Vitamins and I have had a very on-and-off relationship throughout my life thus far. I’ve gone through phases where I get all enthusiastic about making sure I take them religiously, every day, and there have been times where I think “heck with vitamins! who needs ’em?! let’s see if my body can still thrive solely on just eating right and exercising!” Yep. It’s a roller coaster ride, vitamins. Especially with Ayurveda training, in school it was herbs that were emphasized, not vitamins. Following an Ayurvedic-like diet, you’d optimally get all the nutrients through food medicinally instead. And that’s kind of where we left off, you see.
With my recent start of personal training sessions, I’ve been encouraged to start a relationship with vitamins again. The rationale? Rigorous workouts raise your body’s vitamin and mineral requirements, so it’s pretty much guaranteed you won’t get all of the nutrients you need from food alone. She’s emphasized vitamin C especially, to ward off any possible colds/flu/sickness this time of year, because as we all know, the gym can be a petri dish of crazy stuff we all don’t want. She encouraged me to start taking my women’s daily multivitamin again, as well as the calcium/vitamin D and evening primrose that I’ve had but had never been taking religiously. Shame shame shame!
So, since I’m always a huge advocate in having awareness of everything we put in our bodies, I thought it would be nice to do some research on these five supplements I’ve recently started to take, and share that with all of you. In addition, as the weeks go on, I would like to check back in and report with any possible changes I’ve experienced whether it be increased energy, less fatigue, better sleep, increased muscle recovery, overall better sense of well-being, etc. Kinda fun stuff, huh? And maybe you’ll be inspired to incorporate a few of these into your diet, as well, depending on your needs.
Now, let’s get to it. *
1. Walgreen’s One Daily For Women
According to Dr. Oz, “a study of 3 million people revealed that only 1% of the participants got enough essential vitamins from diet alone”, which is why a multivitamin is essential. Yikes! Guess I was all wrong about that one. I’ve been taking this multivitamin for at least 5 years, it seems (off and on, of course). It’s very budget friendly, gets the job done, and there’s usually always a Walgreens around if I ever run out. I’ve heard many times that you don’t need to break the bank for a solid well-rounded daily dose of the things you need because we will only absorb a certain percentage of the vitamin anyhow, never the entire thing. If you’re interested in doing a little science experiment, here’s an activity to test out to see just how much of each vitamin you take is typically absorbed in your GI.
Here’s what to look for:
- 100% of the DV in all of the 12 essential vitamins and minerals (ie. B, C, E, zinc). Note: only women that are menstruating need iron. All post-menopausal women and men do not need it.
- More is not necessarily better! Think 100%, not 1,000%.
- This particular combination provides vitamins for bone health (calcium, magnesium, vitamins A and D, copper, manganese), healthy skin, hair, and nails (vitamin C, B12, iron and zinc), reproductive health and support during PMS and menopause (folic acid, vitamins B6, B12, magnesium, zinc and calcium), breast health with vitamin D, energy (B6, B12, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid and iron), and enhances immunity (A, C, E, zinc and selenium). Great deal, huh?
2. Trader Joe’s Organic Spirulina, 500 mg per tablet
Spiru…what?! Yeah, spee-rue-leeh-na. It’s awesome stuff. You’ve had an Odwalla Superfood Smoothie before, haven’t you? Well that is chock full of this stuff. Blue green algae. I’ve always seemed to have a ton of energy and feeling great when I have it in my diet. It has a rich supply of nutrients, including iron, vitamins A, K, and B complex. According to HerbWisdom.com, it’s the richest beta carotene food, “with a full spectrum of of ten mixed carotenoids”, having ten times more beta carotene than carrots! It also is the highest source of B12 (great for all those vegans), and apparently it’s great for anti-aging! Who doesn’t love that? Additional positive benefits: stimulates beneficial bacterial flora, reduce inflammation, increase stamina and immunity levels in athletes, helps build muscle mass, can help curb hunger that may develop during training routines, helps remove free radicals and toxins, and reduce LDL cholesterol (the “lousy” one). It could also be purchased in powder form to mix it in water or smoothies, as the digestion process is facilitated a bit faster that way. Research shows that it is not advisable to take spirulina if you have an auto-immune disorder, or if you suffer from phenylketonuria because the tablets contain phenylalanine.
