What Supplements Should I Take to Support My Health & Wellness
One of the most searched questions on Google is “what supplements should I take”. And to be candid, that question misses the mark. It is not a question of “what supplements should I take”, it is a question of “do I need to take any supplements”.
Rephrasing the question “what supplements should I take?” may leave you doing more calculations in your head than before. And you may be questioning, why do I even need to rephrase it? Shouldn’t I be taking vitamins and supplements to support my health and wellness?
The answer relies heavily on every individual’s diet, age, habits, and health conditions. These factors greatly contribute to whether or not one needs to take supplements to support their health and wellness.
- Always consult with a doctor or dietician before starting supplements, you may not need them for your health and wellness
- Supplements are not substitutes for a well-rounded diet
Crash course of the supplement industry
The supplement industry found stable footing in the 1920s in the United States. The industry has evolved immensely since then. To date, the supplement industry makes over $100 billion a year marketing its products to consumers.
It was not until 1994 when Congress passed a bill requiring the regulation of the industry with the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994. The act outsourced to the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academics for ingredient safety and a framework for ingredient review.
The only regulation the supplement industry faces from the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) is the prohibition of marketing supplements and their ingredients falsely. The FDA also has good manufacturing practices that help ensure the quality, strength, and identity of your supplements.
Unfortunately, the FDA does not review each product to ensure any of these regulations are followed, despite having the regulations in place. It is the manufacturers’ job to ensure they are following all protocols.
Luckily, private companies such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, and ConsumerLab review products to ensure they were properly manufactured, contain the ingredients on the label, and does not contain harmful level of contaminants. However, it is important to note that even if these products have a seal of approval from these companies, it does not mean the product is safe or effective (National Institutes of Health).
Social media has also certainly taken the supplement industry to the next level with influencers promoting supplements to their followers. These ads and other health myths can be misleading and potentially harmful! I am happy to say we have nutritionists taking a stand on Instagram and TikTok to help combat supplement and nutrition myths to give pure nutrition facts.
Are supplements beneficial?
So, the elephant in the room. Are supplements beneficial? And the answer is yes! They can be if you need them. The keyword here is need.
A supplement by definition is “something that completes or enhances something else when added to it”. This definition emphasizes that supplements are meant to fill gaps in diets and nutrition, not sustain these by themselves.
Doctors and nutritionists around the globe agree on one matter. The best way to get your micronutrients is through a well-balanced, healthy diet. Doctors and nutritionists also recommend shifting your eating habits before taking supplements.
How do I know if I need supplements?
Unfortunately, you cannot Google “what supplements should I take” and have an answer. The best course of action is to meet with a nutritionist or doctor prior to taking any supplement.
Professionals can evaluate your diet and bloodwork to see if you are deficient in any areas and need supplements to help your body meet its needs. Professionals can also give you recommendations on safe brands and daily dosages, as well as vitamins to avoid if you are on other medications.
Taking vitamins without a consult can be potentially dangerous to your health and wellness.
Common supplements taken by U.S. adults
The best thing we can do for you here at Mirra is to equip you with information to evaluate your body’s needs. We have outlined 5 common supplements taken by U.S. adults, highlighting common causes for adults to begin taking them and more. This list may give you signs that you do, or do not need to consult with a professional.
We beg of you, please do not read this list and go out and buy supplements. If you believe you may have gaps in your diet and these supplements may be beneficial, consult with your nutritionist or doctor first.
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that helps produce red blood cells, cell metabolism, nerve function, and the production of DNA. Meat, fish, and dairy products are the main source of vitamin B12 in a diet.
Unlike other water-soluble B vitamins, vitamin B12 is stored in the body in large quantities. Deficiency in B12 is rare.
Vegan, vegetarians, and older adults with digestive conditions are prone to vitamin B12 deficiencies because their bodies are not absorbing any or less B12.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is necessary for building and maintaining strong bones. Vitamin D plays a large role in bone health because the body can only absorb calcium when vitamin D is present. Vitamin D also supports immune health, muscle function, and brain cell activity.
The biggest source of vitamin D is the sun, however, you can receive vitamin D from fortified milk, fatty fish, and fortified cereal. Surprisingly, about 42% of the population is deficient in vitamin D due to lack of sun exposure.
3. Folate (Folic Acid)
Folate is crucial to red blood cell formation and healthy cell growth and function. Not only is this nutrient crucial to our bodies, but it is also crucial to developing children in the early stages of pregnancy to reduce risks of birth defects in the brain and spine.
Folate is found in a handful of foods including nuts, leafy greens, beans, oranges, lemons, bananas, melons, and strawberries. It can also be found in fortified cereals and pasta.
Diet and conditions such as celiac can lead to a folate deficiency due to lack of intake and malabsorption syndromes. Women who are planning to get pregnant or are pregnant are recommended to take 600 mcg more of folate a day, which is why many turn to prenatal vitamins to help fill the gap in their needs.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a key player in maintaining health and wellness. The body needs it to form cartilage, produce collagen, muscle, and more. Not to mention it helps store and absorb iron. It is also an antioxidant that protects against free radical breakdowns, such as smoke and UV rays.
Citrus fruits, potatoes, peppers, Brussels sprouts, and more are great sources of vitamin C. Smokers or those frequently exposed to secondhand smoke as well as those with gastrointestinal conditions or limited intake of fruit and veggies are susceptible to vitamin C deficiencies.
Probiotics are foods that have live microorganisms that maintain or improve good gut bacteria. They are predominately found in yogurt.
Probiotics are predominately used to treat gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea, constipation, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis. There is promising research for it as a treatment option for eczema, vaginal infections, and urinary tract infections.
If you’ve asked yourself “what supplements should I take” ask yourself if you need to take them! To learn more about supplements and your body, find trusted, registered dieticians online. You can also look for Ted Talks and books on the subject. Fortify Your Life is a recommended read for the supplement industry. Doing your research, listening to your body, and consulting with a doctor or dietician is critical prior to starting any supplements.
Written by Lauren Conklin