Most American’s aren’t consuming enough nutrients from their daily diet. According to a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, only one percent of the population meets minimum standards of a balanced diet. So, many of us – especially if we are dieting, are over the age of 50, are pregnant, or exercise – can benefit from a well-chosen supplement.
Many Americans are marginally deficient in one or more vitamins, meaning they consume enough to prevent the classic deficiency, but not enough to be optimally nourished.
Here are five supplements that should be on everyone’s shopping list:
Multiple-Vitamin. Nutrients are supplied as teams in food, so if your diet is low in one nutrient, it’s a sure bet it’s low in others, too. A multiple is a convenient, inexpensive way to supply a balance of nutrients, while avoiding secondary deficiencies that result when you take too much of one nutrient and crowd out another. For quality sake, stick with the major brands or with a product with the USP quality seal that guarantees high standards.
DHA omega-3. If you don’t consume at least two servings a week of fatty fish (think salmon, mackerel or herring), then take an omega-3 supplement. You need at least 250 milligrams of the omega-3 DHA, and possibly up to 900 milligrams a day to help support brain health.
Omega-3s are important for women who are pregnant or nursing because DHA is a building block of a baby’s brain. In fact, 97 percent of the omega-3s found in the brain is DHA. A vegetarian and sustainable source of DHA from algae can be found in supplement form. Look for the life’sDHA logo on the packaging to know you’re getting a vegetarian source.
Calcium and Magnesium. You need calcium to keep your bones, nerves and muscles in shape, while magnesium is critical for coping with stress. Unless you include at least three servings daily of calcium-rich milk products, fortified soymilk, and lots of magnesium-rich soybeans, nuts, and wheat germ, you should supplement these two minerals.
Calcium and magnesium are best absorbed and used when supplied in a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. You get some of these minerals in your diet, so you only need to fill in the gaps by taking a supplement with 500 milligrams of calcium and 250 milligrams of magnesium, if your multiple is low in these minerals.
Vitamin D. If you are an adult, you may consider taking a vitamin D supplement since you’re likely not getting enough from food and beverages.
Vitamin E. Vitamin E functions as the main fat-soluble antioxidant, protecting cells, tissues and organs from damage.
Before incorporating any supplement into your diet check with your health care provider.