If you’ve ever wondered what supplements you can take to improve your health then this is the subject I am aiming to address today.
As I have already stated in this series of articles, supplements are the last thing you want to think of when it comes to improving your health. You should firstly focus on improving your sleep, improving your stress management, eating a good variety of nutrient dense food.
This would include plenty of fruits and veggies, plenty of meats, plenty of fibrous carbohydrates as well, of course, getting in some balance here and there through chocolate, cakes, alcohol and other less nutrient dense items. All to ensure a fully dense nutrient profile and a balanced healthy life.
Supplementation is the cherry on the top of the mini muffin, it’s the icing on the cake. It is the last thing you should be focusing on really, although it’s one of the things that I’m probably asked most about when it comes to health, performance and weight loss.
There are some supplements that can do great things for improving your health, but they are going to do bugger all unless you get those basics done first.
Once that’s addressed, what we can actually take that’s going to improve our health?
Number One; Omega 3 fish oils. Specifically Omega 3, not cod liver oil or anything else. We’re looking at getting a good amount of EPA and DHA, so make sure when you’re buying your omega 3 fish oils the amount of combined EPA and DHA is stated on the back.
There is plenty of evidence to support that fish oils can help improve our blood pressure and improve our heart health markers. There is also evidence to show that they can improve depressive tendencies, as well.
This makes total sense, omega 3 fish oil in comparison to saturated fat and other things has always been shown that having a better ratio of fatty acids. Plenty of mono and poly unsaturated fats compared to saturated fat is a good thing for our overall health and a good thing for our heart health as well.
How much you should take depends on your oily fish intake through the week. If you are eating salmon, mackerel or fresh tuna several times a week, you probably don’t need to worry about taking omega 3 fish oils. However, if you’re not a massive fan of eating fish or you just don’t do so very often, for whatever reason, taking some supplements is definitely going to help you.
I would recommend somewhere between 300 to 1000 milligrams of EPA and DHA, depending on your current oily fish status. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, then it note that there are sources available from algae oil that you can take to improve your omega 3 oil status.
Number Two; Vitamin D. Now vitamin D has got so many benefits that it’s actually being known as a bit more of a pro-hormone. The implementation of this vitamin for overall health and well being is so important.
We absorb most of our natural vitamin D from sun exposure and at the moment in the UK we’re going through a bit of a heatwave. For mid-April, it’s really nice weather, we are in lockdown, but, if you can get outside for some decent sun exposure in the middle of the day, I would massively recommend that you do so.
Vitamin D is so important because, it improves our immune system, it can improve bone health through calcium reabsorption, it has been associated with lower levels of certain degenerative diseases and improves depression as well.
How much you should be taking depends on the amount of sun exposure that you get and it also depends slightly on your skin pigmentation. If you have a lighter skin tone, then in the winter, or when you’re not getting as much sun, I probably would recommend around 1300iu per day.
If you have a darker skin pigmentation, you don’t absorb vitamin D as well through sun exposure and you would need around 2100iu to 3100iu per day, year round.
Number Three; (possibly!) although I mentioned creatine as a sports performance supplement, there are some good benefits to brain function to help people with a lack of sleep.
Creatine monohydrate then is one of those that you could you could consider based upon whether you want improvements in cognitive function.
Another little bonus is that multivitamins are something that you could consider taking if you don’t eat a lot of fruit and vegetables or if you are in a calorie deficit and eating less. If you have a good balanced diet you shouldn’t really need one.
Probiotics; the data around probiotics being useful for gut health are mixed, but some are quite positive, especially if you’ve taken antibiotics. Antibiotics can take a hit on your gut bacteria, but actually the best thing for your gut health is to eat plenty of fibre, plenty of diverse fruit and vegetables and plenty of gut health promoting bacteria foods like dairy.
If you have more queries around gut health, what actually works and why? Then I would check out my podcast episode number seven of the flat white Chronicles where I spoke to Dr Gabriella Fundaro who did her PhD thesis on gut health, and we have a fantastic, fantastic discussion on what we really know about gut health and how we can really complicate it.