A varied diet that features lots of whole, fresh foods can give you the nutrition you need, but should you be using a supplement as well? Read on for recommendations from top nutritionists and dietitians to see if supplements are right for you.
Don't make supplements a substitute: Before you reach for a supplement, evaluate your diet to see how you can improve it. "Whole foods contain dozens and dozens of nutrients, including not just vitamins and minerals, but also antioxidants and phytochemicals, which would be impossible to fully replace with supplements," says Cynthia Sass, registered dietitian and author of S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim. Focus on eliminating processed foods and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat in order to get the most out of your food. "Eat the rainbow" with these colorful, antioxidant-rich recipes.
Multivitamins can work: "Even the healthiest eater can struggle to get in every vitamin and mineral needed each and every day," says registered dietitian Erin Palinski. She recommends a multivitamin to help ensure you are filling in holes in your diet. If you take a multivitamin, however, make sure you choose a "high-quality, whole-food-based multivitamin/multimineral," says Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist and author of The Beauty Detox Solution.
Get specific: Besides a multivitamin, certain supplements can target specific holes in your diet to suit you better. Supplements like probiotics, for example, can be useful to "help ensure you are absorbing your nutrients most effectively," Kimberly says. Nutritionist and Karma Chow founder Melissa Costello recommends supplements containing B complex, iron, and vitamin D3 because those may still be missing in your food or your body may not be able to absorb all nutrients. "Most of us have poor digestion so we cannot fully absorb all the nutrients from our foods and our soils have been so depleted that the nutrients are not as present in foods today," she explains.
Do you take supplements? Which ones do you recommend?