Between soil depletion, busy lifestyles, and picky eaters, getting all the necessary nutrients from diet alone is a major challenge. That’s where supplements come into play. It’s not enough, though, to just pop a multivitamin and call it a day. You have to use the right ones. Below, we’ll cover a few super important things you should know about supplements for your family. I’ll even tell you which brands I recommend!
What you need to know about supplements for your family
One quick note: this is not meant to be taken as medical advice. If you have concerns about the right supplements to take, already take other medications, or have a medical condition please talk to your doctor.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the things you really need to know about supplements. The first five are general facts, then we’ll get into some specific nutrients that we all need but don’t really get enough of.
1. You’re Likely Lacking in Nutrients Even if You Eat Healthy
Did you know that more than 40% of American adults have at least one vitamin deficiency? They’re not all unhealthy eaters, either! A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that they don’t need any supplements because they’re eating a super healthy diet. While that once may have been true, it’s not quite the case today. See, even the healthiest organic fruits and veggies aren’t quite as nutrient-rich as they were decades ago, thanks to soil depletion.
Most of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables come directly from the soil. Basically, the ground isn’t as healthy as it used to be, so neither is the food grown in it. So, even if you’re the healthiest eater on the planet, you could still end up not getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals.
2. All multivitamins are not created equal
If you think all multivitamins are essentially the same, think again. See, while two brands may have the exact same amount of actual vitamins and minerals in them, one may have some pretty nasty additives, and that’s where things get dicey. From fillers to coatings to colorants, it’s entirely possible for a vitamin to be downright dangerous just because of the additives alone, especially if you have certain allergies.
It’s always best to read the ingredients closely to watch out for allergens. It’s just plain smart to choose vitamins that come from natural and organic sources. Take a look at a few of my top picks below for men, women and children.
3. Vitamins and other supplements aren’t regulated like medications
One of the reasons it’s so important to pay close attention to labels is because vitamins and supplements have very little oversight compared to other medications. And make no mistake about it, supplements are medications, even if the FDA doesn’t recognize them as such. In fact, many types of supplements were used to treat medical issues for thousands of years before modern medicine came on the scene. Some are still used today for medical purposes.
While other drugs are tested for safety before put on the market, supplements are considered safe until proven otherwise. Think about that: someone has to be the “proves otherwise” person. Don’t let it be you. Before investing your hard-earned money in a big bottle of vitamins, make sure you do a little research and buy from a brand with a good reputation.
4. When you’re reading a supplement label, start at the bottom!
You may think it’s smarter to start with the active ingredients at the top since that’s where the “most important” things are, right? Actually, you want to start down at the bottom, where you’ll find the inactive ingredients. That’s where you’ll find all the fillers, binders, colorants, and flavorings. It’s also where you’re most likely to find the things that can trigger your allergies or sensitivities.
Once you’ve ruled out any issues with the inactive ingredients, look at the active ingredient list to make sure it has what you want or need. Pay attention to the serving size, too. Some supplements look great in the active ingredient list (100% of this, 200% of that) until you realize that you have to take a bunch of them to get all those nutrients. Suddenly, that low price tag for 100+ capsules doesn’t seem like such a good deal!
5. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing
It is a very dangerous yet all-too-common misconception that you can’t overdose on vitamins, minerals or other supplements. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. While some supplement overdoses won’t do much more than make you very sick to your stomach, others can actually kill you.
For example, too much potassium leads to a condition called hyperkalemia, which can cause significant kidney and heart problems (including heart failure and death). Iron is another extremely dangerous one, especially for kids. In fact, for a long time, iron supplement overdosing was among the leading causes of medication-related deaths in kids.
Pay close attention to the dosing guidelines and don’t take more than recommended unless your doctor specifically tells you to do so. That goes for vitamin C during cold season, too. While some evidence suggests that it can help prevent a cold, it’s actually better to take a regular dose every day than a mega-dose during cold season.
