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What Vitamins Should I Take If I’m Just Starting Out?

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The pandemic may have been the most rattling event of modern history, but there are some aspects of it that have a silver lining: People across the globe began taking a closer look at their health—and nowhere is this more apparent than in the vitamin and supplement industry. Indeed, sales of vitamins and supplements began soaring in 2020; now, more than 60 percent of people worldwide are part of the supplementers’ club.

Woman Examining Tablets Near Laptop Wondering What Vitamins Should I Take

For an excellent reason, too: While nothing beats an active lifestyle and a well-rounded, whole-foods-first diet, vitamins and supplements have the potential to fill nutritional holes and target certain aspects of well-being, ultimately leaving you with greater vitality. From glossier hair and more lustrous skin to enhanced energy and reduced stress, the possibilities of the right vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements organically encourage enriched wellness, period.

And yet, if you’re new to supplementing, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer surplus of information available. Where should you start, and how can you select the best products for your concerns and desires?

Glad you asked.

Since I’m new to supplementing, what’s my first step?

Schedule a doctor’s appointment.

Your foray into the wonderful world of vitamins and supplements ought to start with an evaluation with your healthcare provider, preferably one who is knowledgeable about supplements like a licensed naturopath, who can give you the green light—or the red—on the supplements you’re eyeing. A postmenopausal woman, for example, seldom has the need for iron supplements, while a pregnant or breastfeeding mother requires additional folic acid.

In case you’re curious: It isn’t always necessary to conduct a blood test before starting a supplement, but it’s also a wise way to measure where you stand and if you have any deficiencies that need to be corrected. Your doctor can initiate and conduct this process.

Conduct your research.

It may be tempting to purchase the first bottle of vites you see on sale, and yet quality is key when it comes to supplements. Ensure the brand you choose has a solid reputation and quality testing protocols, as well as a no-tolerance policy for sugar, artificial coloring and binders and fillers such as talc. (Off-putting, right?) You may also want to guarantee they’ve received the USP seal of approval.

Determine what you’re after.

Are you keen on finding more enthusiasm for your super busy days? Or are you aiming to take the necessary precautions against deteriorating bone health? Make a list of your worries and goals rather than going in to supplementing blindly.

The best supplements to start weaving into your routine

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the leading supplements for your brain and body—and how you can double-up your supplementing efforts by making a few revamps to your diet.

Cognitive performance

Why you need to protect it: Your mind’s speed, flexibility and clarity are paramount to wellness—without a healthy-functioning brain, all other attempts at wellness won’t just fall short: They’ll be nearly impossible.

From recalling your Apple password to having the capacity to learn new skills—and from the power to regulate your emotions to balance well—the status of your brain is inextricably involved in all of your body functions. In other words? If you’re new to supplementing, finding the right enhancements for brain health should soar to the top of your list.

The vitamins and supplements that support it: Omega-3 fatty acids naturally support cognitive health primarily through organically promoting optimal blood flow and supporting the synthesis of new neurotransmitters—chemical messengers that regulate everything from mood to metabolism.

Meanwhile, choline, which acts as the precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, also supports circulation and cell communication—which is critical to making sure the brain and body operate optimally.

Other vitamins and supplements that back brain health include vitamin D, vitamin B-6 and ginkgo biloba.

…and excellent dietary sources. Fatty fish, such as tuna and striped bass, are a surefire way to boost your omega-3s, while eggs are a superb source of choline and vitamin D. Other first-rate brain foods to add to your shopping cart include blueberries, walnuts, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, avocado and olive oil.

Immune function

Why you need to protect it: Those skyrocketing sales we mentioned earlier? They were largely the result of a collective move to bolster immunity—your first and strongest defense against infections and illnesses.

Comprised of your innate immune system, which you were born with, and your adaptive (or acquired) immune system, which develops over time in response to exposure to microbes, these two work in conjunction with each other to ward off viruses and unfriendly bacteria; and, if weakened, open you up to a host of complications, from an inability to stomach stress to feeling chronically fatigued.

The vitamins and supplements that support it. Think of keeping a cold at bay and vitamin C likely comes to mind—and for a good reason: Vitamin C naturally supports immune health while also buoying the soundness of your skin and bones.

Elderberry is also a chief contender when it comes to immune system-supporting supplements. Used for centuries for seasonal wellness, research demonstrates that the flavonoid-rich herbal supplement may support immunity in a variety of ways.

Runners-up include zinc, astragalus and curcumin.

…and excellent dietary sources. Citrus fruits are jam-packed with vitamin C, as well as trusty green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale. A number of herbs also cultivate immune health, including garlic, ginger, basil, sage and that splendid addition to warm beverages, cinnamon.

