We’ve all taken a stroll down the dietary supplement aisle at our local health food stores, and a good number of us have probably felt overwhelmed by the number of choices. It is easy to get discouraged and simply not purchase any of them. With the number of ads on television, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, it can be difficult to know who to trust and which vitamins are actually right for you. Influencers and celebrities are constantly endorsing new products, and it can be difficult to know what is trustworthy and what is a fad, and what might be a placebo. You might be asking yourself which vitamins should you be taking. Is it worth taking them at all? Do they actually work?
The answer is that they are absolutely worth taking, and they are helpful in certain aspects of our health. While they are not a cure-all, certain supplements can help keep your muscles, bones, and joints healthy and strong. Some can even help you recover from injuries like herniated discs. Especially as we age, it is essential to ensure that we are getting all the vitamins we need to help us stay healthy and active. The healthier your muscles and bones are, the more likely you are to have a better quality of life as you age. No one wants their body to slow down with age, and it is never a bad idea to start a regimen of supplements early on in life to make sure that you stay ahead of the game.
- Bromelain Enzyme
Bromelain is a chemical compound found in our delicious friend, the pineapple. Have you ever wondered why they serve pineapple at Brazillian steakhouses? As a digestive enzyme, bromelain helps your body break down proteins into amino acids, making it easier for your body to use and store for energy later on. In supplement form, it is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that it can help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis and other inflammation issues, such as post-surgery inflammation.
- Omega 3
Also known as fish oil, omega 3s are derived from the tissues of certain types of fish. While there are a few different types of omega 3s, the ones most commonly found in supplements are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These supplements are also anti-inflammatory, and might even assist in lowering blood pressure and supporting heart health. If you are vegan or vegetarian, there’s good news! There are also options for supplements derived from sources such as walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and other plant sources.
While calcium is vital for everyone, women especially need to ensure that they are getting enough. As women age, they are more prone to osteoporosis than men (though men can also be affected), which is a condition that causes the bones to become porous. This can lead to severe issues such as bone fractures and chronic pain. Calcium helps prevent this by strengthening the bones. However, it should be noted that our next supplement is also necessary to pair with calcium.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is the other half of the dynamic duo of calcium absorption. It is necessary for your body to absorb and make use of the calcium you take in. That’s why the dairy milk at the grocery store is fortified with it! A vitamin D deficiency can lead to soft bones in children, a condition known as rickets, and a similar condition in adults called osteomalacia which causes misshapen bones.
Magnesium functions similarly to vitamin D in that it supports the function of calcium and supports the structural development of bones. Since your skeleton is constantly rebuilding itself, it is important that we are always getting enough magnesium, calcium and vitamin D to ensure that our bones stay strong and healthy as we age.
Glucosamine is naturally found in cartilage, which is important for cushioning our joints as we move. Taking glucosamine supplements helps to strengthen our cartilage and rebuild bones. This in turn helps to prevent cartilage loss and osteoarthritis. If you suffer from arthritis, it may also be helpful for the inflammation that the condition causes.
- Protein Supplements
While supplements to support bones and joints are important, it is also important to remember that your muscles play an important role in your health. Your muscles support your bones and joints, and studies show that strong muscles can help prevent arthritis and osteoporosis. Aside from regular exercise, a protein supplement is extremely helpful for supporting your muscle health and structure. After exercise, protein is needed to help rebuild your muscles and make them stronger.
While these supplements are a great boost to a healthy diet and exercise plan, they are not a replacement for one. Remember that it is always better to get nutrients from your food if you are able, but if you have a restricted diet or find that you are not getting enough of something, supplements are a great way to add that missing piece back into your body. It can be easy to forget about the health of our bones, joints, and muscles with our busy schedules, but it is important that we are giving our bodies the building blocks they need to keep us going. If you have trouble remembering to take them, try setting a specific time and keeping yourself on a schedule. You can try to take them with breakfast, after your workout, or at bedtime, for example. If you find that you aren’t sure if you trust a certain supplement, don’t be shy about doing your own research. Find out what company produces it and what ingredients they use and what their claims are. In a perfect world, all companies would be truthful; however, it is up to us at the moment to be responsible consumers. Trust your gut if something feels off. As always, remember to speak to your doctor before starting a regimen of vitamins, as some of these can interact with existing conditions or prescriptions.