What do we know about supplements, really? We know that they boost a healthy diet, help our bodies perform like the well-oiled machines they were built to be, and that they can do everything from giving you shinier hair to improving your energy.
But have you ever found yourself in the supplement aisle of a health food store, staring at endless rows of pills, thinking that there’s no way one person should possibly be taking all of them? You’re right, as it turns out. Supplements aren’t really a one size fits all sort of solution, according to Paula Simpson, a Hollywood-based nutrionist whose clients include Jessica Biel, Kristen Stewart and a certain chanteuse named Lady Gaga. Instead, they’re meant to be tailored to your specific needs, something you can only do with the help of a doctor or a nutritionist. Basically, don’t pick a random selection and just go with it, assuming you’ll be doing your body a favour.
Having said that, Simpson says that there are a few supplements, other than the standard issue multivitamin, which, with daily use, benefit pretty much everyone. She’s picked out six – but first, a quick note from her about supplements to address any lingering questions.
1/3 Why you need them in the first place.
“The fact is that in order to have a healthy diet you need to be obtaining over 40 different kinds of nutrients from your diet. When you think about it, it can be quite hard to get all of these nutrients on your plate throughout the week, particularly if you lead a busy life that doesn’t really allow you to plan and prepare every single meal. Taking supplements is a great way to gain those nutrients that you may be lacking. I’ve found that most people can benefit from some type of supplement based on their personal health history. For example, someone who is on a vegan or vegetarian diet may still be getting plenty of protein from alternative sources, but they’d benefit a lot from taking nutrient supplements for things that may be lacking in their diet.”
2/3 Supplements cannot replace real food.
“Truth be told, you should be eating as healthily as your lifestyle allows you to anyway. Supplements work best when looked at as something to complement your diet in order to maintain optimal health, or to support a health goal or condition. They should never be used to replace food, and won’t work in that way either. They’re something you’re meant to take on top of a healthy diet, not instead of it.”
3/3 Check with a doctor if you’re pregnant or an athlete.
“If you’re pregnant, don’t start taking a new supplement without speaking to your doctor first. You need to condense the amount of nutrients you’re getting, but unless you have a medical degree, you won’t be able to tell exactly how much you should be taking and how often. The same goes with athletes or someone who is very active and works out a lot. You might need to add supplements to your diet, but only under the guidance of a medical professional.”
Finally – here are Paula’s recommendations for the five natural supplements she says everyone should be taking.
“Everyone could always use more Vitamin D in their diets, because it’s one of the toughest vitamins to get enough of. The normal food amount from any regular diet simply won’t supply enough of it. It’s a crucial vitamin for maintaining strong bones and absorbing calcium.”
Try: Zenith Nutrition’s Vitamin D and Calcium Capsules.
“This is great for eliminating chronic inflammation of any kind and supporting brain and mental health for renewed clairty. They also make your hair really shiny, so that’s a nice bonus. Fish oils can go rancid quite easily, so if you live in a hot country, try storing them in the fridge to prevent them from going bad.”
Try: Health Aid’s Omega 3 750 Mg Capsules.
Editor’s note: Hi! It’s Komal, here to personally recommend Health Aid’s capsules. Mumbai Boss’s Nayantara Kilachand put me on to them, promising shinier hair and stronger nails after a couple of weeks, and she wasn’t wrong. We liked it so much we even wrote about it here.
“If you eat a lot of junk food or take a lot of antibiotics, your immune system can become compromised, while the digestive system goes out of whack. Probiotics rebalance the digestive system, which is why doctors recommend taking them with antibiotics, and boost weakened immunity.”
Try: Vista Nutrition’s Probiotic Immune Capsules.
“There are multiple benefits from taking a healthy amount of Zinc. It’s one of the most important minerals you can have in your diet. It regulates hormones, improves energy levels, and even helps boost fertility. Make sure you’re taking some on the regular.”
Try: HealthVit’s C-Vit Vitamin C and Zinc.
Super Food Greens
“Most people don’t consume things like parsley or wheatgrass on a daily basis. You could eat a salad on the daily, but this still wouldn’t provide as much superfood greens as your body needs. Taking this as a supplement, whether in pill or powder form, boosts your immune system and antioxidant intake. You’ll also notice much higher energy levels. Taking super food greens in pill or powder form is also a great alternative to preparing and drinking green juices when you’re travelling or pressed for time.”
Try: Herbal Hills’ Super Vegiehills.
Plus: Here's what Paula has to say about upping protein in your diet.
"Proteins are digested more slowly and hence may help to curb appetite over a longer period of time. If you’re trying to add more protein to your diet, choose more plant based proteins such as hemp or pea protein, portion controlled nuts/seeds or nut butters, eggs and leaner sources of animal proteins such as fish or chicken."
Try: Garden of Life's Raw Protein.
Editor's note: It's me again! Huge fan of this stuff - it's an all-natural, vegan protein powder made entirely from raw foods. Sure, it tastes a bit funny with strong, er, grassy flavours, but once you get used to it, it can’t be beat for the huge increase in energy levels and general feel good factor it provides. It's also filling enough to be a meal in itself.
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