Whether you are trying to ward off wrinkles, put the shine back in your locks, add a glow to your skin or simply keep people guessing about your real age, there are a handful of supplements that I recommend for optimal health, regardless of your specific goals.
1. Omega-3 Fish Oils: Healthy oils are necessary in the formation of every cell membrane in the body. Eicosapentaenoic acid EPA and docosahexaenoic acid DHA (the components of essential fatty acids) are natural anti-inflammatory agents. Their anti- inflammatory properties makes them useful in treating and preventing heart disease and they also have beneficial effects on cholesterol, triglycerides and blood clotting. Essential fatty acids help to moisten the skin and improve bowel function. Since fish oils increase serotonin levels (the happy neurotransmitter), it can decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and may even reduce carbohydrate cravings. For optimal benefits, I recommend 2000 to 3000mg (2 to 3 capsules) twice daily with meals.
2. Turmeric: Turmeric (also called curcumin) is one of my personal favourites because it naturally reduces inflammation and protects the brain from aging. In one clinical trial, participants who consumed 1200mg of cucuminoids (the antioxidant pigment found in turmeric) for two weeks found reduced morning stiffness and joint swelling caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Interesting to note is that rates of breast cancer are extremely low in cultures that consume a lot of curry, which is a rich source of curcumin. Dosages range from 500mg to 2000mg daily. The anti-inflammatory benefits are most enhanced when taken without food. If you experience heartburn or related digestive discomfort, however, take the curcumin capsules with food.
3. Resveratrol: Resveratrol, has been shown to prolong life in yeast and animals because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The antioxidant polyphenols found in the skins and seeds of grapes aid heart health, inhibit inflammation and help prevent the development of certain cancers. According to a joint study by the National Institute on Aging and Harvard Medical School, this compound may improve the body’s anti-aging response, and in turn quality of life. In the study, mice fed on a high calorie, high fat diet while taking resveratrol were able to avert the high levels of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream, which are warning signs of diabetes. Even more striking, the substance sharply extended the mice’s lifetime. Before you reach for a few too many glasses of red wine, however, keep in mind that it only has about 1.5 to 3 milligrams of resveratrol per litre. So the average person would need to drink almost 20 glasses to get the dose they need to reap the benefits. Instead, choose to take 1 to 2 capsules per day of a high quality resveratrol supplement first thing in the morning before breakfast. My favourite source is Resveratrol Extra from Pure Encapsulations.
4. CLA: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has been found to help glucose tolerance by improving the body’s response to insulin. Studies have also found that CLA is one of only a few products that help reduce body fat, particularly around the abdomen. Scientists believe that it has a variety of anti-cancer, anti-cholesterol and anti-diabetic properties. In fact, CLA is one of only a few supplements proven to reduce body fat and assist in increasing lean muscle mass without a change in caloric intake. These powerful effects are due to its insulin-sensitizing properties. However, not all CLA is the same. Seek out high quality supplements that use a specific isomer of CLA, trans-11, cis-9 linolenic acid, which may be helpful in reducing body fat, shrinking fat cells and making them stay that way. The minimum dosage is 1,500 mg twice daily with food for at least 3 months.
5. Acidophilis: Probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus are friendly bacteria that live in our digestive tract. Healthy bacterial balance in our digestive tract is easily affected by poor dietary habits and by the use of medications such as birth control pills, corticosteroids and antibiotics. Researchers at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) have found that probiotics can inhibit the spread and growth of harmful bacteria that cause infections that lead to many disorders. In one study from the University of Maryland Medical Center, a probiotic mix of acidophilus and bifidus helped individuals suffering from traveler’s diarrhea, a common illness affecting travelers. Acidophilus has also been found useful in the treatment and prevention of skin conditions and allergies. Take 1 to 2 pills upon waking, on an empty stomach for best results.