Ask the Trainer: Which Supplements Should I Take?

Supplements are a hot topic.  Everybody wants to find the magic pill, while others think they are a scam.  It's a $25 Billion plus industry, so somebody must be buying them!  And yes, the haters will say: "just, eat better", and I agree, in theory.  But the reality is I don't have time or energy to get all of these nutrients in my regular daily diet.   So which supplements do you really need to supplement?  Here is my starter list:

EPA/DHA - aka Omega 3-6-9 aka Fish Oil.  Everyone needs more healthy fats in their diet. Complete EFA 3-6-9 has Omega 3-6-9 and DHA, EFA, and EPA or essential fatty acids that are critical to body function. Your body doesn't produce much DHA and it must come from food sources. DHA maintains heart health by decreasing the risk of clots, lowering levels of triglycerides, slowing the growth of plaque and decreasing inflammation in the veins. Current recommendation is 6-9 Fish Oil softgels a day. I like these Twinlab soft gels the best because they contain almost 2x as much 3-6-9 as most other brands and they are virtually tasteless. Be wary of cheap fish oil - you will burp up fish all day long.

Vitamin D - Many studies have shown that most Americans do not get enough vitamin D.  This is simply because most of us live too far from the equator to get enough sun to naturally produce enough vitamin D.  In fact for those north of the 34th parallel (Los Angles) - it may be physically impossible to get enough sun.  For this reason the USDA fortifies foods with it.  Vitamin D is one of the most important supplements to take. Latest studies show it may help to slow degenerative brain diseases and fight cancer. Current recommended amount is up from 400 to 800 IU a day.  Some sources suggest 2000 IU or more a day is safe and better for you.  Vitamin D is fat soluble - so you can take too much. One should not exceed 10,000 IU a day, or you will increase your risk for kidney stones and liver damage.  Because of the popularity of vitamin D, you can now get 5000 IU soft gels from most manufacturers.

If you are unsure about what and how much you should be taking, consult with a health professional before making significant changes in your diet.

Probiotics - Healthy gut bacteria is important for overall health, digestion, and immune system.  Probiotics can help replenish and maintain the good bacteria.  More than 40 diseases have been linked to bacterial imbalance.  But more importantly, when the gut works better, your body works better, and you feel better.

Vitamin B - And finally my dirty little secret: B Stress Complex is a magic energy pill. Vitamin B does a lot of things for you, but most importantly it is needed to convert carbohydrates into glucose thus giving you more efficient energy production and less fatigue and lethargy.  I like the Twinlab because it is a complete B mix, in a vegetarian capsule, AND also contains 1000mg of C - so it's really a two-for-one, which makes it a great value. Vitamin B and C are water-soluble, so you can't take too much.

Have a question? Ask below in the comment section and I'll try to answer!

Josha Krueger is a NSCA-CSCS certified personal trainer, an AFPA Sports Nutrition Consultant, and owner of Kru Strength + Fitness.

Filed under: Nutrition, Vitamins

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