Eating healthfully is already a daily struggle for many individuals. Adding the extra stress of inflation and unpredictable food prices at the grocery store can make it even more challenging to shop for nutritious choices. This is where strategic use of dietary supplements can help.
Supplements are designed to complement your diet, so if you are having trouble getting all the nutrients you need through food, supplements are your best budget-friendly asset. By incorporating quality supplements into your routine, you can bridge the nutrient gap and ensure that your body receives the essential vitamins and minerals it requires.
Food and supplements
While it is widely acknowledged that a nutritious diet forms the foundation of good health, there is a growing body of research that shows the role of dietary supplements is an important adjunct to achieving optimal nutrition.
With the quality of food being less than optimal today, I believe it is necessary to include dietary supplements daily, along with the most wholesome diet you can afford. Strive to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, support a healthy weight, enhance energy levels, and improve overall well-being.
One effective budget-friendly strategy is to opt for multipurpose supplements that offer a range of benefits. Combination supplements offer a holistic approach to nutrition by integrating a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals into a single capsule. These supplements are designed to address multiple health issues simultaneously, offering convenience, cost-effectiveness, and targeted support for specific concerns.
Using combination supplements gives you extra bang for your buck, and you also don’t have to take as many pills. By investing in quality, science-supported supplements, you not only save money now, but also take preventive steps towards your future health, potentially reducing health-care costs in the long run.
A multivitamin supplement can cover many nutritional bases, but not all supplements are the same. Read labels carefully. A multivitamin should include calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, folate, calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, C D, E, and K. Choose a multivitamin with 100 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDA) of most of its ingredients. (Not everything will be 100 percent or the pill would be too large.)
Immunity, bone, heart health
Though heart and immune health top the list of biggest health concerns for men and women, bone health is equally important, especially as you age. All three of these health issues can be addressed with the right combination supplement. Here are some ingredients to look for in combination products:
- Aged garlic extract (AGE). Although AGE is a form of garlic, it’s not the same garlic you use when cooking. AGE is made through an aging process that enhances the powerful antioxidant compounds in garlic and eliminates the odorous sulfur compounds. I recommend 1,200 milligrams per day.
- Omega-3 fish oil. If you don’t eat fish, consider adding a fish oil supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids may help lower blood pressure and prevent and manage heart disease, lower inflammation, and boost immunity. The American Heart Association recommends taking about 3 grams per day.
- Vitamin E helps the immune system fight infections, widens blood vessels, and helps prevent clots. (RDA: 15 milligrams (mg)).
- Vitamin D3. A large number of people have vitamin D deficiencies, and that may harm their health. Vitamin D is important for bone health and may reduce the risk of heart failure, but the heart-health benefits require additional research, says the American Heart Association. (RDA: 600 international units (IU) for people under age 70 and 800 IU for those over age 70).
- Vitamin K2 is linked to bone strength, and supplementation has been associated with improved cardiovascular outcomes, according to a study published in BMJ. (RDA: 90 micrograms (mcg) women and 120 mcg for men).
- Vitamin B complex. The B vitamins have many important roles in the body. In particular, vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in energy metabolism and neurological health. Since vitamin B12 is found primarily in meat, eggs, and dairy, if you are cutting back on expensive proteins or trying out a plant-based diet, you may be lacking in this valuable nutrient. Having your vitamin B12 levels measured is important so you know if you are low or deficient. (RDA: B1: 1.1 mg; B2: 1.1 mg; B3: 14 mg; B5: 5 mg; B6: 1.3 mg; biotin: 30 mcg; folic acid: 400 mcg; B12: 2.4 mcg).
Gut and urinary tract health
As a holistic pharmacist, I have received many questions from women throughout my career on how to prevent urinary tract infections (UTI). Cranberry has a long history
of use for bladder health. However, drinking cranberry juice is not only costly, but it adds a lot of calories, and studies have been inconsistent on whether cranberry juice can actually help.
One form of cranberry that has been found to be beneficial for fighting UTIs is cran-max, a concentrated cranberry extract that is sold by a variety of manufacturers.
A combination product that combines cran-max with probiotics can enhance both gut and urinary tract health. Working synergistically, probiotics and cranberries support urinary tract health by promoting a balanced gut microbiome, aiding in the normalization of the gastrointestinal system, and preventing bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.
Stress and fatigue support
Who doesn’t have concerns about stress and fatigue these days with inflation and economic pressures? Most of us do. Finding a combination supplement that targets both stress and fatigue while supporting your immune system is important, since stress is a primary cause of fatigue and compromised immunity. This brings me back to my recommendation on aged garlic extract (AGE). Combining AGE with several B vitamins, including B1, B6, B12, as well as the amino acid GABA, which can calm the nervous system and promote relaxation, can help fight fatigue, tame stress, and support the immune system.
Being Selective About Supplements