I must confess there is something missing from my What I Ate Wednesday posts on Facebook. Other than the EmergenC in my morning ritual and my protein shakes, you don’t get to see the supplements I take on a daily basis. It’s not a desire to hide anything. I just don’t find it relevant the conversation. After all it is What I ATE Wednesday.

The more questions I get about supplements, the more I realize it IS relevant. Supplement ads are everywhere, especially this time of year. Everyone from Dr Oz to your best friend are promoting something as the NEXT BIG SECRET to weight loss. I say:

If there was a pill or potion that caused you to lose weight without taking care of your diet or exercising it would be on the cover of the New York Times.

The inventor would win a Nobel Prize! The obesity epidemic would be OVER. None of these things have happened. Your body will not change, your health will not improve, without changing your behavior and doing the work.

I am not “anti-supplement”. Supplements are a part of my fitness routine, but they are a SUPPLEMENT. They are meant to enhance what I eat and my workouts, not replace them. They are meant to help cover my gaps and improve what age and activity might be taking away.

Here are the basics that I take and the supplements I think most people should consider. (Always check with your health care provider before adding any supplement or medication to your daily routine.)

  1. Natrol My Favorite Multiple One a Day Iron Free

    Yes, I take a multiple vitamin. My diet isn’t perfect so I know I may have gaps. My multi is my insurance policy. Some of the fruits and vegetables I consume have traveled a long way. This diminishes their nutrient content, as does poor soil quality. I am not anemic so I don’t require extra iron. Frankly, it makes me ill if I do take a multiple with iron.

  2. Ovega

    I don’t eat fish so I have to get my Omega 3 fatty acids from somewhere. I eat milled flaxseed daily and walnuts occasionally but they are not a good source of DHA. This vegetarian supplement gets its DHA the same place the fish do – algae. I also get DHA from my True Vitality protein shakes but I don’t drink them daily. I take this supplement every day with my breakfast. If you’re not opposed to fish, there are a variety of good quality fish oils out there as well.

  3. NOW Vitamin D-3 1000 IU

    I wear my sunscreen daily and I live in the Midwest. I also spend most of my day indoors. Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is tough to get in adequate quantities from food so I take it daily. It is a fat-soluble vitamin so I take it with a meal containing fat, usually my Morning Mug Souffle. Since it is related to sunshine, take D early in the day when your body would normally be reacting to the sun.

  4. NOW Lutein 10 mg

    As a type 1 diabetic my eye health is very important.  I have no occurrence of diabetic eye damage and I prefer to keep it that way. This was added at the recommendation of my eye doctor a few years back.

  5. Country Life Chewable Cal-Snack (Calcium 1000 mg Magnesium 500 mg)

    I’m a woman who doesn’t eat dairy products on a regular basis so I take my calcium in supplement form. The chewable is better absorbed and I kind of like the taste. Odd story…I once switched to another chewable calcium without magnesium. A few weeks after I did I started to experience a irregular heart beat. I had a battery of tests, including a stress test, and nothing was found to be wrong with my heart. This went on for several weeks (perhaps months?) as I wracked my brain trying to determine what might have changed. I hit on the calcium and switched back. In a week or so the problem disappeared and has never returned. Magnesium is required for proper function of nerves and muscles, including the heart. Coincidence? Probably not.

  6. Essential Formulas Dr Ohhira’s Probiotics

    I won a huge basket of products from Essential Formuals at IDEA World Blogfest. I had never taken a pro-biotic before but the timing of my prize was perfect. I acquired a nail infection (be careful where you get your manicures!) that required several rounds of antibiotics. Since I was killing the good as well as the bad I was happy to have something to help me bring my intestinal flora back in balance. They kept my digestive system happy, so much so I kept taking them after I was finished with the antibiotics. I think they helped me through the holiday indulgences with minimal intestinal distress.

    Proceed with caution – number 7 on the list may not apply!
    Branch Chain Amino Acids are a very recent addition to my supplement routine and are still “on trial”. BCAAs generally refer to three amino acids: leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein (and therefore muscle). The research is fuzzy at best about the overall benefits of BCAAs for muscle building and muscle recovery but I am curious to see how my body reacts. As I approach 40 I am even more concerned about avoiding age related muscle loss (sarcopenia) and even adding some muscle to my frame. Combined with a more “old school” weight training program I will be interested to see if they make any difference or not in my body composition. Not a double bind trial I know but it’s the best I can do.

As with my diet, I share with caution because what is needed for me isn’t always what is needed for someone else. Just because I take it doesn’t mean it is the right choice for everyone. The message is that supplements can be (and in some cases should be) part of a healthy lifestyle and a fitness program. As always talk to your doctor about what you take and don’t think the answer to your fitness goals is in a pill. There are way too many supplements that over promise, under deliver and could even be dangerous. Curious? Check out my next post….

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