Here’s what to look for:
- At least 500 mg in each tablet, ideally taking 3-5 per day.
- Look for quality tablets made without sugars, fillers, animal parts, preservatives, stabilizers, colors, coatings, or any other additives. The color of the tablet should be uniformly dark green.
3. Naturally Preferred C (similar), 500 mg per tablet
Oh, thee lovely vitamin see. Such a wonderful natural antioxidant that protects cells and tissues from free radicals, and is essential for the formation of body protein, and building strong bones, skin, teeth, gums/gingiva (what I advocate for a living!), cartilage, and capillaries. Currently only 60-95 milligrams per day are recommended here in the US, but as long as you don’t take more than 2,000 you’re good. My personal trainer specifically recommend I buy these supplements to take 1-3 times per day, depending on if I’m working hard. Definitely to take one after a workout, to help with the buildup of lactic acid and prevent fatigue, aches, and pains. Not enough vitamin C can result in anemia, bleeding gingiva, decreased ability to fight infection, decreased wound healing rate, gingivitis, nosebleeds, slower metabolism, swollen/painful joints, weakened enamel… as you can see, it’s very important to advocate in the dental profession. Besides getting it from your oranges and strawberries in the summertime, this can be a little extra boost in the winter when those lovely fruits aren’t as plentiful.
Here’s what to look for:
- Tablets in 500 mg form, that way you can adjust the dosage according to your needs. With 1,000 mg tablets, you’ll most likely secrete most of it out and not absorb it all.
- Some suggest to look for a vitamin C product with bioflavonoids. Apparently when combined, they boost the power of vitamin C. Don’t quote me on this.
4. Evening Primrose Oil (similar), 1,000 mg per liquid capsule
I’ve heard nothing but beautiful things about primrose, especially for women. Having a lot of Pitta-like symptoms during the summer (Ayurvedically speaking), I turned to this when my PMS was out of control, and I was super heated and feeling completely unlike myself. I had heard about it several times throughout my course of studying Ayurveda, and have known that pretty much anything stemming from the word “rose” is great for heat and soothing Pitta. It contains GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), an essential fatty acid for growth and development, and is a great inflammatory fighter helping reduce eczema and other skin disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, breast pain during menstrual cycles, PMS, cancer, and diabetes however there is not enough sufficient evidence to prove this to be true. You can read real life experiences from these folks here.
Here’s what to look for:
- Nothing specifically, other than one that fits into your budget and lifestyle.
5. Calcium + Vitamin D (similar), 600 mg / 125 iu per tablet
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been told I’m not getting enough calcium in my diet. I have about 6 more years to build up my calcium bank before it gets depleted for good. Let’s prevent osteoporosis! Calcium and vitamin D are two essential nutrients that work together to support bone and colon health. Calcium is the primary mineral responsible for strong bones and muscle and nerve impulses, while vitamin D helps increase calcium absorption and possesses immune support capabilities. Vitamin D is especially great for those that don’t get enough sunlight (ahem, ME) if you live in a northern climate or are dark-skinned. The maximum is 2,500 mg per day, just to get an idea, so this is virtually worth a nice cup of yogurt, milk or cheese. Especially important to take if one is lactose intolerant. Also, it is reported that it interferes with iron absorption, so it is recommended to take it separately of calcium.
Here’s what to look for:
- Always choose calcium that also contains vitamin D. It is needed to help the body absorb the calcium.
- Look for labels that contain the word “purified” or the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) symbol.
- Watch out for supplements made from unrefined oyster shell, bone meal, or dolomite that don’t have the USP symbol. They may have high levels of lead or other toxins.
Well, that’s all for now, folks! I’d love to do more research and add additional information at some point in the future, but I think what I mostly need to focus on is doing a bit more baking! Recipes coming soon, I promise. xo
*DISCLAIMER: Please please please check with your physician or nutritionalist before taking any of these vitamins and supplements on your own. None of these statements have been approved by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases. It is always wise to research them yourself and exercise care regarding anything you put into your own body, especially if you are taking other additional medications. Don’t just take my word for it. You know your own body better than anyone else. Use your wisdom, use your common sense.