Ever wonder if taking supplements can boost more than just your general health? Yeah, us too. That’s why we asked the experts. And guess what? Some of the ways vitamins can help you are pretty surprising.
6 SURPRISING HEALTH BENEFITS OF SUPPLEMENTS
Vitamin D: For weight loss and lower blood sugar
Really? Yep, really. This vitamin, touted as the wonder vitamin in recent years because of its important role in bone health and mood, has some other cool benefits. Several large studies have shown that people who have too little of this fat-soluble vitamin have a harder time shedding pounds and controlling blood sugars than those in the normal range.
Who doesn’t have normal levels of D? Just about anyone who is not taking a vitamin D supplement.
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but many of us aren’t getting enough of this healthy vitamin due to sunscreen use, being indoors and living in more temperate climates, plus dietary sources of any significance are rare (namely liver and wild caught salmon). As with any vitamin, taking a proper amount is key and too much can also cause great harm.
Magnesium: To minimize migraines
It turns out this essential mineral, known for its role in helping build strong bones and muscles, also helps with migraine prevention. Those who suffer from frequent, debilitating headaches may find that taking magnesium, typically 300mg daily, helps reduce frequency and severity of this common health issue. Damn.
Iron: For hair growth.
We often equate iron with energy, which makes sense since this mineral is used to make energy and fuel enzymes. But there are many other important roles that iron plays in keeping us healthy.
Surprisingly, a deficiency in iron stores is one of the leading causes of thinning hair. The body seems to go into conservation mode when iron storage drops—a very common phenomenon in women of any age after years of periods and child bearing. The condition of your hair can often improve if iron is replaced, but be patient as it can take 3-6 months to see new growth.
Vitamin C: For arthritis.
Vitamin C has classically been associated with building a healthy immune system. Turns out, it may also be of use in easing the pain of and inflammation of arthritis.
Vitamin C has shown to be effective in helping with skin and cartilage growth, theoretically helping with join protection, too. As an antioxidant, it may play some anti-inflammatory role. Some studies have shown that those who consume less vitamin C are more likely to suffer from arthritis. That being said, high doses have not been shown to be more helpful then moderate doses, and overdoing it can cause gastrointestinal problems and kidney stones. Around 250-500mg daily via supplement is typically enough for your aching joints.
Fish oil: For improving memory and easing depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been popular for their role in heart health and cholesterol; however, that role is not as clear as it once was. Promising new research shows the key components of fish oil—EPA and DHA—may help improve memory and attention, and may fight inflammation. Further studies suggest that fish oil supplements may help ease symptoms of depression in some people, but more research is needed. Stay tuned as more data emerges on various uses for omega-3s.
Iodine: For energy.
Iodine is essential to help support your thyroid gland, which controls your metabolism. If your thyroid is low, you may lack energy, feel fatigued, be constipated and have trouble losing weight.
Almost 100 years ago, the U.S. government recognized that iodine deficiency was a widespread problem, leading to many people having low thyroid levels and developing goiter, a large growth on the neck. In response, the government requested that salt companies add iodine to table salt. Good move as long as we are using table salt. Today, in our effort to be more healthful, many of us do not use table salt regularly or we rely on Kosher and Sea Salt, which are not iodinated. Also, we are eating less processed foods, which serve as an iodine source.
Taking a supplement with modest amounts of iodine—150-200mgs daily—can avert this problem and allow your thyroid to function as it should. But be careful not to take too much iodine as that can also wreak havoc on your metabolism.
Arielle Miller Levitan and Romy Block are co-founders ofVous Vitamin, LLC and co-authors ofThe Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion about Vitamins and Your Health,