by Becca Borawski Jenkins
The world of supplements can be confusing. There are so many! The names can be complicated and the applications even more so. Which supplements do you really need and which are just wasted money? You don’t want to be a body-builder and you don’t want to deal with this stuff!
But, what if supplementation helped you – a normal person – feel better, perform better, and live longer? The truth is, due to our modern methods of farming and food processing, even those of us eating healthy, well-rounded diets are at risk of not consuming enough of the essential ingredients our body needs.
This article is the first in a two part series breaking down the mystery of supplements. This week we talk about the essential daily supplements everyone needs; next week we discuss eight additional options that could be right for you.
Four Essential Supplements
Despite the massive amount of pills, liquids, and powders available to us, there are four supplements just about everyone I follow in the world of nutrition agrees upon:
1. Fish Oil:
It is hard to avoid the news about fish oil these days. Omega-3’s seem to be responsible for everything from maintaining muscle and decreasing body fat, to healing strokes, to helping women have healthy babies. Put simply, fish oil helps reduce inflammation and promotes healthy cell growth. In practical terms this means less joint pain, faster healing, and shiny hair and nails. In the long term it could mean avoiding autoimmune diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and more. There may be some people eating enough high quality fish and grass-fed meats who do not need to supplement omega-3’s, but the majority of us could use it.
Recommended dosage: See the Robb Wolf Fish Oil Calculator
2. Vitamin D:
A rising incidence of Vitamin D deficiency is being reported in the news frequently these days. We are supposed to get our Vitamin D from the sun, but depending on your geographic location, your use of sunblock, and the tribulations of modern life, that may be easier said than done. And, as it turns out, Vitamin D is important for more than just bone health and mood disorders – it has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune diseases.1
Recommended brand: Carlson Super Daily D3 drops
Recommended dosage: At least 5,000 IU2
Most of us know magnesium has something to do with calcium and something to do with getting a good night’s sleep. What does magnesium actually do in our bodies? A whole lot. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, “Every single cell in the human body demands adequate magnesium to function, or it will perish. Strong bones and teeth, balanced hormones, a healthy nervous and cardiovascular system, well functioning detoxification pathways and much more depend upon cellular magnesium sufficiency.”3 It should also be noted, your Vitamin D doesn’t work without the proper levels of magnesium. Without magnesium supplementation, we risk everything from muscle cramping, to osteoporosis, to depression, to hypertension.
Recommended brand: Natural Calm
Recommended dosage: 300-2,000mg
4. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA):
You probably haven’t heard of this one if you aren’t already a bit of a nutrition geek. ALA is a powerful antioxidant. That means it eats up free radicals (waste products) in the body that can cause damage to our cells. It also restores our levels of vitamins C and E. Unlike other antioxidants, ALA is both water and fat soluble, which means it can travel anywhere in the body to do its work. ALA has been proven to help with diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and alleviating neuropathy.4 Other benefits of ALA include benefits to eye, brain, and cardiovascular health in general.