In a perfect world we would consume all of the needed nutrients for good health through diet alone.
However, this is far from a perfect world.
Our diets are not nourishing us like they should be, and this is due to a number of reasons.
Why we need vitamins
First, most of us don’t eat “clean” 100% of time. We don’t always eat the recommended servings for fruits and vegetables and we have been known, on occasion, to eat from a box instead of a home-cooked meal.
Second, the foods today do not possess the same nutrients that they used to (due to poor soil quality and GMOs), and third we are not getting the variety of foods, on a daily basis, that we should be to cover the gamut of nutrients we need to function our best with.
All of these leave gaps in our diet that need to be filled by vitamins and supplements.
This does not, however, give you free rein to eat what you want because you can supplement good health.
You will always get more from a vegetable and a piece of fruit than you will from a pill.
The best vitamins you should be taking
To find out what the best vitamins and supplements most people should be taking on a regular basis I consulted with Halina Kwiatkowska, owner and operator of Ladner’s sweetest little health store Parsley, Sage and Thyme.
I wanted to know if there were certain vitamins that we should be taking, and if so, do these recommendations change as we get older.
For all ages Kwiatkowska recommends a:
– A good multi-vitamin
– A probiotic
(Note: These are general recommendation. Grab a more detailed and specific recommendation for your health by visiting Parsley, Sage and Thyme).
She explains that a multivitamin is a “foundational supplement” containing vitamins and minerals (and in some cases other nutrients as well), considered necessary for our daily functioning.
Think of a multivitamin as our “insurance”. A little extra added protection for our health.
You can also buy multivitamins specific to your gender, as we well as your age group and other specific conditions like prenatal or active multi’s for athletes, tailoring your multi to your life and lifestyle.
I am in love with this brand of multivitamin and I buy the over 40 women blend.
Probiotics are recommended for a healthy digestive tract and gut. They are the healthy bacteria keeping our gut, and our health, happy.
Unfortunately, our modern North American diet, accompanied with overmedication and over-sterilization, has stripped us of essential, beneficial bacteria in our gut and we need to supplement with a probiotic to counteract this.
Probiotics will help to keep our digestion and absorption going, not to mention help support our immune system so we can fight off infections, flus, colds and other illnesses.
Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as:
These are not foods a lot of us eat on a regular basis, though, which is understandable why they are a recommended supplement.
30-Day Diet Bootcamp
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How to drop the fat.
Omega-3’s are essential to our health as well. However, as essential as they are our bodies we cannot produce them. We have to consume omega-3 rich foods and supplements from our diet.
Omega-3’s protect our cells from inflammation. They are able to envelope every cell of our body, giving them the protection they need from the stresses of daily life.
These stresses and inflammations can be brought on by a poor diet, a high stress life, an active lifestyle (yes, exercise is inflammatory), as well as current disease and sickness.
Omega 3’s can also be used to combat diseases like arthritis, as well as the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
Omega 3’s are most abundant in cold water fish, as well as in some seeds like chia, sacha inchi and flax.
When supplementing, look for an Omega-3 that has a higher EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) to DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). In addition, talk to your physician before adding them as a supplement to your diet as they can interact with some medications.
Over 40 vitamin recommendations
As we get older, into our 40’s and 50’s, Kwiatkowska recommends adding an adrenal support supplement, vitamin D3 and magnesium to our daily diet as well.
Adrenal support is particularly important for women in their peri and menopausal years, as well as anyone who has high levels of the stress hormone cortisol floating through their blood on a daily basis.
How do you know if that’s you?
Some classic signs of adrenal exhaustion are:
Unable to drag yourself out of bed, yet in the evening you can’t fall asleep
Brain fog and poor memory
You rely on sugary snacks and caffeine to get you through the day.
If that’s you, you need to start taking care of your adrenal glands and begin making some lifestyle choices that will lower your cortisol levels.
Cortisol Lowering Workout
Try this cortisol lowering, adrenal soothing stretch routine before bed.
Vitamin D3 is important because it is involved in regulating the levels of the minerals calcium and phosphorus. It also boosts our immune system and is used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
In addition, vitamin D3 is used for diabetes, obesity, muscle weakness, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and tooth and gum disease and certain skin conditions.
It’s lack in our bodies has been linked to every cancer ever known.
Health Canada has recognized the importance of D3 and recently raised the daily intake of vitamin D3 to 8,000 IU (International Units) per day, even in the summer months.
Magnesium is an important supplement as we age as it is needed to help combat diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, and liver disease to name a few.
Magnesium will also help curb anxiety and panic attacks, relieve insomnia and reduce muscle cramping (important if you are active).
Best time to take your vitamins
When the best time to take your vitamins?
Most supplements are best taken in the morning, but some require to be taken twice or even three times a day.
Most multivitamins are twice a day, with the first one always in the morning and the second one in the afternoon, but not too late in the evening.
Other supplements that are specific to a condition may vary on when the best times are to take.
For example, most minerals should be taken in the evening as they absorb better when you are sleeping.
Take your vitamins with or without food
Multivitamins, minerals and most supplements should be taken with food to help ease their digestion and absorption.
Kwiatkowska explains that in the presence of a snack or a meal, your vitamins will be broken down as part of that meal and enter the bloodstream slowly.
This will prevent a stomach ache, burping (which can be a tad embarrassing when out in public), or a digestive upset.
Taking your vitamins and supplements with food will also slow down the uptake of nutrients into the bloodstream.
In the end, though, it’s important to first eat real food, second supplement when you need to and third live an active and healthy lifestyle – no matter what age you are.