When it comes to health and wellness, athletes shouldn’t get to have all the fun. Whether we run actual marathons or endure marathon weeks at work, cheer for our favorite teams, or strive to win our own medals, one thing is the same for us all — optimal health is a real game changer.
Whole-body wellness goals take mindful effort to achieve, and we can all aim for better health with a balance of activity, stress management, quality sleep and proper nutrition. Read on to learn about some of our favorite nutritional supplement game-changers for health.
Probiotics & Prebiotics
Your gut has instincts, sure, but do you know what else it has? Tons of bacteria (both helpful and harmful) and that bacterial balance has a huge impact on your overall wellness. Over 70% of your immune system is in your digestive tract! This is where probiotics and prebiotics come in. They’re like your gut’s starting lineup, helping keep your microbiome balanced so the home team wins. Here’s the scoop of probiotics and prebiotics to support gut health:
You’ve probably heard of probiotics, but here’s a quick overview — probiotics are the 'friendly,' bacteria and yeasts in your digestive tract. Probiotics is an umbrella term since there are a lot of different strains of probiotics and each one supports your health in a different way. Eating a healthy diet high in fiber and rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, grains and nuts — without processed foods and refined sugars — contributes to positive gut flora. Your diet, plus taking probiotic supplements to help cover gaps, can help your system stay balanced and support healthy digestion to help your body absorb the nutrients it needs from the foods you eat.
Prebiotics are types of soluble fiber that help feed the good bacteria in your gut. By nourishing the healthy bacteria, you encourage a healthier gut microbiome. Experts also say prebiotics may help increase calcium absorption, 1 protect against digestive disturbances, and support overall health.
Read the article Trust Your Gut Health: Build a Healthier Gut with Probiotics to learn more about probiotics and prebiotics.
Vitamin C & Vitamin D
Nutrients work best as a team, and you need a balance of all the vitamins of the alphabet to stay healthy, but vitamin C and vitamin D deserve some special attention. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant to help protect your cells from free radicals and oxidative stress. Vitamin C supports immune health, collagen formation, boosts your ability to absorb nonheme iron,2 supports recovery and plenty more.
Vitamin D is the only alphabet vitamin that the FDA has labeled as a nutrient of public health concern.3 Our bodies produce vitamin D naturally after sun exposure, but when you don’t spend time outdoors (like during winter months), or if you wear sunscreen, you may become deficient. This is why vitamin D is known as the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorous, which in turn supports bone, muscle and teeth health, plus helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. And if you don’t get enough vitamin D you may notice a change in your mood, among other health concerns.4
Help your body build up a strong defense by getting your daily vitamin C and vitamin D, and read Amazing Alphabet Vitamins: The Six Vitamins You Need to Know to see what else the alphabet vitamins can do for your health!
Omega Fatty Acids & Coenzyme Q10
Fat might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about healthy foods or game-changing supplements for your health, but some fats are actually good for you. Omega-3 essential fatty acids play a role in healthy brain function and support heart health.5 And omega-6 fatty acids may help promote the health of your skin, hair, bones, metabolism and even your reproductive health.6
Experts note a healthy diet should include a balance of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.6 You can get essential fatty acids from foods like salmon, albacore tuna, olive oil, grass-fed beef, whole grains, and even some fresh fruits and vegetables. Essential fatty acid supplements like Swanson Health’s High Concentrate Omega-3, MultiOmega 3-6-9 supplement and Plant-Based Omega-3 can help you meet your essential fatty acid needs as well. Read Be Fat Fluent: Best Fatty Foods for Your Diet to learn more about healthy fats and how you can add them to your diet.
Some of the same foods that contain healthy omega fatty acids also contain small amounts of the vital coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10. This vitamin-like nutrient is needed for cellular energy production and the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).7 It’s also an antioxidant that helps protect your body from oxidative stress. Your body produces some CoQ10 on its own, but as you age it may not produce as much.7 CoQ10 supplements may help support the health of your heart, muscles and nervous system.7 Also, since CoQ10 is involved in energy production, it may even help support physical performance.8 Read more about CoQ10 Benefits.
Real Foods & Real Food Supplements
When it comes to nourishing your body and keeping energy levels up, your first line of defense should be nutrients from real food sources. Skip processed foods as often as you can and choose fresh, power-packed options instead like vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish and healthy legumes. Eating real foods will give your body the cleanest-burning fuel possible to help you power through workdays and workouts alike.
