It’s tough to know what to believe when it comes to vitamins and supplements. Information regarding the benefits of these pop-able nutrients seems to change on the daily. Some say taking vitamins is a health-helper, while others say they are simply a waste of money. We’ll give you some of the basics about today’s top vitamins and supplements, then let you decide.
What are they? Probiotics are healthy bacteria — they are living microorganisms that help with digestion and keep a healthy gut.
What foods are they in? Probiotics are naturally found in yogurt, milk, fermented foods (like kombucha and sauerkraut), tempeh, soy, and miso.
Pros: Probiotics have a seriously positive effect on our digestive system. They balance out the harmful bacteria present in our bodies and boost our immune system.
Cons: There aren’t many cons, but taking these guys as a supplement or eating large quantities of probiotic-filled foods could result in intestinal gas or bloating for some people.
What is it? Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, but a hormone. Gasp.
What foods is it in? Vitamin D is naturally found in eggs and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel). It’s also often added to fortified foods, like milk and cereals. Note: the best source of Vitamin D is not food, though! The greatest increase in D levels comes when our skin is exposed to sunlight. One more reason to enjoy the summer sun, yes?
Pros: Vitamin D absorbs calcium and phosphorous from foods, two minerals that are important for increasing bone density. Stronger bones = better bones.
Cons: Vitamin D supplementation hasn’t been proven totally effective or necessary. There are certain groups that are more likely to lack sufficient D levels (such as elderly people and pregnant women), but Vitamin D supplementation is not yet universally encouraged.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What are they? Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that cannot be made by the body, which means we must consume them in order to retain the hefty health benefits they provide.
What foods are they in? Omega-3s are naturally found in flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts, and fatty fish, as well as some of our green faves–think kale, spinach, and Brussels sprouts. Oh my.
Pros: Omega-3s are not fats to be feared. Rather, they provide our bodies with some serious pluses; research shows that the fatty acids can reduce our triglyceride and blood pressure levels, and lower our risk of arthritis, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Sounds good to us.
Cons: This healthy substance needs to be consumed in major moderation — taking in too much of these healthy fats could have the opposite effect and actually raise your risk of the very conditions it helps fight against when consumed in small portions or doses. A handful of walnuts a day is all it takes!