Now I generally don’t recommend supplements across the board because I assess each person’s diet for individual deficiencies, but I wanted to tell you about my top five most often recommended supplements. If you resonate with the reason I explain why I recommend them to my clients you can use this link to see my favorite brands and to buy them at a discounted price!
Vitamin D: In Missouri, the angle of the sun is so indirect over the winter that it’s impossible to make enough vitamin D from the sun even if you stood outside naked all day long! Deficiency of vitamin D is super common since most of us work inside, but it’s even worse for those of us who live 37 degrees north or south of the equator. I totally forgot about this (ok, maybe I was in denial that I didn’t live in Southern California anymore. I only lived there for two years, but the sunshine is where I belong!) and didn’t take my vitamin D like I used to. It took me getting sick twice this fall/winter to snap me back to my Missouri reality and get back to taking my vitamin D! Vitamin D is a tricky little guy, it doesn’t act like a normal vitamin, more like a hormone, so it impacts a lot. Bone health, immunity, and mental health are just three of its roles. Which is why I take 5,000 IUs of vitamin D every day in the winter, it improves my immunity and reduces seasonal affective disorder.
Prenatal: If you’re a lady of childbearing age, it’s smart to take a prenatal, just in case. If you’re planning to get pregnant, taking a prenatal for three months prior to getting pregnant can help reduce morning sickness, yes please! The specific prenatal I picked here is great because it has a healthy dose of B6, again, to help reduce morning sickness (can you tell I really hate barfing? I’m sure you feel the same way.). I also like it because it has methylated folate. Folate is required to prevent neural tube defects, but women with an MTHFR gene mutation require methylated folate for it to work. The bummer is that, often, someone doesn’t know they have an MTHFR gene mutation until they’ve had miscarriages and then subsequently get that gene tested. So a methylated folate prenatal vitamin is what I prefer since I don’t want anyone to go through that heartbreak if they don’t have to.
Omega 3: I generally recommend omega 3 fatty acid supplementation for clients who don’t like salmon or other “fishy smelling” fish. Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and improve the efficiency of nervous system reactions (they make the myelination of nerves more bendy and flexible, which makes reaction time quicker…for my fellow nerds out there). It also increases HDL, which is the “good cholesterol.” It’s important to find an omega 3 supplement that has more DHA than it does EPA, because DHA is the kind of omega 3 that’s really easy for bodies to use. EPA isn’t turned into DHA efficiently, so a supplement that says it’s high in omega 3s, but primarily has EPA, isn’t a very useful source for your body.
Glucosamine-Chondroitin and Turmeric (Curcumin): This combo is what I recommend for people struggling with joint pain. Glucosamine-Chondroitin has been used forever for big dogs with arthritis, and if it’s good enough for poochies it’s good enough for me!! Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory that has benefits for a wide variety of ailments. There’s still more research that needs to be done on turmeric to see what all it can do and what doses it can do it at, but I recommended turmeric to a client who was suffering from debilitating joint pain and within six weeks it had significantly improved!
Like I said up top, I’m not a supplement pusher, just in the circumstances where it’s indicated or if I find a person’s diet is deficient in a specific nutrient and they’re not willing or able to eat the food to correct the deficiency. But these are vitamins/supplements that are pretty common for me to recommend to my clients when they need it. Talk with your doctor or dietitian to find out what supplements are right for you to make sure they don’t interfere with any medications you’re taking.
-Jen Lyman, RDN, LD, CLT