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Vitamins + Supplements

Popular Supplements that Work

You hear a lot these days about supplements. But do they work, and should people take them?

Most nutrition experts agree that the best way to get your recommended daily nutrients is by eating healthy, whole foods. Whole foods are lean meats, seafood and poultry, leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, fruits and complex carbohydrates.

Whole foods contain most of the vitamins, minerals and the nutrients your body needs in order to sustain itself, to heal and be active. Whole foods also contain phytochemicals, which are protective substances that help fight-off disease; and natural fiber, which is vital to cleansing out toxins and wastes from the body.

However, there are still reasons to take supplements. First, many of us do not eat a healthy whole food diet! Additionally, as we age, our bodies do not absorb certain nutrients as well. Other reasons to supplement include a nutrient specific deficiency in the diet (vegetarian or someone who doesn’t eat enough fish); and medication, disease or exposure to environmental toxins (may lessen absorption of key nutrients).

Here are 7 popular – and effective – supplements that may make sense for you.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D builds strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium. It is essential to nerve and thyroid function, muscle growth and a healthy immune system. There is some research showing it may also offer protection against colorectal and other cancers.

Many Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. Sun exposure provides Vitamin D, but with more people using sunscreen, fewer people are getting their Vitamin D from the sun. Older people and dark-skinned people also can’t easily make Vitamin D from the sun.

Foods that provide Vitamin D are fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna) and fortified milk and cereals. Small amounts can be found in beef liver, egg yolks and cheese.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)

The American diet is low in Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

Omega-3 fatty acid research has shown it to be an excellent inflammatory agent and important to brain and heart health. It lowers the risk for stroke and heart disease, can reduce joint soreness caused by rheumatoid arthritis, and may help prevent cognitive decline. It also can lower levels of depression.

Top food sources are cold-water fatty fish (salmon, herring, cod), nuts and seeds (flaxseed).

Zinc

Zinc is in every cell of the body and supports a healthy immune system, helps maintain strong bones, provides you with a good sense of smell and taste, and promotes collagen production.  Zinc has also been credited with helping with testosterone production and supporting a healthier libido for both men and women.

Food sources include pumpkin seeds, oysters, beans, red meat, seafood, poultry, ginger root, almonds and walnuts.

Vegetarians in particular may need to consider supplementation as Zinc is best absorbed from animal food sources.

Vitamin C

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