“Supplements” is a polarizing topic today, with opinions ranging from “love ‘em, give me more,” to “what a bunch of snake oil, and thus waste of money.” While I’m not on the “love ‘em, give me more” bandwagon, it’s fair to say that I take more supplements on a daily basis than the average person.
Another fair assessment: I’ve fiddled around with supplements over the years more than most people, always in hope of improving my health. For me, “improving my health” has not been about finding more speed or power in the pool. Rather, I simply want to feel better. Such as reduce chronic allergy and asthma symptoms. Or find relief from the horrendous pre-hysterectomy issues I faced. Or reduce the frequency of bugs I catch each year (also higher than within the average person.)
While I would love to enjoy optimal health without taking anything, I realize that my current situation—hard training, limited diet, immune issues, high stress, and as with everyone else, aging—means my body needs extra help.
And, I’ve learned from my most recent restriction (I had to stop taking everything two weeks prior to surgery), that the supplements I take do make a difference. Therefore, akin to peeking into others’ shopping carts, today I’m sharing what supplements I take and why:
Fish Oil: New Chapter’s Wholemega, 1000mg 1/day. Fish oil is on every expert’s “top three supplements for adults” list. I get some of my omegas from flaxseed (lovingly ground onto my daily breakfast salad), but I don’t eat fish. While I’m unsure of my exact heart health status (although it seems better than “good” every time anything heart-related is checked), it’s nice to know that omegas are also highly recommended for endurance athletes.
Probiotics: Lucky Vitamins 35 Billion shelf stable formula, 1/day. My digestive system has been a weak link from day one, a common issue among premie babies (I was 4-5 weeks early—surprise!) and I have a lot of food allergies and sensitivities. As I keep hearing that gut health is related to overall health, this summer I started taking probiotics (due to lactose intolerance, yogurt is a no-go for me.) I noticed a major, helpful shift within the first 24 hours—now I’m tracking how often I get sick this year…
Essential Enzymes: Source Naturals, 500mg 1/day. Again, I don’t digest food well. A lot of food in my tummy at the end of the day means acid reflux. I don’t want to go back to treating that—I’ve stayed off Nexium for 12+ years now. Enzymes help me avoid those issues, and to counter the “but you’re taking pills to avoid taking pills” argument, with fewer side effects.
Multivitamin: Alive! Women’s 50+ 1/day. I like to try different formulas, but so far I keep coming back to the Alive! line as it seems to best support my body for the lowest price. I’m aware that recent reports claim multivitamins offer nothing, but I believe that with my limited diet and heavy training, my body can’t get everything it needs from food alone. When I’ve tested it by going off vitamins for a few weeks, I end up feeling draggy and promptly catch a cold.
DIM-plus: Nature’s Way, two capsules/day. Diindolylmethane is an estrogen metabolism aid. While my run-away-train estrogen issues were greatly reduced after the hysterectomy, I’m still chugging towards menopause, and at the moment, I still have more estrogen than testosterone, a typical perimenopause pattern. Testosterone tells a woman’s body to stop producing estrogen each month. Without this trigger, or a sluggish one, women over-produce estrogen. For me, that means irrational irritability, difficulty sleeping, insatiable appetite, breast tenderness and constipation. DIM helps tremendously, but I’m looking forward to going off of it once I’m menopausal.
Melatonin: Now, 3mg 1/evening. As I age, getting to sleep and staying asleep, has become a problem (we can again point the finger at those fluctuating hormones, yay.) I’ve found that melatonin does promote sleep—I actually get to the dream/REM stage!
Currently, I take the above supplements about 20 minutes before dinner. This timing maximizes digestion (I have the most food in my stomach each day by this point) and sleep. Also, I like to think that sleep=prime recovery & rebuilding time, so surely the extra punch of nutrients is best put to work at the end of the day.
I buy all of my supplements from LuckyVitamin.com. They offer the best prices, free shipping on orders over $50, and they always include a variety of high quality, free samples in each box, making it fun to open each shipment.
Changing conditions, aging, and different eating and training patterns means my body never achieves “optimal stasis.” Therefore, I’m sure the above list will be tweaked in the coming years. Good thing I love to try new things and then track and report results!
Next Week: End of Summer 2015 Season Crash