It seems like every other week, a new supplement is on the market, claiming to reverse aging, make your hair and nails grow longer or help you lose weight. So what's the deal with these supplements anyway?
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For the most part, your healthy diet should provide you with the majority of your nutritional needs — both macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) and micronutrients (iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, C, D, E and K, just to name a few).
Best Food Sources of Vitamins and Minerals
It's much easier for your body to digest food sources of these nutrients than taking them in pill form. So here are your best bets when it comes to eating your micronutrients.
- Vitamin A: carrots, pumpkins, spinach, magoes, sweet potatoes
- Vitamin B-12: meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, fortified soymilk and cereals
- Vitamin C: citrus fruits, potatoes, broccoli, bell pepper, spinach
- Vitamin D: fatty fish and fortified milk and cereal
- Vitamin E: green, leafy vegetables and whole grains and nuts
- Vitamin K: eggs, milk, spinach, broccoli, kale
- Iron: red meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, green vegetables, fortified bread
- Calcium: yogurt cheese, milk, salmon, leafy vegetables
- Magnesium: spinach, broccoli, legumes, seeds, whole-wheat bread
Which Supplements Should You Add?
Sometimes you need a little help filling in any nutrient gaps. Luckily, there are vitamins, minerals and supplements to help you when you need it.
The supplements section in your pharmacy or grocery store shouldn't freak you out — provided you know what to consider and what to avoid. Just be forewarned, just because something is a supplement, doesn't mean it's healthy or that you need it. And if a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
To get you started, here's a sampling of the best supplements:
- Omega-3 fats help lower cholesterol and may positively impact learning and brain health as well as reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Glutamine is an amino acid that supports digestive health and may help strengthen the immune system.
- Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10) supports heart health, reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Probiotics boost the immune system and promote intestinal health.
- Vitamin D reduces inflammation, promotes bone health and boosts immunity — and the majority of Americans aren't getting enough.
When shopping for supplements, keep in mind that they aren't as strictly regulated as regular food, so it's vital that you scrutinize the labels. Any product worth your money should be certified by a trusted third party, such as the United States Pharmacopeia or NSF International.
Look for the approval symbol from either of these when supplement shopping. As with any supplement, you'll want to check with your doctor first before taking because they can interact with different medications.
Figure Out Your Supplement Needs
Track your micronutrients in the LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Calorie Tracker —available on desktop and for iOS and Android devices — so you'll know how supplements impact your health and what vitamins or minerals you might need.
We want you to be well — and well-informed — so you can be smart about your supplements, maximize your transformation and get the results you desire.
How to Join the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge
1. Download the MyPlate App
Documenting your food and activity might seem like overkill, but it’s not. People who track their calories and physical activities enjoy greater success losing weight and keeping it off for good!
Tracking everything honestly is essential to making the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge work for you. Sometimes you’re not even aware of everything you consume, but once you start tracking it, you’ll think twice before you make poor choices. And that’s a good thing.
- Daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and snacks
- Exercise and activity
- BMI (Body Mass Index)
2. Print Out Your Daily Calendar
Isn't it so satisfying to check things off of your to-do list? Each day during the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge, you're accountable for five key steps: tracking breakfast, lunch and dinner; tracking your water intake; and either walking or running.
We created a helpful calendar to keep you on task for all 30 days. Print it out and check off each activity as soon as you complete it.
3. Stay Connected on Facebook
For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our Facebook Group for the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge. We'll share recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.
4. Read More on Which Supplements to Take
- The 12 Most Overrated Supplements
- Could You Be Micronutrient Deficient and Not Know It?
- Weird Signs You're Not Getting Enough Nutrients
- Keep Calm with These 10 Natural Herbs and Supplements
Readers — Are you joining us in the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge? If so, what's your weight-loss goal? Have you ever done a weight-loss challenge group before? How did it go for you? Have you joined our LIVESTRONG.COM Challenge Group on Facebook? Leave a comment below and let us know.