We’re breaking it down…
These days it’s hard to separate truth from influential information and media in terms of health and what is good for you (or not!).
The truth is, despite government regulations and oversight, it’s still a bit ‘buyer aware’. Now, that’s a scary thought.
Having said that, there is something that can’t be refuted — the advice of a medical professional that knows you and your needs, along with reputable research and facts.
Please note: If you are pregnant, planning on getting pregnant, breastfeeding, or have any underlying health conditions, it’s always best to get the advice of your primary caregiver and/or naturopath before taking any supplements.
First, Assess Your Needs
There are a lot of supplements on the market, and no one person likely needs everything. So the best thing is to review your needs, and then determine your health and wellness priorities.
In this article, we are diving into some of the most well-known natural products and supplements. Currently, some of the most popular needs revolve around nutrition, sleep, mood, energy, and immunity.
Up Your Nutrition
Let’s start with the basics. The base for optimal health is nutrition, which the cells rely on daily for maintenance of a healthy body. Obtaining all the essential nutrients is key.
Taking a Multivitamin is the best way to ensure that you are getting a wide range of these essential nutrients. This is best for anyone who may not have a well-varied diet or who has a potential to be lacking nutrients on certain days.
Multi-vitamins can be formulated based on age, prenatal/postnatal, activity level, as well as gender. Medical-grade multivitamins have proven time and time again that they provide a higher level of absorption and are recommended by most naturopathic physicians.
Even if you have a balanced and varied diet, you may still require supplements such as:
- Calcium – good for bone health
- Iron – good for anyone that is anemic or has a risk of being low in iron
- Folic Acid – recommended prenatal as the body has an increased need for cell growth
Get More Sleep
Sleep is something that is often compromised with a rise in stress levels, changing of routines, a new baby, or a plethora of other reasons. It’s true that sometimes, although you try to fall asleep, thoughts can keep you up or your body just has a tough time relaxing, no matter how hard you try.
There are a couple of supplements that have been considered helpful for sleep; the most popular include:
Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally, and it signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep. It may improve overall sleep quality in individuals with sleep disorders or increase the total amount of sleep someone gets. Melatonin supplements appear to be safe for adults. In children and in pregnancy, it may be safe for short-term use but best to do so under the supervision of a physician and not exceed 3mg.
Magnesium has been found to help quiet the mind and body, in turn, helping people fall asleep. It has also been linked to the reason why people have a hard time falling asleep in the first place — having low levels, that is. Magnesium should be relatively safe in adults, children or pregnancy, just as long as no one exceeds the daily recommended amount.
Regulate Your Mood
Do you find yourself losing patience, feeling short-tempered, or your mood is not in sync with your true self? Feeling more lethargic, anxious or even depressed? It could be due to hormones.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that, when high, can lead to a more temperamental mood. Cortisol levels that are too low, on the other hand, have been linked to a slower and less-than-energetic mood. There are supplements that can decrease cortisol levels, and there are supplements that help increase its production in the body.
Another reason for mood changes could be a lack of basic nutrients. Researchers have studied the association between foods and the brain and identified 10 nutrients that can combat depression and boost mood: calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and zinc. Sometimes supplementing with these essentials can help mood. Specifically B vitamins (and B complex) have been associated with mood improvements.
Last but not least, another mood regulator is a supplement that is referred to as an adaptogen. These are used to help the body resist or adapt to stressors of all kinds. They are herbs that have beneficial effects on the body. A popular adaptogen is the Aruyvedic herb called Ashwagandha. This herb has been shown to improve mood, stress and anxiety in many studies. It is herbal and thought to be safe for all within recommended doses.
Increase Your Energy
There are a number of supplements and health products that have been shown to increase energy. Among the most popular are: Vitamin B12, Creatine, and Coenzyme Q10.
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that you could obtain from a multivitamin, a B-complex or on its own. Safe at recommended levels for all ages and stages of life, this vitamin is directly involved in cellular energy. It is also one that is commonly given as injections or intravenously to increase energy levels. Women, in particular, have an increased need for B12.
Creatine has recently become more popular, primarily to increase energy for workouts. It is a substance commonly found in animal products and helps to create ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is what the body uses for energy. Check with a physician before consuming creatine, as doses should be adhered to and it’s normally only recommended for those with high activity levels.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is made naturally in the body and found in all cells, as it is used to make energy and prevent oxidative damage. When levels in the body decrease, the body can’t produce as much energy to stay healthy. Therefore, supplements may help to reduce fatigue. Generally considered safe in adults, it’s important to take in recommended doses so only do so after speaking with a physician.
Boost Your Immunity
Boosting your immunity is key… and it’s important for all ages and in all stages of life. Giving the body a boost to fight off infections and be prepared before getting sick is more important now than ever.
This is a wide topic, which we cover in detail in its own article for boosting immunity, as it can stretch to include a number of nutrients, but also daily life practices. However, let’s focus on key ingredients that are known to help fight infections and prepare the immune system.
Safe in pregnancy, breastfeeding, children and adults (within daily limits), everyone can benefit from the following immune-boosting supplements:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Ensuring that all of these (some may be combined into one formulation) are part of your daily regime is more important than ever. They each play a role in boosting your immune system and helping keep your gut healthy (which is key to immunity).
Overall, supplements and natural health products are an easy, safe way to optimize your health. Always review your needs and ask your naturopath, doctor or other trusted healthcare professional before committing to a new regime.
Whatever your needs are, it’s always important for expectant and breastfeeding mothers to know the cautions, read the fine print and always ask:
- Is it safe for pregnant /breastfeeding women?
- What is recommended in my pregnancy?
To your health!
Mother of two, foodie at heart, city-loving blogger, writer, marketing specialist, and overall busy-bee: that is Christina Chandra in a nutshell. Christina lives in Vancouver where she is a freelance writer & marketing specialist, and also blogs at ChristinaChandra.com. In her spare time, you can find her exploring local eateries, cafes and hot spots.