First off, HI, HELLO! How are you doing? It’s been 3 months since my last blog post! I’ve been prioritizing and driving my energy into other areas of my life where it is needed the most lately, so the blog has been at a bit of a hault. I’m so happy to be writing this post today because blogging is such a fun, creative outlet for me to share things in the wellness world I am passionate about— I truly miss sharing with you guys over here so much!
Studying takes up a lot of my time lately, it’s definitely where my energy and focus is needed most. I’ve come to accept it instead of fighting it. I know all my fellow students out there understand that it’s a hard thing to accept. Completing a Bachelor of Science Major is NO JOKE, but I am also loving every minute of it, with many melt downs in between, but it’s all good.
Enough about that, let’s get into today’s post! If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have come across my posts on how important I feel it is to gain your nutrients from a variety of nutrient-rich food sources. I briefly talk about it here + here. I believe supplements have a time and place— during stressful times, if you’re nutrient deficient, if you suffer with poor gut-health, if you’re on medications, if your sleep is lacking, during travel and different time zones, etc. That said, there are 3 staple supplements that I do think are important to consider taking on the daily as these specific nutrients [according to science] can be challenging to consume through food in adequate, quality amounts for optimal health.
1. OMEGA-3’s: Omega-6 and omega-3, also referred to as polyunsaturated fats or PUFA’s, are considered essential nutrients— meaning the body cannot produce them on its own. Therefore, these specific nutrients need to be consumed through an adequate amount of quality food sources, or supplementation, in order for the body to function optimally.
Research has demonstrated the importance of increasing the omega-3 fatty acid content of the average American diet (source), however, it is important to consume polyunsaturated fatty acids in the right balance. Omega-6 [pro-inflammatory] and omega-3 [anti-inflammatory] ratio should “ideally” be somewhere around 1:1, however, the typical American diet is higher in omega-6 fatty acids, which has evolved over time from 1:1 all the way up to 20:1 and even higher (source). This is concerning because excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids contributes to ailments like inflammation in the body and oxidative stress, which in turn can lead to numerous chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, and diabetes to name a few (source).
Why does this imbalance happen? It is actually quite easy to consume excessive amounts of omega-6 PUFA’s in the average American diet as these fatty acids are found in animal products that are typically consumed in higher amounts such as meat, poultry, eggs, as well as plant based foods such as nuts and seeds. This is why taking an omega-3 supplement is important— it helps optimize overall health by maintaining a balanced omega ratio.
Omega-3 food sources include wild salmon, mackrel, tuna, grass-fed beef, flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. However, omega-3’s are primarily found in the seafood sources. Unless you are an individual who consumes a high amount of omega-3 rich food sources, in other words, unless you eat a lot of high-quality fish then an omega-3 supplement might be something you want to consider adding to your diet to help keep inflammation at bay and help support your overall health.
My go-to omega-3 supplement is Sealicious Ultra Omega-3 Supplement sourced from the purest and most sustainable anchovies and sardines in a natural lemon-flavored softgel. It’s a high-quality omega-3 with no fishy taste! I also love that this supplement in particular also contains 1000IU of vitamin D3 [more bang for your buck].
My go-to omega-3 food sources are leafy greens, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp hearts, and wild salmon. Greens, chia, flax, and hemp hearts are all ingredients that are super easy to blend into healthy delicious smoothie for some omega-3 nutrition! I like to keep these ingredients stocked in the fridge as they are realistic omega-3 food sources that I consume on daily, compared to seafood sources [like wild salmon]. This is why I also supplement with omega-3’s to make sure I’m reaching a balanced omega ratio to support my best health as I am not an individual who consumes seafood on the daily.
2. PROBIOTICS: Eating a variety of probiotic-rich foods that contain live cultures [sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso] is important for promoting a healthy environment for our gut microbiome. However, it can be challenging to obtain a healthy amount of probiotics through diet alone, which is why taking a high-quality probiotic supplement daily is important.
As most of you might already know, a healthy gut microbiome is crucial for promoting overall health— immune health, brain health, bowel health, weight management, regulating sleep, and a whole lot more. In addition, more recent research has unravelled the beneficial effects of probiotics as a therapeutic solution for anxiety and depression (source). According to a 2018 article from NCBI, “The microbiome has received increasing attention over the last 15 years. Although gut microbes have been explored for several decades, investigations of the role of microorganisms that reside in the human gut has attracted much attention beyond classical infectious diseases.”
The gut contains trillions of both good and bad bacteria for your health. Probiotics are the “good guys” that help maintain a balance with the bacteria and yeast that already exists in your digestive tract. Probiotics travel through the colon and communicate with a number of different nutrients and cells [i.e. cells from the immune system] to promote your health by protecting your gut barrier and regulating digestion.
It is so easy for our gut to become compromised due to environmental factors, poor diet, sugar, antibiotics, stress, travel, and lack of sleep. A compromised gut can lead to ailments such as inflammation in the body, anxiety, depression (source), along with immune dysregulation (source). Moral of the story, probiotics are so important for maintaining a healthy balance in our microbiome so we can feel our best!
Note: Always consider probiotics that are backed by research, Genestra, Bio K Plus, and AOR are all companies I trust who have their probiotics clinically backed by researched. Consult with a Registered Dietitian or your Doctor to see which probiotic is best suited for you as there are a number of different strains.
3. VITAMIN D: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble “vitamin” — technically a hormone produced from a reaction with UV light — that is challenging to consume in adequate amounts as it is present in very few food sources. Unless you live under the sun year-round and are getting enough sunlight exposure [i.e. 20 to 30 minutes a day, arms and legs out, no sunscreen, which I wouldn’t recommend] then you definitely would want to consider a vitamin D supplement. I live in Vancouver where it’s basically dark and grey for most of the year, except for maybe 4 months. Most of us live in northern latitudes where the amount of sunlight is limited year-round, and those who do have exposure to sunlight year-round likely spend a lot of time indoors or with sunscreen on when outside.
Vitamin D is an important hormone that promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone (source). Essentially, vitamin D helps promote healthy strong bones. In addition, vitamin D is important for the immune system! Immune cells [B cells, T cells, and antigen presenting cells to be exact] express a vitamin D receptor which makes them capable of altering the innate [born with] and adaptive [acquired] immune responses. Therefore, deficiency in vitamin D has been associated with an increase in autoimmune disorders and higher susceptibility to infections (source).
As I mentioned, food sources of vitamin D are not plentiful, which is why a lot of food products, like dairy and eggs, are fortified with vitamin D. Solid sources of vitamin D include wild salmon or liver, however, it’s unlikely you are consuming salmon and liver daily in the amounts necessary for adequate vitamin D levels. In addition, another challenge with getting sufficient vitamin D is absorption and age— people with darker skin will produce less vitamin D [melanin reduces the skins ability to make vitamin D from sunlight exposure], and an older person is going to create less vitamin D than a younger person.
Note: Consult with a Registered Dietitian or your Doctor to find out what amount of vitamin D is appropriate for you. AOR Health, MegaFood Canada, and Garden of Life Canada are companies I trust who make vitamin D3 supplements. As I mentioned above, the omega-3 supplement I take also contains 1000IU of vitamin D3!
Thank you for reading today’s post, I hope you enjoyed! Do you already take any of the three supplements I mentioned above? Did you learn anything new about any of them? Comment below and let me know! I am not sure how consistent I will be on the blog over my next semester, but I will continue to blog whenever time allows it and always bring you wellness-driven content. Be sure to let me know if there are ever any topics in particular that interest you that you would like me to cover. Cheers!