Hey Janice, what supplements should I take?
I get asked this question all the time by curious friends and acquintances. I want to start off by saying that this is not a post to suggest that you use any of the supplements or brands that I use. Instead this is simply a list of the supplements *I* use, and why *I’m* using them. This is not sponsored in any way, and none of the products I use have been sent to me by brands asking me to take them or to review them. This is a straight up list of products I have personally chosen for myself to use on a regular basis. There may be other supplements I should probably take, or better products and brands, so I would love for you to critique my choices – feedback is feedback and I can’t improve without it, hence the real reason behind this post. For example, if you know of a more natural supplement that provides the same function as one I’m taking, then feel free to share with me in the comments.
First things first, I’m anemic. Angela has recently written a great post about her battles with anemia, and my story is quite similar. As a result I take a liquid iron supplement called Hubner Iron Vital F.
When my iron levels are where they’re supposed to be I have more energy, I can concentrate and focus so much better, I sleep better, and I’m a much faster runner. The iron that binds to your red blood cells allows oxygen to bind to them, and then the red blood cells can deliver that oxygen to your working muscles (and to your brain). Basically having adequate iron levels is very important for both sport performance and overall health.
The second product I take is a chewable (tastes like cherry) vitamin B12 supplement from Swiss Natural. Disclosure: a few years ago I was a Swiss Natural Ambassador, though this was not a product that was reviewed through that ambassadorship.
Vitamin B12 is important for the formation of red blood cells. Without red blood cells, the iron and oxygen have nothing to bind too. I take this for both sport performance, and overall health.
CALCIUM AND D3
The third product I take is a chewable chocolate flavoured calcium and D3 supplement. Made by Jamieson, this was also not a product that was reviewed by the ambassadorship that I mentioned above.
When I was 25 I suffered from two different stress fractures in the same year. The year was 1999 and back then they casted you for stress fractures, it is my understanding that thankfully they no longer do this, instead they now put you in a removable air or walking cast.
Because 25 is fairly young to be experiencing stress fractures I was sent for a bone density test. The result was that my bone density was low. Although being active increases bone density, if you are nutritionally deficient in calcium and vitamin D, your bones can become weaker not stronger from weight bearing activities, and thus stress fractures occur. Calcium plays an important role in the normal functioning of nerves, cells, muscle and bone. If there is not enough calcium in your blood your body will take the calcium from your bones. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium. I am also Caucasian, of a northern European descent (my ancestral roots are from the Netherlands and England) and I live in a northern climate – all are risk factors for osteoporosis. I’ve been taking calcium and D3 in one form or another ever since my bone density tests.
I take Omega 3 in the form of ground chia that I add to my protein smoothies and to my greek yogurt. My preferred brand is PRANA because I can conveniently purchase it from the grocery store across the street from my work.
The human body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, we have to get them from our diet. Research is currently being done to see if omega-3 fats play a role in lowering the risk of cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. I suffered from post-partum depression when my two oldest daughters were younger and started taking omega 3 as part of fighting this illness naturally. The other way I fight it is with healthy eating (as much unprocessed food as I can), and exercise. I’ve chosen ground chia because I hate pills (ie: fish oil pills), and because the omega 3’s are more absorbable from ground chia than from whole chia seeds. I’m not sure if Omega 3 is a passing fad or not, so I continue to add chia to my smoothies and greek yogurt as a preventative measure.
When it comes to a protein supplement, I prefer to take a vegan protein powder derived from a variety of plants that also has no artificial sweeteners or flavouring, this is why my preferred protein supplement is Progressive Harmonized Vegan Protein.
According to MyFitnessPal, protein is the macronutrient I have the hardest time getting enough of from my normal day to day food choices. With the amount of running, swimming, biking and strength training I do, I break down a lot of muscle. Because muscle is made up of the 13 essential amino acids that is found in protein, and because I’m not a huge meat or lentil eater, I have a protein smoothie for breakfast to help provide the amino acids that I need to rebuild muscle. If protein powder isn’t your thing, here’s a great article about cheap protein sources.
While I do eat fruits, veggies and meat from a variety of sources, I feel that the supplements I take are warranted for the reasons I’ve listed above. I do realise that I unfortunately need to cut back on my caffeine intake because apparently that interferes with the absorption of many vitamins and minerals. Boo. (I love my black coffee). I also have to admit that as an active person interested in bettering my endurance for Ironman 70.3 Muskoka I hope that some of my supplement choices will help with those goals J You might have noticed that none of the supplements I take are in pill form – I hate pills so I just don’t take them.
What supplements do you take and why?
Are there any other supplements not listed above that you would recommend that I take?