If you are a regular in the local health food store, searching the aisles for your favourite supplements, you are not alone. In fact, approximately 40% of North Americans use some form of vitamin/mineral or herbal supplement. This is not surprising considering the rise in the number of baby boomers, the use of natural, legal aids by athletes and increased science backing up their efficacy.
A 2012 survey of 10,000 supplement users, performed by consumer labs, reported that the 5 most popular supplements in use, at that time, were a fish oil, multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and Co Q10. This is excellent to hear, since all of these supplements have been thoroughly researched and are known to exhibit a number of benefits, which means that people are shopping smart! Quality aside, this is an important step in improving health and preventing disease.
Then there are those who want to take their supplementation to the next level. They love buying and using supplements and want to reap the benefits, but because of the price tag some of these supplements can carry, they don’t want to break the bank. This article is for those individuals. I will go through a list of 3 supplements I believe to have excellent bang for their buck, outside of the most popular supplements I already mentioned, based on two markers of comparison: Price point and its ability to perform a number of functions in the body, decreasing your need for specific supplements that would address only one issue. Keep in mind that these are not the only supplements that fit this category, but in my experience, they fit the needs of most individuals who are trying to improve their overall health.
Most commonly known for its ability to get the bowels moving, this relatively inexpensive supplement can work wonders when it comes to improving our health on the inside and out.
- It is one of the first recommendations that should be made for anyone who is trying to lose weight and has to specifically target blood sugar and food intake while doing so. Taking small doses with every meal will aid in the lowering of visceral and belly fat without changes to the diet, during primary phases of weight loss. Also remember that if you are using a high protein diet to manage your weight (which most people should be), more fibre is necessary for proper digestion.
- Fibre can also lower markers for heart disease by managing cholesterol, inflammation and blood pressure. This may both be a direct effect, since inflammation and blood pressure can be decreased by lowering blood sugar. Nevertheless, strong correlations have continued to be made and this is important.
- Everyone is detoxifying nowadays. This is great. But, whether or not they are detoxifying correctly is another topic for another article. Regardless, our bodies are trying to get rid of foreign and dangerous substances every day! Extra fibre is required to excrete toxins from the digestive tract, making sure all of our liver’s work is not in vain.
- Although some might argue that a diet which contains fibrous foods is enough, with the increase in toxins and disease related to lower fibre consumption, extra fibre would only benefit.
- Finally, it’s important to note that with all quietum plus the various diets available to follow, fibre is the one constant recommendation. Funny though how we don’t usually recognize its abilities. Probably since it just isn’t sexy.
- A 5-10 grams/day dose is usually sufficient to make changes to your internal health. However, if you really want to target detoxification and body composition changes, aim for 15-20 grams in divided doses. Also, remember to start at a low dose and titrate up slowly, drink plenty of water with your fibre and change types often. Fibre blends like this one usually work best.
2) Vitamin C
Brought into the spotlight by the late Linus Pauling, this very inexpensive supplement, also known as ascorbic acid, was popularized for its ability to prevent scurvy and help alleviate the common cold. However, more and more research is finding that the benefits of this modest nutrient are much more than simply curing a few sniffles.
- Vitamin C is now being extensively studied for its effects on cardiovascular health, as it’s proving beneficial in the prevention and treatment of arterial plaque build up, the preservation of vascular integrity and an improved blood lipid profile.
- For those individuals who train hard and want to protect their lungs and muscles from excess oxidation, vitamin C can help improve inflammation and recovery, helping us train more often with less soreness!
- If you are already suffering from a serious illness, Vitamin C is showing promise in protecting against the toxic effects of chemotherapy, and helping with the relief of asthma symptoms. It also protects our DNA from damage, which is very important for those who practice dangerous habits such as smoking and, dare I say it, excessive cardiovascular exercise. From personal experience, I will add that it is the single best supplement I have ever used for relieving my seasonal allergy symptoms.
- Finally, for those looking for some cosmetic enhancement, vitamin C is absolutely crucial for collagen synthesis, which keeps our skin and underlying tissue young and flexible
- Although most of these benefits are seen at low doses of about 500mg, I usually recommend anywhere from 2,000-8,000mg depending on the level of combined stress in a client’s life. If you plan on supplementing towards these higher ranges, make sure to consult your physician if you have any underlying health issues. Vitamin C is usually available in tablet or powder.
Usually found in the amino acid or sport section of your local health food store, this ‘conditionally essential’ nutrient is talked about very seldom, so let’s shine some light on its benefits.
- For starters, it’s found in high concentrations in the retina and heart, which should give you a hint about its ability to protect the eyes from deterioration and the heart from electrical malfunction.
- If you are suffering from anxiety, sleep issues or general stress, taurine can negate the effects by protecting the brain from oxidation and increasing GABA, which will help you sleep.
- Because of its unique structure and the fact that it contains sulphur, it can also aid in the repair of cells while helping with the digestion of our foods, especially fat and cholesterol.
- Take note vegetarians. Although this amino acid can be synthesized inside our bodies in the presence of cysteine, times of stress will leave us depleted and animal products or supplements are the only place we will get sufficient amounts.
- About 3 grams/day of taurine is recommended to see fast results. However, for athletes, vegans and those under lots of stress or suffering from cardiovascular problems, higher levels may be warranted. Please check with your physician if you plan on supplementing with higher doses.
So there you have it! A concise, but hardly exhausting, overview of a few more supplements to add to your list. You might not need all 3, and because of the overarching benefits they contain, the addition of either one will result in a strong impact on your health, even beyond what was mentioned! For more information on these supplements, you can use the references at the end of this article or send us a question here.