There has never been an ideal nutrition environment.
150 years ago, everything might have been organic, locally sourced, non-GMO, etc… but people living inland weren’t likely to get fresh deep-water fish, New Englanders weren’t getting citrus in the winter, and fresh dairy required you to own a cow.
Thankfully, modern convenience means all of those things are as close as your local grocery store. Unfortunately, that convenience brings with it preservatives, chemicals, plastics, pesticides, and a million other factors that sap the nutritional value out of the food we eat.
That is why we supplement: It’s an easy way to provide the body with all of the essential nutrients that are likely missing from our diets.
But with so many different supplements available, where should you start?
Vitamins are organic compounds made by plants or animals. Eating enough of those plants and animals, and in the right ratios isn’t easy. The “letter vitamins” like A, B, C, D, E & K are all examples. Every one of them is critical for keeping the body healthy, but getting enough isn’t always easy. These (along with minerals) make up the majority of the supplements you’ll see.
You should not eat dirt. You should eat things grown in dirt. Leafy green veggies, peppers, & fruits are excellent sources of many of the minerals. Minerals are inorganic elements that come from the soil and water, are absorbed by plants. Magnesium, Calcium & Potassium are examples of minerals we often don’t get enough of, especially as we grow older.
Those two categories cover the majority of the supplement products on the market, but they’re really just the beginning!
Most of us don’t have trouble getting enough fat in our diets, but we’re almost certainly getting the wrong kinds. Specifically, we need more fats from fish. Omega-3s are the major component of those fats. They are essential fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and seeds. Omega-3s have been proven to have various health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving heart health, and giving the brain what it needs to function properly.
Antioxidant compounds like phytonutrients and amino acids are also commonly found in supplements. Phytonutrients are plant-based compounds with antioxidant properties, while amino acids are the building blocks of protein. These nutrients can help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
Herbs and adaptogens have been used for centuries to alleviate various ailments. Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body cope with stress. Supplements containing herbs and adaptogens can help support overall health and well-being. Their range is far and wide, from mushrooms to holy basil to ashwagandha. They are usually part of a compound that uses multiple components to enhance the desired effect.
Non-food compounds such as melatonin are also available in supplement form. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body and helps regulate sleep. However, some people may not produce enough melatonin, leading to sleep disturbances. A compound containing melatonin, along with other nutrients, can help ease you back into a healthy sleep rhythm.
Another example is bacteria. Our bodies are covered in (and contain) trillions of different bacteria. Without it, we couldn’t digest any of the food we eat and we’d never be free of the fungus that’s trying to grow on our bodies! “Probiotics” are the term used for that beneficial gut bacteria. Many people find their digestion is never quite right, often because of a history of antibiotic use and a lack of fermented foods. A quality probiotic can help set that straight and have massive ripple effects throughout overall health.
Whether you’re looking to support your overall health, improve your sleep quality, or boost your immune system, with so many different types of supplements available, each with unique benefits, we’re likely to have a supplement that can help.
Still not sure where to start? We suggest these basics for nearly everyone!