It’s a cliche because it’s true: For many moms, taking care of others often trumps taking care of themselves. And for health, especially, this can be problematic.
The irony here is that when you feel better, you’re better able to address stress and responsibility. But few parents have time to enjoy a leisurely nutritious breakfast or double-check their meal plans to make sure they’re getting enough of certain vitamins and other nutrients. So what’s the answer? Supplements.
If you’re new to healthy living, you’re probably wondering if you should even bother taking supplements. What’s the point, after all?
The answer to this question depends on your answer to another. Does every day work out the way you’ve planned it when it comes to your health and nutrition?
If you answered yes, that’s great! You’re getting enough nutrients from your meals that you likely don’t need base nutritional support from supplements. You might, though, need them for other reasons, like therapeutic use (as prescribed by your doctor or nutritionist) or targeting nutrients that your diet doesn’t deliver.
If that question made you laugh in disbelief, then you would likely benefit from daily supplements to help fill some of the nutritional gaps in your diet. Life happens, and we don’t always get perfect nutrition.
Once you’ve decided to go the supplement route, how do you know which ones to take? Before you start shopping for supplements, you’ll want to take a moment to consider where you are in your life.
It’s good to explore this once or twice a year. Don’t put off that doctor’s appointment, get your lab tests done, and ideally keep a few days of a food journal so you can take a moment to assess any patterns. You can discuss your findings with your doctor or a dietitian.
This will help you know if there are actual deficiencies or imbalances that supplementation can help address as well as those that go along with any changes in your life, like getting pregnant or changing your diet.
Next, you’ll want to consider the standards you use in choosing your foods. Whether it’s avoiding artificial colors, sweeteners, and chemical isolates, or shopping for GMO-free foods, this should be the standard you apply to any supplements you choose.
Lastly, make sure you pick a supplement you will actually take.Supplements that just sit in a cupboard or drawer do nothing for your health. So if something makes you nauseous or doesn’t seem to digest well, skip it. If it says to take three times a day, be realistic—is that going to happen?
Without further ado, here are a few supplements I recommend for daily nutritional support.
Though historically called a multi-vitamin, I say multi here because getting daily mineral support is just as important as daily vitamin support.
Pay attention to your stage of life here. A prenatal can be a perfect option for the years before a pregnancy—with the added bonus of helping support healthy hair, skin, and nails. For the years after menstruation stops, consider a multi without a significant source of iron.
These healthy fats—found in foods like wild fish, walnuts, hemp, and chia seeds—are great for the whole body. Consider supplementing your daily intake with wild salmon fish oil, hempseed or flaxseed oil, or algal blends.
Stress, anxiety and other aspects of our modern lifestyles can make our digestion less than optimal. To keep things moving, try supplemental nutrients like magnesium, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and symbiotics.
There are also specialty nutrients that are more difficult to get from food. I recommend looking into Vitamin D3 and Coq10, in addition to specialty supplements tailored to bone support, detoxification, and inflammation.
Use these recommendations as a road map to make decisions about your personal supplement regimen. Of course, then there’s the question of which brands and products to choose. This is a huge undertaking, but I have taken a step to make it simpler. On the Personal Shopper section of my website, I’ve evaluated a ton of products—more than 50,000 to date!—to assess what I think are the best choices out there.
Illustration by Karley Koenig
Ashley Koff is an internationally-renowned registered dietitian who believes better nutrition is simple and is on a mission to help anyone achieve their personal health goals by providing simple but highly effective tips and strategies. A self-described “Qualitarian,” Koff emphasizes the value of quality nutritional choices in achieving optimal health and has developed tools such as The Better Nutrition, Simplified Plan and The AKA Personal Shopper to help facilitate this. Koff is widely sought after for her knowledge and ability to translate nutrition science into practical and motivating messages and appears regularly in the National Media, has authored two books and speaks frequently on the topic of better quality choices for better health. Koff began her nutrition career as a practitioner and continues to maintain a high-profile, international nutrition practice providing personalized nutrition recommendations with an integrative nutrition approach. She’s a member of several Scientific Advisory boards and serves on the faculty of the Continuum Center for Health and Healing at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Koff was educated at both Duke and New York Universities and trained at LA+USC and Columbus Children’s hospitals. Visit her site at www.ashleykoffapproved.com/.
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