Vitamins, supplements and superfoods, oh my!

Supplements

To supplement or not to supplement…that is the question.

Americans spend almost $12 billion each year on vitamins and supplements, but the jury’s still out on whether or not that money is well-spent.

One one hand, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force studied the effects of vitamins, minerals and supplements, and concluded that for most, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the pills can lower risk of heart disease or cancer.

But on the flip side, reliable resources — such as the Harvard School of Public Health, for example — say that taking a multivitamin is an effective nutrition insurance policy because it helps us fill in the gaps of a regular diet, which may not always supply the body with recommended levels of daily nutritional requirements.

vitamins

Personally, I’m pro-supplement (this article covers some of my reasoning) — although that doesn’t mean you can live on a diet of Skittles and Cheetos and expect your daily vitamin to work miracles. Rather, I view it as a way to enhance an otherwise-healthy lifestyle and help give your body a little extra “oomph” when it’s under stress or attack.

I’ve gotten some questions about my regimen, so I wanted to share a few of my current favorites, which helped get me through marathon training feeling strong and with minimal sickness (despite a rigorous training, work and personal schedule, which all tend to zap the body’s resources):

– Multivitamin: Not only is New Chapter’s Perfect Immune a whole-food, non-GMO vitamin, but it also aids the body’s natural defenses and is gentle enough to be taken on an empty stomach.

– Vitamin C: Finest Natural’s Vitamin C includes rose hips, a natural source of the vitamin, which protects the body’s cells from potential oxidative damage and supports the immune system.

– Iron: Low dietary intake of iron may be the most common nutritional deficiency for serious endurance athletes, especially women, so I like Nature’s Bounty Gentle Iron for combating chronic fatigue and other symptoms I’ve previously experienced.

– Probiotics: A happy belly makes for a healthy body, and New Chapter’s Probiotic All-Flora is a non-dairy way to ingest nine live probiotic (good bacteria) strains delivered in whole-food media, plus prebiotic fiber to help promote digestive system wellness.

– Turmeric: Referred to as the “Queen of Spices,” turmeric’s not just for cooking; New Chapter’s Turmeric Force has also been billed as a natural way to reduce inflammation, prevent cancer, improve digestion, detoxify the system, and much more.

– Others: Two other supplements (not pictured) that were an integral part of my marathon training were Bluebonnet Liquid Calcium and Energybits to keep my bones strong and ensure I got my daily dose of greens, respectively.

Source: Smartypants

Source: Smartypants

It’s also good to switch things up intermittently, so my guilty pleasure is SmartyPants Gummy Vitamins in place of my usual multivitamin; not only are they like candy, but they’re also an easy option for days when I’m on-the-go and don’t want to swallow a whole set of pills.

Of course, the best way to give your body nutrients is to get them naturally by eating a healthy and balanced diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. But if you’re in the midst of a tough training cycle, supplements are a nice way to boost your body’s ability to push hard, recover and reach for the next level.

How do you ensure your body gets all the vitamins and nutrients it needs during training?

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