Five key nutrients I’m adding to my regime this spring– and why you should consider them, too.
You know all about the importance of switching up your diet and workout routine in order to see the benefits, but what about your vitamins and supplement regime? Ever wonder if the same “rules” apply?
Admittedly, I hadn’t — until recently.
Not to mention, there are few wellness tasks as confusing as figuring out what vitamins you should take.
Every year, I attribute a less-than-stellar “seasonal” state-of-mind that I seem to adopt to Chicago’s brutal winters — Seasonal Affect Disorder, anyone? This year, though, I’ve felt especially sluggish, unmotivated, bloated, tired and not — err, not very sharp.
I started wondering: Should I be taking different supplements?
External factors in your life play a factor in your overall physical and mental wellbeing, obviously — and 2017 wasn’t exactly my #BestYearEver.
That may explain the aforementioned: Between traveling, moving apartments, working, dating, adulting, starting a new fitness gig and trying to balance out life overall, things have felt a bit all over the place the last six months — so no wonder I have, too.
… And, okay.
I’m being honest, I had to fully re-learn how to take care of myself on many foundational levels after SoulCycle.
I just — well, I just kinda stopped.
Eating habits, exercise, vitamins, sleeping patterns, and even just getting my ass up and out of the apartment on some days — you name it. I had to re-establish healthy behaviors and habits around all of these.
That’s a long post for a different day, though — and we’ll have a lil’ heart-to-heart about it this summer (near the end of July). Cool?
(Related post: 50 wellness tips when you’re not sure where to start)
Anyway, as I was saying — when it comes to whether or not you should to be modifying (or upgrading) your supplement intake, it really depends.
But if you’re wondering so about it yourself, now, too; chances are you might.
So I did some research.
… The short answer? Again, it depends.
If you’re supplementing based on a health professional’s advice and it’s working well with your current lifestyle — aka you’re feeling happy and healthy — there’s really no reason to switch up your routine.
Vitamins don’t become less effective over time; but there are certain seasons and reasons where it could be beneficial to add, swap or introduce nutrients into rotation.
(As I sit here typing eating a slice of pizza. #Balance!)
I’ve typically supplemented my active lifestyle and diet by rotating a multivitamin, iron, magnesium, Vitamin C and the occasional Biotin — along with getting plenty of sleep, water and exercise.
“That’s better than nothing, right?”
Sure, I suppose it is; but if you can do more to help your body recover and function at its peak performance, why wouldn’t you?
I should mention: Not everyone needs supplements, but depending on things like the season (lack of sunshine!), dietary changes, immune deficiencies, physical discomforts and so on, there are a handful of ’em that will make you look and feel better.
(This is when you may want to consult a health professional prior to making any changes.)
Based on these facts and a deep understanding of my body’s performance, I decided to switch up the ‘ol supplement regime for spring — as you’ll read below.
And if you think you’d benefit from doing the same (whether now or in the future), here’s my (non-clinical) advice:
For starters, I’d suggest you having a realistic “goal” or in mind: Energy? Immune support? Weight loss?
Personally, the adjustments I’ve been making have been aimed at boosting my physical and mental health, which — duh, I know.
But for me, personally, that boils down to strengthening my immune system, supplementing healthy fats and nutrients I haven’t been getting because of travel, helping my body better respond to stress and easing the muscle recovery process.
Here’s the five vitamin supplements I’ve been rotating back into my regime — and why:
ONE // Vitamin D
When: Most days, with a meal
Why: It makes me feel better, quite simply
Three words: Limited sun exposure. (Or one: Winter.)
Vitamin D is a key player for the nervous and immune systems—and studies have shown that low levels can be linked to depression. In additional, you need it for cardiovascular wellness, healthy muscles, bones and teeth.
TWO // Super Stress B-Complex
When: Daily, in the morning
Why: Energy, mood boost, mental health
I’ve been taking B-12 on-and-off for a few years and have always noticed its mood-boosting benefits — increased focus and a natural energy supply.
