheese, yogurt, milk, sardines, dark leafy greens, fortified cereals, orange juice, soybeans, soy milk, and enriched grains.
Iron is a mineral responsible for carrying oxygen in your red blood cells and transmitting nerve impulses. Not having enough iron in the body is known as anemia. Anemia symptoms include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating. You can get iron in your diet through squash and pumpkin seeds, chicken, seafood (oysters, mussels, clams), nuts (cashews, pines, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds), beef, lamb, beans, whole grains, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, and tofu.
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids called DHA and EPA which are essential for optimal functioning of the heart and brain. They reduce arterial inflammation, which can lower your risk for a heart attack. Fish oil is also associated with a 32% reduced risk of breast cancer. Salmon, sardines, oysters, and herring all contain fish oil. When looking for fish oil supplements, look for brands that contain a 2 to 1 ratio of DHA to EPA.
Probiotics are used when your body loses “good” bacteria in the body (typically after you take antibiotics). One type of probiotic is bifidobacterium, which is also found in dairy products. Bifidobacterium can ease the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Infectious Diarrhea. They can also help with skin conditions, urinary and vaginal health, preventing allergies and colds, and oral health. Foods with probiotics are yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, soft cheeses, sourdough bread, buttermilk, and pickles.
When to Take the Vitamins
- If you take a large dose of a mineral, it will compete with other minerals to reduce their absorption. The mineral most often taken in large amounts is calcium. The dose is usually several hundred of milligrams, compared to doses of just a few milligrams or even microgram amounts (1,000 micrograms = 1 milligram) of most other minerals. So if you take a calcium supplement, take it at a different time of day than other mineral supplements or a multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement.
- Some vitamins can actually enhance the absorption of other nutrients. Vitamin C for example, can enhance iron absorption from supplements and plant foods.
- The fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E) are likely to be better absorbed if taken with a meal that contains fats.