Essential Supplements to Keep You Healthy

Good nutrition is the basis of any healthy lifestyle. Our bodies need the right balance of vitamins and minerals to stay in good working order. But how can we maintain that balance in a world where a proper diet has become nearly impossible?

According to Dr. Todd Overdorf of Solutions Integrative Health Care in Mount Pleasant, the answer is supplements.

"Every person on our planet needs to be taking some sort of dietary supplement. The nutrients that were in our soil 150 years ago aren’t there anymore. They're not in our food anymore. We have to get them from outside sources," he said.

With so many vitamins out there, it can be hard to know which ones are useful and which ones aren't. Dr. Overdorf tries to simplify things. He said that if he could recommend only three supplements, they'd be omega-3 oils, vitamin B complex and herbal adaptogens. These three supplements, taken together, can drastically enhance your body's health. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as just going to the store and picking up a box of each.

supplements and vitamins graphic

"Omega-3 is great for any acute or chronic inflammation," Dr. Overdorf said. "Head injuries, concussions, mood disorders, depression – things like that. But most of your omega-3s are fish oil based. That's a problem. Think of all the pollution we dump into our waterways, including petrochemicals and mercury. It borders on criminal. Most fish oil comes from fish that spend their whole lives in that environment. They're contaminated. If you get fish oil from your classic big box store, you're going to be putting those contaminants in your system."

Dr. Overdorf recommends getting your omega-3 from flax seed oil or black currant seed oil instead, or, if you’re dead set on fish oil, getting it from smaller fish such as sardines or mackerel. If the box doesn't specify where the fish oil comes from, it's most likely coming from a larger fish like tuna or swordfish, common carriers of pollutants.

To increase your energy level, Dr. Overdorf suggests getting more vitamin B complex in your diet.

"The food sources rich in vitamin B complex are generally going to be your whole grains. The problem is that most of those whole grains are refined, which creates an inflammatory reaction. The question becomes: Do you eat food that creates inflammation just to get the vitamin B complex? I would say no. That's why you have to have a good quality vitamin B complex supplement. I, myself, take one every day," he said.

Vitamin B complex is crucial for energy production since it aids our bodies in converting digested food into fuel. Without it, food would pass through our systems without being properly absorbed.

Davon Gilliard, owner of Can’t Stop Training and a certified strength, conditioning and fitness coach, said that one of the most important aspects of supplementation is when to take it.

“Are you taking it at the right time?” Gilliard asked. “And are you using the right supplements for what you need help with? People need to research to make sure they are taking the right supplement for themselves. They need to understand what it is doing to their bodies and do the research to find out the health benefits and possible contraindications.”

As for balancing everything out, you can't go wrong by adding adaptogens to your supplement regimen. An adaptogen is exactly what it sounds like – it helps your body adapt to its environment. In other words, it helps your body deal with stress.

"I personally recommend herbal adaptogens like ashwagandha," Dr. Overdorf said. "It levels you out. If you're fatigued, it can bring your energy up. If you're wound up, it can help slow things down a bit."

“Taking the correct supplements at the right time of day chooses the balance and course of how you pursue your day,” Gilliard said.

The point is, if you don't feel 100 percent, there are ways to improve your overall health. Dr. Overdorf wants to make this clear.

"No matter what you've been diagnosed with – whether it's some sort of heart disease, whether it's cancer, whether it's diabetes, whether it's dementia, whether it's anything — if you have a spine and you're breathing, there's hope for you to heal. You just have to keep searching."