Food First, Supplements Second
Combine food & supplements to enrich your diet
One of the most popular questions I am asked as a Registered Dietitian is what type of supplements to take. While I wish I could answer this with one easy response, we all know that every BODY has its unique nutritional needs. I always say ‘food first’ when it comes to nutrients. There are a few supplements that many people can benefit from, a few nutrients that are ideal to get from food rather than from supplements, and recommended supplements if you want to incorporate them into your lifestyle. If you are concerned that you are low in certain nutrients, or want to learn more about which supplements are right for you, talk to your Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Naturopathic Doctor, or other health care provider who knows your health history.
We all know that every BODY has its unique nutritional needs. I always say, ‘food first’ when it comes to nutrients.
Opt for these foods over supplements:
Vitamin C-rich foods Rather than popping back those sachets of vitamin C powder, peel open a few clementines. You will ditch the added ingredients in those powders (usually some form of processed sugar) and will get the added benefit of fibre and other nutrients from the real deal. Other foods that are rich in vitamin C: red and green bell peppers, broccoli, kale, papaya and pineapple.
Calcium-rich foods When choosing dairy products, select organic yoghurt or kefir (for the added benefit of probiotic properties) or goat’s/sheep’s milk cheeses, which are easier to digest. Non-dairy sources of calcium include dark, leafy greens (broccoli, kale, bok choy, watercress), canned fish, bone-in (wild salmon, sardines), nuts and seeds.
Magnesium-rich foods Did you know, magnesium works synergistically with calcium (same with vitamin D) to help your body absorb these minerals)? To increase your magnesium intake, snack on pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup), dark chocolate (70% or higher, 3 squares) and eat those ubiquitous dark, leafy greens (notice a trend here – eat your greens!).
Supplements to consider:
Vitamin D As previously mentioned, vitamin D, magnesium and calcium are all good friends, working together to help with absorption. The reason why I suggest vitamin D in supplement form is due to our climate. There is a reason why this vitamin, which is hard to obtain during the winter, is called the ‘sunshine vitamin’, so boost your mood and immune system with a supplement. Be sure to discuss dosage with a health care provider.
Vitamin D, magnesium and calcium are all good friends, working together to help with absorption.
Probiotics Bacteria is all the rage, and we want to make sure our intestinal flora is up to snuff to combat all the things we hit it with. While you can eat a lot of fermented foods (please do!), there are certain strains of probiotics that are more specific to certain health needs (e.g. IBS and UTIs). Overall, most people can benefit from the bacterial boost to their health and wellness. Again, talk to a health care provider for type and dosage.
Omega 3s (EPA/DHA) While you can get omega 3s from some food sources, the greatest means is from oily fish and sea vegetables. However, reports from many clients who tell me their food history do not show that they eat enough of these foods to meet their needs. Supplements are, therefore, an easy way to add omega 3 to your diet and to support brain health while reducing overall inflammation. Fish-based or sea vegetable-based are both excellent choices.