Health or dietary supplements remain somewhat controversial, with many experts explaining their necessity and others claiming you get everything you need from diet alone. However, diet is not universal. It is impossible to understand if everyone is getting the nutrients they need from what they consume without inspecting their intake. Blanket statements that make general assumptions about populations fail to address specific needs within communities.
While this article will not resolve the debate over supplements, it aims to address specific vitamins and minerals that can help support a system. The primary takeaway should not be that supplements are necessary or unnecessary, but rather they balance an already nutrient-dense diet.
1. Skin Health
Skin damage occurs because of sun exposure, lifestyle, and dietary choices. Poor diet or smoking can cause premature aging, as can prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays. Several vitamins have shown potential for improving skin conditions and reducing wrinkles, including vitamins A, C, and E. Additionally, some topical treatments that include collagen can benefit the skin, helping to repair damage and improve elasticity.
2. Bone Health
Vitamin D is known for its skeletal health benefits. Many people can get their vitamin D requirements by spending between 15 and 20 minutes outside every day without sunscreen. Unfortunately, most people, up to 95% or more, do not spend adequate time outdoors, meaning they might be deficient. If you don’t spend enough time outside, consider taking a vitamin D supplement, at least 400 to 800 IU per day.
3. Eye Health
As people age, eye health can deteriorate. There are many contributing factors, from genetics to diet and exposure. Antioxidants can help protect the eyes from damage, including problems caused by inflammation and free radicals. Vitamins A and C and lutein and zeaxanthin can help protect your vision. These supplements can contribute to cornea, macula, and lens health throughout your life.
4. Gut Health
The gut microbiome is a delicate system, and while it is often OK on its own, illness and medications can interfere with the production and health of good bacteria. Good gut bacteria help to produce and distribute vitamins and enzymes. These bacteria also help to crowd out harmful bacteria and destroy them.
When looking for a probiotic supplement, you want to pay attention to the CFUs on the label. The most effective probiotic supplements will have a minimum of 50 billion CFUs and strain diversity. Some of the strains to look for include:
- Lactobacillus Plantarum
- Bacillus clausii
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bacillus subtillis
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
5. Inflammation Response
Omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil supplements might fight inflammation. While it is widely understood that eating fatty fish, such as salmon or mackerel, is the best source of omega-3s, specifically EPA and DHA, some people have a natural aversion to seafood. For those who can’t eat fish several times per week, consider taking supplements, about 1,000 milligrams daily.
Vitamins A, C, and E can also reduce the inflammation response by counteracting hormonal responses and managing blood sugar levels. However, before taking any supplement, talk to your primary care physician about which supplements are safe for you to take.
6. Energy and Mental Health
B vitamins are vital to cellular processes and mental health and endurance. A deficiency can lead to increased anxiety and reduced energy levels, leading to fatigue. Many people deficient in B vitamins are often on plant-based diets; although, even meat-eaters can struggle to absorb enough.
What vitamins and supplements do you take if any? Leave a comment below explaining why you do or do not take supplements, and help move the conversation forward.