When it comes to your family’s health, one of the most important things you can do is ensure they have a healthy diet. Unfortunately, with busy schedules, we can all use some help staying on track. That’s where supplements can be helpful. With Family Day right around the corner, we thought it would be the perfect time to discuss which supplements your family should be taking.
Taking a multivitamin supplement is a smart way to ensure you and your family are covering your nutritional basics. Multivitamins help fill in the gaps in your diet by providing essential nutrients that might otherwise contribute to health problems.
But with so many different multivitamins on the market, it can be difficult to find one that works for everyone in your family. That’s okay because you can find multis that are designed for a specific age range, activity level, or gender. Menstruating women, for example, may need more iron, while men’s multis might include saw palmetto for the prostate. Of course, children may more easily take chewable or liquid options over a pill they need to swallow.
When you’re choosing a multivitamin, it can be helpful to look at the non-medicinal ingredients, as there are a number you are best to avoid, including titanium dioxide (used to make the colour of the supplement brighter), hydrogenated oil (it’s not healthy in your food, so why take it in your health supplement), and artificial colours (FD&C Red 40, Blue 2, and Yellow 5) and flavours.
Another thing I look for in a quality multi is the type of vitamin E that’s used. Check the brackets next to the listing of vitamin E and put it back on the shelf if there’s a “dl” at the start of the description, e.g., dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate. This is the synthetic, cheaper, and less effective version of vitamin E. Look instead for d-alpha-tocopherol. If this natural vitamin E were used, perhaps they wouldn’t need to include so many chemical preservatives, as vitamin E is a natural preservative. You might even find some supplements that offer d-alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols and tocotrienols, a more complete version of vitamin E. Want to go a step further? Look for the calcium and magnesium to be citrate or chelate instead of oxide forms. Fancier versions may use calcium microcrystalline hydroxyapatite and magnesium glycinate or bisglycinate. There are a ton of other signs, but you’ve got a good starting point now.
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin.” It’s produced when your skin is exposed to the sun, and is found naturally in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring, cod, halibut, and tuna. Some foods like milk and milk alternatives, cheese, and orange juice are sometimes fortified with vitamin D. And, did you know that mushrooms can also be a rich source of vitamin D?
Vitamin D is known to have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D has long been recognized for its ability to maintain strong bones and teeth by helping with calcium absorption in the body.
Vitamin D also plays a role in muscle function, immune health, and hormone production. Many people don’t get enough vitamin D from food or sun exposure, so supplements are recommended for many children and adults.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that help support healthy digestive and immune systems. They can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso. But if you’re not eating enough of those foods (or any at all), then taking a supplement is a good idea.
Getting enough of these beneficial bacteria can help your body defend against bad bacteria, lower the risk and severity of diarrhea, reduce constipation and bloating, lessen the likelihood and severity of skin disorders and allergies, and even support good mental health. Probiotics can be important supplements for the entire family.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are fats that your body cannot produce, so you need to get them from your diet. The most important EFAs are omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish like sardines and salmon, nuts like walnuts and hazelnuts, and seeds like chia and flax.
A healthy balance of EFAs is important for everyone. For children, their brains are developing quickly and omega-3s are key. Pregnant women are often also recommended to ensure they have enough omega-3s in their diet to support the developing brain and other organs of their child. Because a foundational issue with many health issues is chronic inflammation, having supplements like omega-3s decrease inflammation is helpful.
If your family doesn’t get enough omega-3 essential fatty acids in their diet, you may want to consider taking a supplement.
More than just an immune system booster, reishi mushroom is packed with antioxidants that reduce oxidative damage in the body and compounds called triterpenoids that help reduce inflammation and promote healthy functioning of the liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular system.
It’s main use in Traditional Chinese Medicine is to calm the nervous system. It’s an incredible adaptogen, helping the body to deal with stressors, both physical and emotional. As such, it can help with sleep issues and mood imbalances. And, while it is calming, it is not sedating. It is, in fact, a powerful Qi (energy) tonic, so if you need more energy but don’t want a stimulant, reishi is a great option.
As if that wasn’t enough, though the polysaccharide compounds like beta glucans in reishi can enhance a strong immune system response when needed, they can also moderate an overactive immune system that causes autoimmune disorders and allergies. Plus, reishi is safe for kids and adults of all ages!
If you’re looking for a quality supplement for the entire family, it is hard to go wrong with reishi mushrooms, but some mushroom supplements are better than others. In order to ensure you get both the polysaccharides as well as the triterpenoids, make sure you get the fruiting body of reishi, and that the powder inside tastes bitter (that’s the triterpenoids). For ease of taking, you’ll also want to find one that is a high concentration extract.
The best supplements are those that deliver benefits in the areas your family needs it most. Whether you are looking to maintain optimal health or provide an added level of support in an area where your diet is lacking, you can find a supplement out there that will fit the bill.