First of all, you should not take 1000 supplements. You'll go crazy...really crazy. And you'll probably feel sick, too. It might be tempting to try a supplement for some effect (most likely weight loss or boosted metabolism...am I right?), but resist the urge. If you DO believe something is good for you, try it and stick with it for a while. Some positive effects of legit supplements may not be noticeable for 30 to 60 days. When I say 'stick with it,' in no way am I referring to miserable supplements that contain stimulants like ephedra (or anything else that has been linked to heart damage). Steer clear!
All that said, here is my list of top five supplements. It's pretty basic, but if you're eating right and are otherwise healthy, this should be all you need.
1) Fish Oil
It's an omega 3 fatty acid and our bodies need them, but can't produce the. Therefore, omega 3s are called essential fatty acids. Experts suggest our ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1:4 to 1:12. I lean to 1:4. That said, the average person gets about 1:24 - which is way, way off. This funks up our bodies, opening the door for diseases, premature aging, inflammation, hormonal disruption and much more. Basically, we break down faster when we don't get this balance. Fish oil helps to even this out, improving the ratio.
I take Nordic Naturals liquid cod liver oil. It sounds gross, I know, but it's orange-flavored and a morning ritual for me, my kids and my husband. There are a lot of brands out on the market, but you truly get what you pay for. Cheap fish oil is probably not purified. Cod liver oil is higher in vitamin D, which is ideal through the shorter days of winter when we're not getting D from the sun! In the summer months, you can buy it with D extracted.
I'm not a doctor and can't diagnose, but to the best of my knowledge, the only time fish oil (or omega 3 supplementation) can be a problem is prior to surgery. It can affect how blood clots. Always let your doc know what supplements you're taking.
You need more good bacteria in your gut, I promise. Probiotics help to do that. There are so many different strains of probiotics, but the two I look for when I buy my probiotic include lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium. Lacto helps your small intestines get regular and bifido helps your large intestines get regular. We now know that bacteria "vacations" in our body. We used to think they colonized, pitched tents and lived there forever. As it turns out, probiotics just like to hang out for a while before clearing out. Thus, we need to replenish. Yogurt used to be able to do the trick, but it so horrifically pasteurized and sugarized that it does more harm than good (if you buy fruit-flavored).
Friends, if you're not able to clear out your colon every day, you really should take a good probiotic (and drink more water). Stress, caffeine, sugar, refined carbs and a lack of fiber can all create a perfect environment for constipation. Increasing water, vegetables and including a pro-B can get you back on track. I'm taking Ultimate Flora by Renew Life right now, and my kids take Primadophilus Kids by Nature's Way.
3) Digestive Enzyme
Digestive enzymes are probably the most understated supplements that our bodies really need. Enzymes are required to break down all foods, thereby making their nutrients available for absorption. If vitamins and minerals can't be absorbed, our bodies can't use them. Digestive enzymes help to make that happen - breaking down the vital nutrients that are then absorbed through the wall of our small intestine. As we get older (and it starts early), the amount of enzymes our bodies produce begin to diminish. Some of us are born without very much of certain types of enzymes. Just ask someone who is lactose intolerant. Their body doesn't have enough lactase (the enzyme) available to break it down. This can cause pain, discomfort and ultimately inflammation which can lead to a permeability in the lining of the small intestine - which can be a DISASTER. Bottom line: Our health is in our guts!
I like Renew Life enzymes. There are a lot on the market. Look for enzymes that contain protease (breaks down protein), lipase (breaks down fat) and amylase (breaks down carbs). There are more, but these are three keys to look for.
Some have more of a certain vitamin and some have less. Choose wisely. We simply don't get the same level of nutrients out of our foods as we used to. A quick word about why organic is king in this department. Take two oranges - one organic, one conventional. The organic has not been sprayed with pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. It's also not genetically modified. Therefore, the soil from which the orange grows is free from all that crap, too. So the amount of nutrients is inherently high. The conventional orange, on the other hand, has been sprayed and is probably genetically modified. So, the soil from where that orange grew was laden in poisons and junk. That's in the orange (in small doses), but it compounds. Oh, by the way...all those toxins are fat-soluble. This means that we can't just pee them out. They cling onto fat tissues and get absorbed by our bodies.
I know it costs more, but try to eat organic. You'll get more nutrients. Nonetheless, most of us can't eat a 100% organic diet, so a multivitamin is absolutely necessary.
5) Cinnamon: What? Cinnamon is a supplement? Well, in my world it is! Cinnamon is s staple in my diet day in and day out because it does such an excellent job balancing insulin. Insulin is a hormone. Think of insulin as a fat storage hormone. When it's out of whack, you're going to get belly fat. You can take cinnamon in capsule form, or you can add it to everything like me! I put it on oatmeal, cottage cheese, rice, fruits and some vegetables. To be honest, I buy it in bulk at Costco. I know you can spend tons of money on cinnamon, but I spend a few bucks and it seems to work like magic for me. Simply put: it controls my hunger, and could help you too!
Wait, don’t leave yet! If you’re not joining me on Facebook yet, now’s a great time. There’s a lot more information on nutrition, diet and fitness. I love talking with my fans and enjoy putting together fitness plans and body-specific meal plans…just for them! If you have any questions or comments, just let me know.