In this pill-piling health industry, not all supplements are created equal. We’re here to teach you how to navigate the supplements aisle and make investments that matter.
Let’s be honest: the Standard American Diet is depleted of nutrients. And for every nutrient deficiency, we are sold a supplement to fill the void where food once belonged. This isn’t the sole fate of fast-food enthusiasts feasting from a drive thru; even health-conscious individuals are suffering. As it turns out, those bell peppers and kale bits starring in yesterday’s salad rank lower in nutrients than the ones our great-great-grandparents ate, leaving you curiously famished and raiding your snack cabinet before bedtime. There are many reasons for this epidemic, the first being our country’s mediocre agricultural practices.
Our farmers are racing the clock to meet the demands of bustling, industrial communities. In order to stock our grocery stores with glistening apples and picture-perfect apricots, farmers mass-produce their crops using old soils that grow stale with time. These old soils then produce crops that are inevitably depleted of essential vitamins, minerals, and microbes.
Crops are further stripped of their nutrient-potential after being doused in pesticides. These pesticides interfere with a plant’s polyphenol production—that’s nature’s secret trick to ward away bugs and pathogens threatening a plant’s growth. What happens when these plants are heavily covered in pesticides and herbicides? Their polyphenol production declines, along with their nutrient supply, leaving you, Dear Reader, famished and craving more.
Farmers try compensating for these agricultural practices and enhancing crop nutrition by using fortified fertilizers. Nutrition in these fertilizers, however, is minimal—just enough to keep the crops alive until harvesting, but not enough to support our health. What’s more, most plants are harvested prematurely; they are shipped for hundreds of miles across the country, finding temporary shelter in shelves, trucks, and counters for weeks before being eating. Their nutrient stores erode during this prolonged time.
This story ends with the rueful realization that we could all use some help with our nutrition. All of us, no exception. And while supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet, they are back-up sidekicks when your diet falls short (and most often, it will).
Below are the six supplements I recommend to all of my clients—the holy grails of wellness and vitality. Let the listing begin…
PROBIOTICS: These live bacteria are key players in our digestive tract. Their benefits range from increasing our resistance to illnesses, to enhancing our ability to maintain a healthy weight. That’s just the physical stuff. Research suggests time and again that probiotics boost our mental well-being, countering symptoms of anxiety and depression.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: These fats classify as essential—an intimidating and weighty word denoting their necessity for our bodies to function. Because our bodies cannot produce these fats on their own, we need to consume them through our foods and supplements. Sufficient amounts of omega-3s offer multiple benefits, too, including longevity, physical wellbeing, a leaner physique, a clearer mind, and softer, more youthful skin.
ZINC: This essential nutrient is nature’s elixir for the common cold. The body also requires zinc for basic body functions: to produce hormones, to grow and repair cells, to boost immunity, and to facilitate digestion. Like an antioxidant, it slows the aging process and restores hormonal imbalance. And to counter energy spikes and energy dips throughout the day, trust zinc to help you regulate your blood sugar.
MAGNESIUM: If we could give one supplement a Pharmacists’ Choice Award for Most Beneficial to Americans, it would be magnesium. About 80 percent of adults are deficient in this essential mineral, creating an array of health problems: muscle aches or spasms, poor digestion, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
B-COMPLEX: This supplement contains all of the known, essential, water-soluble B vitamins that are absolutely needed for energy and healthy metabolism. Most Americans are deficient in these vital nutrients, resulting in energy slumps, a sluggish metabolism, and more.
VITAMIN D3: Most Americans are also deficient in this essential vitamin—an epidemic correlated with depression, insomnia, pain, osteoporosis, cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, and many other health conditions. This sunshine vitamin is closest to what sunlight naturally produced when shining its rays on our skin. Stock up on this supplement if you have limited outdoor time, cover constantly, or are from the snowy state of Minnesota.
Six supplements. Six new superheroes in your journey toward health. Do yourself a favor and invest in these little capsules, because even the best of diets is bound to fall short sometimes.