5 Supplements For Better Health and Performance

Many folks are quick to get caught up in the mainstream media’s coverage of the next big supplement that makes outrageous claims. Supplements will never take the place or be a remedy for a poor diet, you have to eat nutritious high quality food first and foremost to be truly healthy.

Supplements as the name implies are supplemental to an already solid approach to nutrition on a daily basis. 

I want to emphasize that folks should clean up their nutrition first before considering supplements. The basics of a high quality meal look like this:

 

Protein: Men 2 palm sized portions, Women 1 palm sized portion

Vegetables: Men 2 closed fist portions, Women 1 closed first portion

Fat/Oils: Men 2 thumb sized portions, Women 1 thumb sized portion

Dense Carbohydrates: Men 1-2 open cupped hand portions, Women 1 open cupped hand portions

Earn Your Carbs: This means if fat loss if your goal you will consume your starchy carbohydrates in your post workout meal. If it is a rest day eat protein, fat and vegetables.

Even if you are eating a diet that consists of mostly whole foods there may be some gaps that specific supplements can help to fill.

I view these more as a insurance policy to make sure you are covered, than trying to rely on supplements for what the body requires.

I have put together a list of five supplements that help improve overall health and athletic performance.

While none of these supplements are geared specifically for performance, keep in mind  a healthier body performs better no matter the task at hand.

These are all supplements that I take on a regular basis, and notice a benefit from, otherwise I wouldn’t be talking about them! They are all easy to find, and fairly inexpensive.

For each supplement I have also included brands that I know, use and trust. When it comes to supplements quality really does matter.

The supplement brands that I recommend are going to be a little more expensive than the off brands people typically settle for but, you pay for what you get when it comes to supplements.

1. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 has so many functions in the body it is now considered more a hormone than a vitamin. Vitamin D3 along with A,E and K are the fat soluble vitamins that help control where calcium is deposited body and how well is  it absorbed.

Vitamin D3 helps to build stronger bones, boosts immune system function, reduces inflammation, helps with mood disorders and also plays a role in the production of testosterone.

Because we spend so much time indoors we miss out on the richest source of vitamin D available to us, the sun! It is also a nutrient that can be very difficult to get adequate amounts of in the diet.

Because we have so many uses for Vitamin D3 in the body the small amount we get from our  diet is used up very quickly.

For this reason an overwhelming percentage of the american population is deficient in Vitamin D3 and could benefit from supplementing with it.

Brand Favorites: Jarrow Formulas, Carlson’s, Nordic Naturals
 

2. Probiotics

Anywhere from 80-90% of your immune system is in the gut. That immune system is largely influenced by the amount of beneficial bacteria we have in our bodies.

The bacteria that live in our digestive system play a huge role in our overall health. Truthfully the role that probiotics play in our health is an area we have just scratched the surface of.

We know that these beneficial bacteria help us with the process of digesting and breaking down food, They help some alleviate IBS symptoms, regulate the immune system, help with allergies and allergy prevention, and help with mood as well.

Gut bacteria can alter the way that we store fat, regulate blood sugar and play a role in the hormones that make us feel hungry or full.

It has been proven that individuals who are lean and those who are overweight have very different gut bacteria strains and ratios of these bacteria as well.

Brand Favorites: Garden Of Life, Prescript Assist,
 

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that the body requires for health, and is in such great demand that when we get magnesium in our diet it is used up rapidly.  

We have over 300 reactions that take place in the body that need magnesium as a catalyst, but we rarely have enough of it in the body support these functions.

We require magnesium for the relaxation of muscles and it can be powerful for those who have sleep trouble.

Magnesium  helps us to manage our stress response, improves nerve function and helps with our metabolism as well as muscle cramps.

There are rich sources of magnesium that can be consumed such as dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, nuts , sardines and avocado.

For those who are highly stressed, weight train or eat a diet high in starches and sugar you will require a greater amount of magnesium as you will burn through it much quicker.

Brand Favorites: Natural Calm
 

4. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that gives curry the yellow color that it has and has been used in indian cultures as a medicinal herb for thousands of years.

The benefit of turmeric comes from the main compounds in it named curcuminoids, the most powerful of which is Curcumin.

Only recently have the benefits of turmeric been scientifically backed and shown to be a very potent antioxidant and a very powerful anti inflammatory as well.

Aside from being a potent antioxidant and anti inflammatory, turmeric has also shown to help boost brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and is linked to improved cognition and lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and lower risks of heart disease.

Pepper helps with absorption of the curcumin, so if the supplement doesn't include a source of pepper you are going to want to throw back a peppercorn with you turmeric supplement.

Favorite Brands: Jarrow Formulas, New Chapter, Youtheory

5. Fish Oil / Omega 3

Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are both essential meaning that our body can’t produce them on its own, and we need get them through our diet.

We need to consume omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a certain ratio to keep the body in balance and decrease inflammation.

Omega-6 fats are inflammatory which is a natural process for triggering the anti inflammation process which the Omega-3 fats help with.

Most folks diets in this day and age are very heavy in omega-6 fats, and very low in omega-3’s resulting in excess inflammation in the body.

While the ideal situation would be to have people consume more fatty fish on a weekly basis, it is easier for some people to take an omega-3 or fish oil supplements to cover their bases.

Omega-3 fats are anti inflammatory, help people to lose fat, regulate blood sugar, improve cellular function, are supportive of brain health, help with hormonal health, speed up recovery from exercise and can help build muscle and burn body fat.

Favorite Brands: Barlean’s, Nordic Naturals,

Closing Thoughts...

First and foremost eat real foods that come from nature they are going to provide a wide spectrum of nutrients that we all require to truly be healthy. Once you have that in place 85-90% of the time start considering how some of these supplements could benefit you.

Are these supplements going to be the magic bullet for you ? no they won’t be,  but they could be that extra push that allows you to feel a little better and perform better in everyday life.

At the end of the day it is all about using nutrition and smart supplements when they apply to look, feel and perform your best. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

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