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Supplements... do you really need them?

Updated on May 21, 2015

What Supplements do you take?

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What supplements does your body really need?

It seems like a new magic vitamin or supplement promising great health appears every day. The manufacturers promise that all you need to do is take the supplement each day and your health goals will be achieved. Have you bought into the hype? How much do you spend on supplements to get results? Many people spend hundreds of dollars each month on supplements crediting all their positive health results to supplements that don't do a whole lot. The truth of the matter is if you work hard and eat correctly you only need to focus on three four essential nutrients your body needs and that are delivered through taking supplements.

  1. Vitamins
  2. Minerals
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids
  4. Water

All four are called essential nutrients, meaning that each is essential for your body to function optimally. Essential also means that your body cannot synthesize (make) enough of these nutrients or that it cannot synthesize them at all. It IS possible for you to get the optimal amount of vitamins, minerals and omega fatty acids by diversifying your food choices. Which means you don't need to take any supplements if you eat the right foods. However the majority of us lead very busy lives and because of this we lack the necessary diversity in our foods. Which means most of us do not get enough of the essential nutrients our bodies need. This is the main reason I would recommend taking a multivitamin/mineral and omega-3 fatty acids.

Multivitamin/Mineral Recommendations

The marketplace is saturated with multivitamin/minerals, I won't recommend any specific brand but I will suggest the type you should purchase. Your "multi" will come in one of four different forms:

  1. Liquid
  2. capsule
  3. chewable
  4. tablet

Your best choice is always the liquid, since this will ensure maximum absorption. The two things to watch for are the taste and the cost of the supplement. A liquid supplement is always more expensive and will typically last one month. Liquid is ideal for anyone who suffers from digestive challenges. Your second choice is the capsule form. Capsules are absorbed better than your 3rd & 4th choices. Chewable form of supplements have better absorption than a tablet. Tablets should be your last choice. Many times they are not even digested by the body. I always state the fact; "they make your urine expensive"

I would suggest to follow the recommended dosage on the bottle and make sure you take it in the morning with your food. You want to be careful not to over-consume vitamins and minerals. Two important keys to the program are balance and quality which means taking more is not necessarily better. You need to make sure you get just the amount your body needs.

Omega 3

95% of the population are deficient in omega 3 fatty acids. Studies show that omega-3's can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve brain function and reduce joint pain & inflammation. Since omega-3 is an essential fatty acid (your body cannot make it), it is crucial that you get it through food or supplementation. Here are 3 options;

  1. Eat a fatty fish at least 3 times a week, preferably salmon.
  2. Take 3,000 to 5,000 mg of fish oil. Works out to be between 3-5 capsules a day. (depending on the brand) If you suffer from acid reflux or have a sensitive stomach, fish oil can cause you to have burps that smell like fish (not pleasant) There are 2 ways to avoid this: Purchase pharmaceutical-grad fish oil or freeze your gel caps. Freezing them will delay digestion and usually prevents any reflux.
  3. Take 3,000 to 5,000 mg of flaxseed. Flaxseed oil gelcaps typically do not cause reflux, it can be used in shakes as your source of fat. Flaxseeds can be eaten whole or ground and added to any meal as a topping

Water- Your Fluid

Water is the core component, and yet the most underestimated essential nutrient, in your overall health. Water is a crucial part of achieving your goals. Your body is made up of approx. 60 - 70 percent water. You can live up to five weeks without food, however you can live only 3 - 5 days without water. Which speaks for itself... water is very important to your body. There are 4 main benefits of drinking enough water.

  1. Water keeps your metabolism humming. Achieving stable blood sugar will cause your body to consistently release fat and toxins. Correct water intake flushes out the excess by-products that your body does not need. Proper hydration allows your kidneys and liver to work at optimal efficiency. As well, water is required to maximize digestion and prevent constipation.
  2. Water maintains healthy blood and muscles. Your body's survival is based on iit's flow throughout your circulatory system. If you are dehydrated, your body may not have enough ater to keep your blood flowing smoothly. If this is the case, your body will release a hormone called antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which trippers your kidneys to absorb available water (from any part of your body) to increase total body water. This then increases your blood pressure and blood volume. Your other bodily needs will suffer, because water is necessary in every bodily function. Lack of water directly affects your body's ability to metabolize your food, leading to bloating and constipation. So stay hydrated.
  3. Water radiates your skin. Your skin looks "fresh" when it is hyradated. Combined with the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and you will get the "glowing look" we all wish for.
  4. Water eliminates bloating. Every gram of sodium & carbohydrate attaches itself to water molecules. This is why after you eat a salty meal with bread, or heavy carbs, you feel bloated. Drinking more water when you are bloated will cause your body to release stored water and eliminate sodium. When most people believe that drinking more water will cause more bloating which is far from the truth.

The More Water You Drink, The Better

Depending on how active you are and the environment (i.e. hot or cold climate) you live in the standard recommendation for water intake is an ounce of water per pound of body weight. Typically males require more water than females due to weight and additional muscle mass. Hydrated muscle contracts approximately 10 to 20 percent better than dehydrated muscle. This maximum contraction allows you to optimize your exercise and results. Hydrated muscle is tighter and provides a more toned, firm body.

Simple guidelines: 1 cup = 8 ounces

FEMALES: Drink at least 8 cups of water per day (64 ounces / 2 litres) So with every meal (5-6 a day) drink an 8 ounce glass and in between meals at least one 8 ounce glass. This will ensure you get 16 ounces every 3-4 hours. Ideally you should work your way up to 12-16 cups per day (3-4 Litres)

MALES: Drink at least 12 cups of water per day (96 ounces / 3 litres) So with every meal (5-6 a day) drink an 12 ounce glass and in between meals at least one 12 ounce glass. This will ensure you get 24 ounces every 3-4 hours. Ideally you should work your way up to 16-24 cups per day (4-6 Litres)

Two ways your body tells you it needs water:

First sign, is the feeling of thirst. If you feel thirsty... you have waited to long. The key is to keep drinking so that you never get thirsty. This ensures that your body stays hydrated. The second sign is if your urine is clear, you are hydrated. The only exception to this is when you are taking a multivitamin/mineral and it is not being absorbed well or has a lot of water soluble vitamins (B & C) Excess water soluble vitamins are urinated out of your body and color your urine. If you are experiencing this , you may want to take a different multivitamin/mineral, one that can be absorbed better.

DRINK UP! You will see, feel and experience the difference with a hydrated body!


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