While most experts agree that your diet is one of the most important factors in your overall health,9 we know it isn’t always possible to get all the nutrients you need from your food alone. Fill in nutritional gaps with real food supplements, like Swanson Health’s Real Food Multivitamin, which is chock-full of vitamins and minerals derived from real food sources like quinoa and natto, plus herbs to help minimize stress and give your body an antioxidant boost.
Real foods are certainly trendy right now, but we think they are here to stay. For more on the real foods and real food supplements, read Real Food: A Revival or a Revolution.
Melatonin & Magnesium
No matter how focused and determined you are to reach your goals, both in fitness and in life, you can’t forget about rest and relaxation. People who don’t get enough sleep tend to be more accident prone, less productive, more irritable, and may have more health concerns.10 If you have trouble getting enough quality sleep, natural sleep supplements like melatonin or magnesium may help you get the restful sleep your body needs to perform at its best.
Melatonin is a hormone our bodies produce naturally to help us maintain regular sleep and wake cycles.11 But sometimes we can still get off track. According to researchers, some people who struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep may not produce enough natural melatonin,12 and melatonin supplements may be useful to help encourage restful sleep. Check out the post How Much Melatonin Should You Take? to learn more.
Magnesium might also help you sleep better at night. This macro-mineral may help relieve stress, muscle tension and anxiousness to help promote relaxation13 It supports healthy GABA receptors and may help regulate stress hormones.14 And since magnesium is also vital to cellular energy production, you might find yourself with more energy throughout the day. Magnesium provides many other health benefits, too. You can learn about them in the article Magnesium Benefits and Uses.
Optimal Health is a Long Game
There are no quick-fixes when it comes to health and wellness, but every decision you make about the foods you eat, supplements you take, and activities you embrace is an opportunity to establish healthy habits that can benefit your long-term health and vitality.
So, whether you are on the slopes or watching from sidelines, everyone can benefit from these game-changer nutrition and supplement tips for optimal health. Keep an eye on the Swanson Health blog for more nutritional tips and fresh takes on health and wellness topics, or sign up below for our emails and get new articles delivered to your inbox.
You might also like reading: Inspire Wellness: Six Tips for Staying Motivated and Energize Your Mind & Body: Eight Tips for How to Get More Energy.
If you’re considering an essential fatty acid supplement, read Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil: Which Has More Benefits.
About Shane Durkee
Chief Innovation Officer, Swanson Health
Shane has over 20 years of consumer products research and development experience in leading teams in innovation, product development and medical science. He is passionate about improving people’s lives through the latest technologies and scientific research in wellness and health. As a city dweller, he likes to walk everywhere rather than drive and fits in a split regimen between weight training and cardiovascular exercise to keep boredom at bay.
1 Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355/ (Accessed 2/6/2018)
2 Myth vs. Reality on Anti-Aging Vitamins: WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/myth-vs-reality-on-anti-aging-vitamins#2 (Accessed 11/29/2017)
3 Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed 11/29/2017)
4 5 Signs You're Not Getting Enough Vitamin D: Prevention. https://www.prevention.com/health/symptoms-of-vitamin-d-deficiency (Accessed 11/29/2017)
5 Omega-3 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical Center. https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids
6 Omega-6 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical Center. https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega6-fatty-acids
7 Coenzyme Q10. Oregon State University Micronutrient Information Center. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/coenzyme-Q10
8 Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed 11/29/2017)
9 D.L. Katz and S. Meller Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health? Annual Review of Public Health 2014 35:1, 83-103 http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182351 (Accessed 12/19/2017)
10 How is the body affected by sleep deprivation? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sleep/conditioninfo/sleep-deprivation(Accessed 02/06/2018)
11 Melatonin. University of Maryland Medical Center. https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/melatonin (Accessed 01/19/2018)
12 Neurobiology, Pathophysiology, and Treatment of Melatonin Deficiency and Dysfunction. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354573/ (Accessed 01/19/2018)
13 Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201106/magnesium-and-the-brain-the-original-chill-pill (Accessed 1/11/2018)
14 Plasma aldosterone, cortisol and electrolyte concentrations in physical exercise after magnesium supplementation: PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6527092 (Accessed 12/07/2017)