A supplement’s purpose is to “supplement” your overall diet, bridging the gap between your usual dietary intake and nutrient needs. Supplements are generally available without a prescription and are available in pill, powder, or liquid form. Vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and herbal products, also known as botanicals, are examples of common supplements. And, of course, protein powders and weight-loss supplements are also included in this category. These supplements are taken by people to ensure that they get adequate vital nutrients and to maintain or improve their overall health.
While dietary supplements cannot replace healthy eating habits, when used responsibly, they can provide a sufficient source of vitamins. Some of the advantages of taking supplements in a rational manner are as follows:
- Keep your overall health in check.
- Help with mental and sports-related performance.
- Assist the immune system.
If you do decide to take a supplement, do so one at a time and keep an eye out for any side effects. Let’s take a look at some of the top ten supplements used in 2021.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is known for strengthening bones, muscle function, and immunity. The sunshine vitamin is probably the most important vitamin you require on a daily basis. Vitamin D helps to regulate immune function and promotes a healthy inflammatory response. It enables the metabolism of calcium and the formation of bones. It is no coincidence that this is one of the few vitamins that humans can produce on their own, with a little help from the sun. We’d be toast without it. It regulates insulin levels and helps with diabetes management as well. Also, influences the expression of genes involved in the development of cancer.
Although sun exposure can provide adequate vitamin D, it is not sufficient for non-nudist or non-equatorial dwellers. During the winter, the appropriate wavelengths do not reach you. If you’re concerned about supplement toxicity, have your vitamin D levels tested and consult a doctor about the appropriate amount to take based
on your blood test results. You can even opt for an online doctor consultation for this.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is required for the development, growth, and repair of all body tissues. It is involved in many bodily functions, including collagen formation, iron absorption, immune system function, wound healing, cartilage, bone, and tooth maintenance. Vitamin C is known for its immune function and for combating oxidative stress. This is one of the most effective and safest dietary supplements available. Vitamin C is required for the formation of collagen and connective tissue. It’s used to make glutathione, the body’s most powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C can improve immune function and help in the fight against free radical damage. Thirty percent of the population is deficient in vitamin C since it is difficult to obtain enough from food. Although some fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, cooking and storage methods can reduce vitamin C content.
This amino acid improves mood, comprehension, physical and mental stress responses, and glandular function. L-tyrosine quickly crosses the blood-brain barrier, increasing the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. It is also a building block for thyroid hormone. Your body can produce L-tyrosine but it reduces when you’re stressed, and most people’s production can’t keep up with modern living. It also helps in the production of proteins, enzymes, thyroid hormones, and skin pigment melanin.
Tyrosine is found in complete protein sources such as beef, chicken, fish, and even whey protein supplements. However, it is suggested to take a dedicated supplement for specialized care and overall wellbeing.
Magnesium is nearly as important as vitamin D and nearly as underappreciated. Magnesium is used in around 300 enzymatic processes, including all of those involved in the production of ATP (energy). It is also required for effective DNA and RNA transcription. Magnesium is beneficial for regulating blood sugar levels, boosting the immune system, and significantly increase energy levels.
Magnesium deficiency is a major issue. Headaches, muscle cramps, nausea, and migraines are among the symptoms—pretty much all of them you wouldn’t want. Because of soil depletion and poor farming practices, getting enough magnesium from the diet alone is nearly impossible. Without a doubt, everyone should take magnesium supplements.
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
To maintain optimal brain function, humans require 350 mg of DHA and EPA per day. The issue is that most people do not get nearly enough omega-3s from their diet alone. They also bind to receptors on the surface of cells that regulate genetic function. Due to these effects, omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may perform a preventive role in cancer and other conditions. Try to incorporate them into your diet by eating fish that has been broiled or baked rather than fried.
Surprisingly, studies show that people who consume omega-3s on a regular basis are less likely to be depressed and have anxiety disorders. Also, adequate omega-3 intake has been linked to a lower risk of macular degeneration, one of the top causes of permanent eye damage and blindness.
6. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in calcium metabolism. It helps to inhibit blood vessel calcification. Calcium is required by our bodies to build and maintain bones. When vitamin K2 degrades calcium in our bodies, it activates a protein that allows the mineral to bind to our bones and do its job. While research is ongoing, studies show that consuming more K2 helps to improve bone density and lowers the risk of bone fractures. Vitamin K2 is found in animal foods and fermented foods. Vitamin K2 occurs in high concentrations in the brain and kidneys.
The antioxidant properties of vitamin K-2 may help protect against cancer. Furthermore, the findings suggest that K-2 may suppress genetic practices that support tumor growth.
Iodine, also called Iodide, is essential for thyroid function and metabolism. Thyroid hormones are also required by the body for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. It also improves immune function and prevents brain damage. Iodine deficiency is common, so supplementation is always advised. Physically active people are especially vulnerable to deficiency because iodine is lost through sweat. Iodine is required by the body to produce thyroid hormones.
You could get some iodine from seafood, but you probably won’t get enough unless you eat it with every meal.
The National Institutes of Health Trusted Source (NIH) has the following recommendations for daily intake based on age to reduce our risk of iodine deficiency:
Daily recommended amount in micrograms (mcg)
Infants between 7–12 months
Children aged 1–8 years
Children aged 9–13 years
Adults and teens, 14 and older
8. Zinc with Copper
Zinc and copper both perform hundreds of important functions in your body to keep you healthy. Zinc is an essential mineral for maintaining healthy immune function, energy production, and mood. It’s vital to take it as a supplement because it can be difficult to get enough from food, and your body doesn’t store it, so you have to regenerate it every day.
Copper is required for proper vascular and heart function, as well as to work in conjunction with zinc. Copper consumption has decreased over the last century as a result of modern farming and dietary practices. Copper levels in modern fruits, vegetables, and conventional meats are 75% lower than in the past. Many studies have found that taking copper with zinc helps balance the absorption of both nutrients. The liver, brain, heart, kidneys, and skeletal muscle contain the majority of the body’s copper.
When your zinc to copper ratio is out of balance, health issues can arise. Because meat is thought to be a more bio-available source of zinc than plant foods, vegetarians and vegans may need to consume up to 50% more zinc than non-vegetarians to achieve optimal levels.
9. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is known for immunity, vision, and reproductive health. This vitamin is a necessary cofactor for a variety of metabolic reactions and bodily functions. Vitamin A is necessary for the preservation of your vision. The vitamin is required for the conversion of light that enters your eye into an electrical signal that can be transmitted to your brain. Scientists claim vitamin A’s influence on cancer risk and role in cancer prevention because it plays an important role in cell growth and development.
Vitamin A is also essential for maintaining your body’s natural defenses. This includes mucous barriers in your eyes, lungs, gut, and genitals, which enable the trapping of bacteria and other infectious agents. It also plays a role in the production and function of white blood cells, which facilitate the capture and removal of bacteria and other pathogens from your bloodstream. This means that vitamin A deficiency can lead to an increased risk of infections and cause you to recover more slowly when you are sick.
10. Methyl B-12 and Methyl Folate
This stimulates brainpower. Most people are deficient in vitamin B12, but B vitamins are essential for maintaining healthy cells, nerve function, and energy production. The brain is one of the most important areas for B-12. It is required for the methylation reactions that assist in DNA repair to continue. Vitamin B-12 may also assist in the reduction of homocysteine, an amino acid that, in excess, can damage blood vessels.
Methyl B-12 is methylcobalamin, a form of vitamin B-12 that your body can use more easily. Take it with folate, which is a type of vitamin B9. Folate promotes heart and nervous system health. Take them together if you want balanced doses of both to maintain brain health. Folic acid/folate and vitamin B12 are two B vitamins that are required for both red blood cell production and iron utilization. It also supports the liver, hair, and skin.
Ultimately, getting the majority of our nutrients from food is the best option. There is really, however, a time and place for supplement usage, such as for a deficiency, certain disease states, or when there is research to support the positive benefits. Everyone should take supplements, but how much depends on your diet and other lifestyle factors. If you’re unsure where to begin, consult with your healthcare provider, an online physician, or a dietitian to develop a personalized plan that works for you.