This season, I’ve been taking this all-in-one supplement solution, since it also has loads of other B vitamins, Vitamin C, Folate and Biotin. In regard to the latter, it’s like the creators behind this baby knew my eyebrows tend to thin out when I’m stressed (which B-Complex helps with)!
Bless you, science.
Folate — or folic acid, also found in this supplement — supports the nervous system and is said to improve things like mood and sleep. (I’ve also read that many people who suffer from depression have folate deficiencies, but again — that’s something you’d want to talk to your doctor about.)
THREE // Probiotics
When: Daily, with a meal
Why: Digestive support; gut brain and heart health
Digestion plays a huge role in how effectively we absorb/utilize nutrients (and supplements), and if you’ve ever been out of the country for an extended period of time, you know the toll that can take.
A few years back when I ate only noodles and rice in Thailand for three weeks? Not pretty (but delicious, as shown below).
Not pret-tay at all.
Anyway, Probiotics maintain the healthy bacteria in your body so that it can go to work for you — so-to-speak.
Probiotics have a number of benefits, but mainly (for me), they help get my digestion and immune system back on track — when supplemented with a healthy diet and exercise, yadda yadda.
This is probably a word you’ve heard before (and not fully understood), but Probiotics are great for you girls on-the-go or anyone under a lot of stress — or those of us who enjoy the occasional processed food. (On that note, I’ve recently discovered that Taco Bell delivers.)
Gut health affects our overall physical and mental health — another reason to keep it in check.
FOUR // Omega-3’s
When: Most days, with breakfast
Why: Cardiovascular health, metabolism, nervous system support/brain health
Our bodies can’t create the fatty acids found in omega-3’s, so they have to be acquired from your diet or a supplement like so.
… I’m not a big fish-eater unless it’s tightly rolled in white rice.
Nutrient-dense omega-3 supplements are said to support brain health, reduce inflammation throughout your body and lower the risk of heart disease and chronic illnesses… Among other things.
These are also great for maintaining an active metabolism, too.
FIVE // Vision Defense Eye Health
When: Most weekdays, with a meal
Why: Eye health
Did you know the average person spends more than 11 hours in front of their devices every day?
I’m not far off myself — especially considering I’m mid-Season Four on Game of Thrones.
But as we’ve talked about around here before, spending that much time in front of our devices can expose us to a harmful effect known as “blue light,” which causes digital eye strain and eye fatigue. (And I hate to break it to you, but smartphones and tablets emit the worst of it!)
That damage can add up over time to reek some real havoc on not just our eyes, but our sleeping patterns, too (since it suppresses melatonin).
So, what can we do to reduce the potentially negative outcomes associated with blue light exposure?
Of course, spending less time online is a factor (and here’s a post I wrote about how you can); but surprisingly, your diet can also make a difference.
To counteract the effects of blue light damage, Vision Defense is a supplement I recently earned about that is created by a team of scientists at Swanson Health — a long-time producer of science-backed vitamins and supplements and wellness solutions — and it’s also the reason for the research behind this post.
(Swanson reached out to me last month and invited me to test-drive it, and since I’m well-versed in the affects of blue light, I happily obliged.)
The gel capsules contain a blend of antioxidants as well as two key nutrients known as lutein and zeaxanthin — found mainly in colorful or leafy-green vegetables. Their main purpose is to support healthy retinas so your eyes can stay comfortable and focused each day.
I only very recently started taking this, so I’m eager to see the long-term benefits.
Above all else, just listen to your bod — the best gauge of your health is always yourself.
Whether you’re looking to boost your energy, improve mental health, lose weight or ward off diseases, supplements can help your body work efficiently and effectively.
But of course, please remember that all the vitamins and supplements in the world won’t replace a healthy diet and balanced lifestyle — they simply add to it. Supplements are just that — supplementation.
*Get the look:
Any vitamins you’ve been adding to your diet as of late? Or have you ever switched up your supplements?
Thanks to Swanson for partnering on this post. Please note that these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.