Which individual supplements should I take?
I generally eat pretty healthily and stay relatively fit but I wonder if I’m getting enough vitamins and minerals. Is there a product (available in the UK) that contains the right mixes of daily vitamins and minerals and if not, which individual supplements should I take to compliment a healthy lifestyle. (ps… I don’t want to take so many pills that I rattle!)
Thanks for the question! First a disclaimer: It’s always important to talk to your personal health care provider about supplements -some should not be taken due to medication interactions and individual conditions.
Now, my general recommendations:
Although a healthy and balanced diet is most important, I do believe that most people, and athletes especially, need a good multivitamin/multimineral, extra vitamin D, and fish oil (or another source of DHA/EPA omega-3s) in addition to healthy foods. Mostly, I recommend this because our soils have been over-farmed (which decreases the amount of nutrients in our foods), our waters are polluted (which is one reason we can’t eat as much seafood as we’d like), and our ability to get outside and get sunlight year round has decreased with more time spent inside and at a desk. And, there’s a lot of exciting research that supports higher levels of vitamin D supplementation than previous recommendations.
Generally, I recommend these daily supplements:
- Rainbow Light multivitamin (see http://bit.ly/AwnPQ1 – they have a separate multivitamin for men and women). This is one of my favorite brands as it contains a good mix of vitamins/minerals, probiotics, enzymes and “green” nutrients. And, it looks like you can get it online in the UK, at least, according to what turned up in my trusty google search.
- 1000-2000 IU additional vitamin D (in addition to the amount in the multivitamin and in addition to what you get from sunlight)
- 1000-2000 mg DHA/EPA (in combo, and in addition to ~12 oz. fatty fish per week). Nordic Naturals is a really good brand – you want the source to be small, low-mercury fish such as anchovies, shrimp, sardines, etc.
Additionally, individual athletes may need extra iron, probiotics, calcium, etc. But, these 3 pills are a good place to start for most healthy athletes.
As you look for supplements, the keys are to find ones that 1) have what they claim they have (no exaggerated claims) and 2) don’t have anything that’s harmful. You don’t want lead or other dangerous heavy metals, and I try to stay away from colorings, flavorings, and unnecessary additives. Since this industry is not really regulated, it can be hard to find good brands that have support from a 3rd party expert. I often www.consumerlab.com, a completely impartial 3rd party site that tests supplements and reports on their ingredients. They don’t have every brand, but it can be a good starting point. I hope this helps!