Sleep hygiene

Why you need to protect it. A rising body of evidence reveals that sleep is far from a luxury; in fact, experts across the board agree that sleep is one of the most critical components of a healthy lifestyle. Skimp on it here and there and you’re bound to see the immediate effects such as poor concentration and increased irritability—minor disturbances that fade once you resume your sleep schedule. Continually lose out on quality sleep, however, and you may place yourself at risk for several grave complications, from mental health issues and obesity to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

And yet, even if you know that sleep deprivation negatively affects every system in the body, it doesn’t always arrive with ease, does it? Hormonal imbalances, heightened stress levels, alcohol intake, that mid-day shot of espresso you savored earlier, scrolling through TikTok before you hit the hay—all can take a toll on your ability to receive the rest you need.

The vitamins and supplements that support it. Magnesium has been dubbed the mighty mineral for countless reasons—or, rather, for more than 300 reasons, as that’s how many biochemical reactions it regulates. With its ability to organically foster calm, it can be a boon for those whose minds hit high speeds the second they lay down.

For more unique reasons—such as jet lag, pulling a couple of all-nighters as you strove to make a deadline, or shift work—consider melatonin. This valuable supplement doesn’t just naturally facilitate sleepiness; it also encourages deeper, more refreshing slumber.

Other finalists for improved sleep include valerian root, ashwagandha, B-complex vitamins and L-theanine.

…and excellent dietary sources. Pure, tart cherry juice, pistachios, fish and kidney beans are a few terrific means to get melatonin in your diet, while dark chocolate, nuts, and legumes brim with magnesium. Or, if you’re suffering from insomnia, create the ultimate midnight snack: Oatmeal crowned with strawberries, a sliced banana and milk. All are rich in melatonin and potassium—a mineral that nurtures serenity and restoration.

Beauty health

Why you need to protect it. Brittle nails, lackluster skin, thin hair, yellowish eyes—we may bemoan the sight of such things but your concern with them should extend beyond aesthetics. Oftentimes, cloudy eyes, dull skin and fragile hair and nails are signs that something is amiss in your body, whether it’s chronic stress, not eating enough antioxidant-filled foods, dieting to the point of detriment, an inactive or overactive thyroid, or failing to get adequate, genuinely rejuvenating rest.

To phrase it differently, your external appearance is frequently a reflection of how well you’re treating your body as a whole. Significant but simple lifestyle changes, like consistent, mood-boosting exercise (read: workouts that provoke happiness), a diet flourishing with lean protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, minimal stress and strong social connections have a direct affect on your radiance. In addition to that…

The vitamins and supplements that support it. Vitamin E is manna from the skin gods. Not only does it naturally support moisture retention, but it also encourages collagen production—which is necessary for thwarting, or amending, fine lines and wrinkles. What’s more, vitamin E helps quench free radicals, thereby reducing the effects of oxidative stress. Some studies also show that vitamin E can reduce the signs of dark spots—a telltale sign that your skin hasn’t been given the TLC it deserves.

Additionally, vitamin A does double-duty, organically nourishing vision health while also giving limp locks the nutrients they need to thrive (and glisten).

…and excellent dietary sources. Craving sugar? Beware: The sweet stuff causes glycation—a process in which sugars bind to proteins and lipids in your skin, particularly collagen, resulting in dryness and creasing. To satisfy your hankerings, reach for a piece of fruit: oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, grapes, kiwis and berries encourage plumper, smoother skin. Ditto for a bevy of veggies, including dark, leafy greens, bell peppers and sweet potatoes. Pile all on a salad and top with fish, a sprinkling of sunflower seeds, avocado and olive oil: These eats offer a wealth of skin-saving nutrients, including selenium, zinc and vitamin E (to say nothing of their satiating properties).

Overall Vitality

Why you need to protect it. Vivacity is at the heart of every decision you make in regards to your health—not to mention the choices you arrive at surrounding your career, relationships, and personal passions like creative endeavors and sports. If you feel well, you do well, live well, and love well—and nutrients play a much more substantial role in this than you may think, not only helping you maintain the wellbeing of major organs, like your skin structure and heart, but also repairing your tissues and (literally) providing you the energy you require to carry out mental and physical functions.

The best vitamins and supplements that support it. In a word: Multivitamins. Superior multivitamins, such as Vitacost Synergy Advanced Multivitamin, are equipped with a range of essential nutrients, including vitamins A, C, D, E and K, as well as thiamine, biotin, manganese and niacin. Crafted to help shield cells from free radical damage while encouraging neurological and cardiovascular health, they’re an all-in-one nutritious powerhouse made specifically to facilitate liveliness.

…and excellent dietary sources. Superfoods—or nutrient-dense eats—may seem trendy, but several are timeless in terms of the wellness they can offer you. Create a breakfast bowl with probiotic-rich yogurt and folate-heavy raspberries, sip green tea, snack on raw almonds and pecans, and dine on a slice of wild salmon over arugula. These foods, in the end, are the best supplements out there.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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