Three Supplements You Actually Need

Aug 8, 2017, 12:33 PM by Mikayla Taggart

We all go to Whole Foods or Rite Aid, where there are bottles upon bottles of supplements that tell us they will make us younger, feel great and stay healthy. But how do you know what you need? Everything? Or nothing at all?

Here are three supplements that everyone should be taking in addition to a well-balanced diet.

Fish oil

What is Fish Oil?
• Fish oil is a term referring to two different types of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. They’re generally found in fish (of course) and other animal products but can be consumed as a pill or a liquid. Omega-3 fatty acids elicit an anti-inflammatory response in the body.
• The food we eat generally contains a lot of omega-6 fatty acids, which cause inflammation in the body. Combining both types of omega-3s together helps balance out a 1:1 ratio with omega-6.

How Does it Help?
• Decreasing triglycerides: A high triglyceride count in your blood can be a component of metabolic syndrome. This puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Studies show supplementing with a fish oil pill can reduce the level of triglycerides in your bloodstream.
• There is also evidence that fish oil may lessen the effects of arthritis to combat the inflammatory response associated with it.

Fish Oil Tip: Many people say they get “fish burps” as a result of taking fish oil pills, so a great way to combat this issue is by freezing them ahead of time. Even if you don’t mind the fish burps, these pills must stay either in the fridge or freezer in order to maintain their composition.


What is Probiotic?
• Probiotics are the new kid on the block. That means there’s tons of research that has been done on its supplementation, but there’s still some unknown aspects of it.
• These pills contain real microorganisms whose job is to maintain a healthy digestive tract in your body. They help us digest food, kill harmful microorganisms and absorb nutrients from our food.

How Does it Help?
• Studies mainly show the effectiveness of probiotics in treating digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colic in infants and prevention of the common cold. Otherwise, it seems like the literature is limited based on the National Institute of Health’s article, Probiotics: In Depth. The FDA doesn’t even support the use of probiotics yet to prevent or treat disease. However, don’t let that discourage you from trying it out! The FDA takes an obscene amount of time to approve the use of a supplement. I’ve personally seen a difference in my complexion by taking a probiotic every day — my skin is much less inflamed, as if it were being triggered by my digestive health.

Probiotic Tip: Make sure there are many different strains of bacteria in the probiotic you choose. The rule of thumb is 6 or more strains is most effective, according to the National Institute of Health, which is based on current literature. Having multiple different strains of bacteria in a probiotic has shown to provide the most benefits. Each bacteria strain has a different job — therefore, you want to reap the most rewards from having the most strains.


What is Multivitamin?
• Multivitamins are intended to be taken once a day, and their composition varies between age, gender and even lifestyle. It’s important to know what suits your needs and how well made the vitamin is.

How Does it Help?
• Multivitamins supplement a diet that is lacking in nutrients. We are all human and consuming the most well-rounded diet isn’t always feasible. We can consume a diet that works for us and meets guidelines from the USDA, and supplement that by using a multivitamin to fill in any gaps in nutrients.

Multivitamin Tips: Here are four important tips to follow when purchasing a multivitamin based on quality and ability to enhance your health:
• Check the back of the bottle. Do any of the micronutrients exceed 100% of the daily value for an average diet? Run! Taking more than 100% of a daily need for a micronutrient — in conjunction with also consuming it in your diet — can cause health problems over time. Too much of a micronutrient can be toxic to your body.
• Vitamin D and calcium may have to be supplemented additionally to your multivitamin.
• Make sure it contains what it says it has in it. The USP will have a label placed on the bottle to show it has met the standards of the U.S. Pharmacopeia.
• For women! Folic acid should definitely be included in a multivitamin for woman who are trying to have a baby or who may become pregnant. This micronutrient is responsible for DNA, which is crucial in the first few weeks of baby growing.

At the end of the day, it’s your job to do research on what is best for you body. Consult your doctor, a wellness coach at the Y or a dietitian for guidance. They can help get you on the right track if supplementation is something you’re interested in.

Mikayla Taggert is a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where she earned her bachelor of science in education degree in exercise physiology. This summer, Mikayla is serving as the health and fitness intern for the YMCA of Boulder Valley and hopes to call Colorado her new home for a long time!