Now that we covered some basics, let’s get into a bit more detail. The next five important things to know about supplements cover some specific vitamins and minerals that can benefit your whole family.
6. Probiotics aren’t just for people with digestive issues
Probiotics first became popular as a supplement to help people with intestinal and other digestive issues (like IBS). However, over the last few years, we’ve come to realize that they’re beneficial for just about everyone.
Did you know that a good portion of your immune system is found in your digestive system? Sounds weird, but it’s true! Since probiotics help keep your “gut” healthy, they also help boost your immune system, too. Again, choosing the right brand is important. You want something that is shelf-stable (so you don’t have to refrigerate it) and contains a wide variety of probiotics. My favorite brand, below, has 16 different strains and at least 50 billion active cultures.
7. There’s a very strong chance you’re not getting nearly enough Vitamin D
If you understand how Vitamin D is made in the body, then you’ll quickly figure out why you’re probably not getting enough, especially during the winter. See, while you can get some of your recommended daily intake from milk and a other food sources, the bulk of our Vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun. Sounds easy enough to get, right? Just head outside for a 10-minute walk!
Well, sure, that’s fine. Just skip the sunscreen and make sure you’re walking around in your bathing suit. Of course, then you’re risking skin cancer and, depending on the time of year, hypothermia! Now do you see why you need a supplement? If you need more convincing, keep in mind that along with calcium, Vitamin D plays a rather significant role in keeping your skeletal system healthy. Take a look at my favorite brands below.
8. You literally cannot live without magnesium
As Healthline explains, magnesium plays a role in over 600 different reactions in your body, from energy creation all the way down to creating and repairing DNA. You literally cannot live without it. While most of us don’t have fatal deficiencies, studies do say that more than 50% of us aren’t getting quite enough of the important mineral, especially since soil depletion became such a problem.
Fortunately, unlike the sunshine vitamin and probiotics, it’s actually pretty easy to increase your magnesium intake, even without supplements. Just soaking in Epsom salts or using my detox bath bombs can help boost your intake.
Of course, a bath alone isn’t enough if you’re more than a little lacking, so supplements are your best bet for making sure you get enough. See below for some of my top picks.
9. Collagen doesn’t just keep you looking great
When you hear “collagen,” what comes to mind? If you’re thinking about anti-aging serums and lip injections, you’re not alone. Most people think of collagen as something that’s just good for cosmetic reasons. However, it’s actually an important protein that makes up a good portion of your skin AND your connective tissues (like your joints).
It makes sense, then, that collagen would be beneficial for those with joint pain, right? Some studies also suggest that It’s good for bone and muscle health, and potentially beneficial for your heart as well (which makes sense since the heart is a muscle).
By the way, you can even give collagen to kids, as long as you do it in moderation. I use collagen powder a lot in my own supercharged smoothies and sometimes give it to my kids. Just stick with unflavored powder, like the brand below.
10. B12 is perhaps the very best “B” of all
While all of the B vitamins are super important to your overall health, B12 is perhaps the best “B” of all and…you guessed it…you’re probably lacking in that, too. See, B12 is only found in animal sources and certain types of yeast. If you’re a vegetarian (or even just like to eat a very low-meat diet), it’s extremely hard to get enough without supplementing.
Yet, without enough of it, you can develop nasty things like weakness, fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath and heart palpitations; and that’s only with a mild deficiency. Severe deficiencies can lead to psychosis, dementia, memory loss and difficulty walking. The supplement below is a great option for those who are mildly deficient or just want to make sure they’re getting enough. If you even think that you have a more significant deficiency, call your doctor, as if it gets too bad you may need injections. That’s how important this vitamin is to your well-being.
After all that information about supplements, you may be a bit overwhelmed! The most important things to remember: take supplements seriously, choose high-quality brands, read the labels, and talk to your doctor if you have concerns. If you show supplements the same respect that you show other medications, you’ll be just fine.
Last update on 2019-09-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API