The Most Effective Supplements for Optimal Health

When it comes to optimal health, there are certain supplements that can help you reach your goals. A good quality multivitamin is one of the most important supplements for overall health. Fish oil supplements provide the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for regulating inflammation. Vitamin D is also essential for good health, and it's very difficult to get the vitamin D you need from your diet; blue fish and fortified dairy products are the only important sources.

So supplements make sense for most adults. The form known as vitamin D3 is usually recommended, but D2 is also effective; for best results, take vitamin D along with a meal that has some fat. Creatine is very popular among fitness enthusiasts, and for good reason. While you still need to train steadily to gain strength, creatine can provide a good energy boost by helping cells produce energy, which in turn helps you build more muscle. There are some people who don't respond, but most do.

The body produces its own creatine, but not at levels that maximize muscle growth, so using a supplement makes sense for some people. You can get creatine from meat, but it's hard to get as much creatine through food as you would get from a supplement. And if you don't eat a lot of meat or don't eat meat at all, creatine may be even more beneficial. Perhaps the most interesting research on creatine these days involves potential benefits for cognition and depression. Garlic is another supplement that has surprising benefits.

The most common belief about garlic is that it boosts the immune system and helps prevent us from getting sick, and it could happen, but the research is not clear. What is most clear is the positive effect of garlic on blood pressure and cholesterol. Garlic will not make people immune to heart disease or drastically reduce the risk, and its effects are only reliably seen in people with high blood pressure and cholesterol. However, it can be a useful tool in your arsenal to help improve lipid panels. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

Taking it can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep when you're lying in bed at night, helping you avoid the dreaded “tiredness” but completely awake. It can also modestly improve the quality of sleep. Results may vary, but there are enough people who benefit from taking melatonin to be worth mentioning. Even if you don't personally find the benefits of melatonin supplements, focusing on melatonin can pay off. How is that? Well, you can manipulate the levels of melatonin in your body without taking a supplement.

The reason camping can reset your circadian rhythm, for example, is because it forces you to avoid the blue part of the visible light spectrum at night and then forces you to see that light in the morning. Blue light suppresses the body's own production of melatonin. You can approach the effect of camping at home by avoiding excess light from the television, computer and smartphone at night. As I mentioned in the previous email, while multivitamins don't make much sense for most people, sometimes it's a good idea to take individual nutrients. Zinc is interesting because it is abundant in diets that include beef and fortified cereals, but it is low in some diets or disease states. For example, lower levels of zinc become more common when people are insulin resistant or have type 2 diabetes.

Are you vegan? Vitamin B12 is your friend.

In addition

to zinc, magnesium levels tend to be low in people with type 2 diabetes, and supplements may help. Evidence suggests that some supplements may improve health in different ways. The most popular nutritional supplements are multivitamins, calcium and vitamins B, C and D. Calcium promotes bone health, and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.

Vitamins C and E are antioxidant molecules that prevent cell damage and help maintain health. Previous research suggested that men who took vitamin E supplements may have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Folic acid (400 micrograms) a day, whether from supplements or from fortified foods, is important for all women of childbearing age. These include glucosamine (for joint pain) and herbal supplements such as echinacea (immune health) and flaxseed oil (digestion). In most cases, scientific research on supplements begins with simple observational studies, in which researchers compare the health status of people who take a particular supplement with the health of people who don't take it. Many people take supplements in the belief that they will preserve health or prevent disease; many others use supplements in an attempt to treat specific conditions that have already developed. Publicity may be overshadowing research right now (thousands of gurus and supplement companies consider curcumin to be a wonderful supplement; while research results are generally positive, they are sometimes mixed or of poor methodological quality), but curcumin shows promise for lowering cholesterol, improving blood sugar control, reducing symptoms of depression and reducing osteoarthritis pain. So even if you take supplements, make sure you eat well, exercise regularly, and work with your doctor to keep your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar under good control.

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