The Three Most Important Supplements for Optimal Health

Studies have shown that deficiencies in certain areas can lead to a variety of health issues. To ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs, it is important to include a multivitamin in your daily routine. Look for a multivitamin that provides at least 100 percent of the daily value of all vitamins and minerals, such as One Daily Men's or One Daily Women's from The Vitamin Shoppe. Probiotics are also essential for maintaining good health.

While higher potencies may be needed for those who need to replace good bacteria after taking antibiotics, a supplement of 3 billion CFU will suffice for daily maintenance. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, are also important for cardiovascular, brain and eye health. Unfortunately, most Americans don't consume enough of them because they don't eat enough fish or produce enough omega-3s from fatty acids found in plant-based sources. Vitamins are also essential for your body to grow and function properly.

There are 13 essential vitamins, including vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12 and folate). To get the full amount of folate and folic acid in our diets, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that folic acid be added to certain foods (if fortified, it will appear on the label).

Vitamin D is especially important for your body to absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to certain types of cancer and heart disease. However, unlike other vitamins, our main source of vitamin D is not food but the sun. Therefore, risk factors for low vitamin D levels include living in high latitudes, high levels of air pollution or urban smog, covering dense clouds, clothing that always covers the skin and the generous use of sunscreens (although both are very important in protecting the skin from sun damage) and skin pigmentation darker.

If you don't eat fish or if these foods aren't available to you, talk to your doctor about a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin A is important for vision, skin health and immunity. It's found in preformed vitamin A (retinol) and in beta-carotene which your body converts to an active form of vitamin A. Although severe vitamin deficiencies aren't common, you may not be getting enough of these 5 vitamins.

It's very difficult to get the vitamin D you need from your diet; oily fish and fortified dairy products are the only important sources. Therefore supplements make sense for most adults. The form known as vitamin D3 is generally recommended but D2 is also effective; for best results take vitamin D with a meal that contains some fat. If you want to make sure you need this supplement ask for a blood test; levels of at least 30 nanograms per milliliter are considered to be the best. Dietary supplements include vitamins, fish oil, herbs, minerals such as calcium and more.

If you take one you're not alone.

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