5 essential health supplements you may need
With so many supplements advertised, how can you know which ones are really worth it? There’s no definitive list of essential health supplements. We should aim to get our nutrients from food, but sometimes we come up short. Because everyone’s diet varies, our vitamin and mineral needs vary, too. These five supplements are essential to our health, and we may be lacking them through diet alone.
1. Vitamin D
Ideally, you’d get all your vitamin D from the sun. However, you need to protect your skin, and when you wear sunscreen, you’re blocking vitamins, along with the harmful rays. It’s also harder to get enough sun exposure in the winter when days are shorter. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a range of health conditions, while long-term use of vitamin D supplements has been shown to reduce mortality, according to a study published on PLOSOne.
Calcium and vitamin D work together to help build strong bones, so consume enough calcium-rich foods throughout the day.
2. Fish oil
Omega-3 fatty acids — that super-healthy component found in fish — may not protect from heart attacks, as once thought, according to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. It’s one of the most popular health supplements on the market and could lower triglyceride levels. However, it’s best to talk to your doctor about what’s right for you. If you can’t stand to eat fish, you may benefit from the supplement, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
3. B vitamins
Getting enough of all eight B vitamins is essential to your body’s overall health, explained Medline. Many people are able to get these vitamins through food. However, some people, such as vegans or vegetarians, may struggle to get vitamins primarily found in animal foods, such as B12. Many B-complex vitamins are available, and multivitamins contain these. It’s best to find out first if you have a deficiency. Your doctor can evaluate symptoms — fatigue or weakness is common — and perform a blood test to know for certain.
A growing body of research supports the benefits of a positive balance of gut bacteria to your overall health. This good bacteria has been found to help with intestinal troubles and some infections, according to Harvard Medical School. Yogurt is a popular source of probiotics, but you may want to try a supplement if you’re not getting enough from your diet.
Many Americans consume less than the recommended amounts of magnesium through diet alone. However, having symptoms or a true deficiency is uncommon. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) warned that consistently getting lower amounts of the mineral can boost your risk of illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and migraines.
It’s best to talk with your doctor before running out and buying any supplements or starting on a multivitamin. There’s little oversight from the Food and Drug Administration for any herbal supplement, making it difficult to evaluate whether the claims are true. Harvard Health explained that people are commonly deficient in potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, D and C. However, if you’re not deficient, you can get too much of a good thing. There are some negative effects from too much of some vitamins, including A, E and folic acid, according to Harvard Medical School.
The NIH recommended that multivitamins may be best for people with certain health conditions, pregnant women and people with poor diets. If you have a generally healthy diet, look for specific supplements that you’re not getting through whole food. Always read labels to see whether a vitamin would put you over the recommended daily limit for any nutrients. Blood tests can confirm whether you have any true deficiencies that warrant taking essential health supplements.
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