There's no one-size-fits-all supplement plan. Every path and phase of life has its own challenges. Find the perfect plan for you with these four customized approaches.
1. The New Parent.
Baby in the house? That means restless nights, unbalanced routines, lack of exercise, and hasty meals. Here's your solution (breastfeeding moms, always check with your doctor first):
- Sleep deep. "Get it when you can" is the rule for sleep. That means it must be restful and solid. Good choices for dads and non-nursing moms: passionflower, kava kava, and melatonin can help you sleep deeply, usually without causing grogginess the next day. Essential oils of lavender, bergamot, sandalwood, frankincense, and mandarin have also been shown to induce sleep. Breastfeeding moms: chamomile, lemon balm, and hops in teas or tinctures are gentle and generally considered safe.
- Get jitter-free energy. Because sleep is likely to be meager and scattered, you'll need more energy during the day. Choose supportive adaptogenic herbs: Ashwagandha, rhodiola, and eleuthero (sometimes called Siberian ginseng, though it’s unrelated to Asian and American ginseng) help balance stress hormones and restore energy, naturally. Or look for combo formulas that contain choline, B complex, malic acid, and a spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
- Bolster immunity. It’s especially critical if your baby's in day care, where germs abound. Probiotics are at the top of the list; they protect against infection, support overall immunity, and reduce inflammation, and can prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections. And taking vitamin C daily can reduce the number of colds and respiratory
infections you get, and shorten their duration.
- Balance nutrition. Sporadic, unbalanced meals can mean gaps in nutrition, so fortify yourself with food-based multivitamins and minerals. A good daily is especially important for new moms; some studies suggest daily vitamin and mineral supplementation can reduce the risk of postnatal depression. Look for one that also includes supportive herbs like adaptogens and digestive enzymes, or choose a specifically formulated post-natal blend.
- Kava kava
- Chamomile tea
- Adaptogenic herbs
- Vitamin C
- Digestive enzymes
- Post-natal multivitamin
New Chapter Perfect Postnatal Multivitamin
2. The Busy Executive.
Up before dawn, burning the midnight oil, no time for breakfast—or lunch. You know the routine. If that’s you, do this:
- Relieve stress. Choose supplements and herbs that soothe stress, while keeping you alert. B-vitamins, critical for the production of serotonin and other calming neurotransmitters, are rapidly depleted by stress; take a B-complex daily to replenish your supply. Lemon balm has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, while increasing alertness and improving memory. L-theanine, a compound that naturally occurs in green tea, reduces anxiety, depression, and stress, while enhancing relaxation and improving concentration, learning and attention.
- Support digestion. Eating in a hurry, unbalanced meals, and overall stress take a toll on digestion. Look for enzyme blends that also contain probiotics to boost digestion and soothe your gut. If you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux, choose an acid-relief formula that contains calcium, aloe vera, or other calming compounds. Or choose d-limonene, a compound found in lemon and other citrus fruits; studies show it can reduce or eliminate heartburn.
- Regain focus. Too many irons in the fire mean you're easily distracted, often overwhelmed. Try herbs like bacopa, gotu kola, or tulsi, or formulas that contain phosphatidylserine (PS), phosphatidylcholine (PC), vinpocetine, or acetyl-L-carnitine; they’ve been shown to improve memory, concentration, and focus. Also: keep a bottle of rosemary essential oil in your desk; it contains a compound called 8-cineole that can boost alertness with just a whiff.
- Balance weight. Stress and lack of sleep can upset cortisol levels, which can lead to weight gain. Balance your cortisol levels with adaptogenic herbs that also relieve tension and restore adrenal health. Best choice: rhodiola, which promotes weight loss as well as relieves fatigue and balances sleep patterns. Other good adaptogens include ginseng, holy basil, shwagandha, astragalus, licorice, and cordyceps, a mushroom-like fungus that has adaptogenic properties. Look for single supplements or combination formulas. And take chlorella, a blue-green algae related to spirulina that helps to reduce body fat while also lowering cholesterol, balancing blood sugar, and supporting immune function.
- B-vitamin complex
- Lemon balm
- Herbs including bacopa, gotu kola, or tulsi
- Brain health formula with phosphatidylserine (PS), phosphatidylcholine (PC), vinpocetine, and/or acetyl-L-carnitine
- Rosemary essential oil
- Adaptogenic herbs
Sun Chlorella Sun Chlorella 200 mg
3. Healthy Senior.
You've worked hard to stay fit, but the inexorable march of time hasn't passed you by. Support your body as it ages, with these supplements customized for seniors:
- Strengthen bones. As you age, the risk of osteoporosis increases, so keep bones strong with calcium in absorbable forms. But calcium requires the help of other vitamins, and studies even suggest that taking calcium alone can double the risk of heart attack by leading to calcification of the arteries. Vitamin K helps keep calcium out of the bloodstream, where it can deposit on artery walls, and also significantly lowers the risk of fractures. In one review, vitamin K reduced fractures by as much as 81 percent. Other support nutrients include vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, strontium, and manganese; look for combination formulas that include the correct proportions of each.
- Baby your belly. As the muscles in the digestive tract become less efficient with time, fiber supplements can keep you regular, and can also normalize cholesterol levels. Look for whole-food supplements made with chia, flax, and other seeds; they’re rich in protein and omega-3 fats as an added benefit. Probiotics help prevent bloating, gas, indigestion, and constipation; choose products with B. longum BB-536 and B. infantis, which also support immunity and reduce inflammation.
- Keep your ticker strong. Support your heart, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood vessels with fish oil; the majority of studies show they lower triglycerides and reduce the risk of coronary disease and overall mortality. Garlic supplements can slow the buildup of arterial plaque, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of blood clots. Beta-sitosterol, a natural plant compound, reduces age-related increases in LDL cholesterol and decreases arterial inflammation, and bergamot extract, which has been shown to help lower bad cholesterol while preserving levels of the good kind.
- Ease arthritis. Topicals can ease the pain of arthritis and stiff joints even better than supplements, since they bypass the digestive system. Look for gels and creams with capsaicin, a compound in chile peppers that desensitizes nerve receptors and diminishes pain. For supplements, look for methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), derived from sulfur; it’s especially effective when combined with glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate.
- Calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, and manganese for bones
- Fiber such as flax and chia
- Garlic supplement
- Beta-sitosterol & bergamot
- Capsaicin cream
Wakunaga Kyolic Original Formula 100
4. Fitness Buff.
You crank out 10 miles or 500 reps before breakfast, and your overall diet rivals that of an Olympic athlete. Sound familiar (or inspiring)? Great! Now, support your goals, and your body, with these essentials:
- Build muscle. Concentrated sources of protein are crucial. Whey protein is best; studies show athletes improve performance and gain muscle mass from regular consumption of whey protein drinks or supplements; if you’re lactose intolerant, choose whey protein isolates, which have a greater percentage of pure protein and are virtually lactose-free. Glutamine helps slow the breakdown of muscle during intense exercise, and thus can increase endurance.
- Increase endurance. Give yourself an extra boost during long runs, lifts, or laps; creatine monohydrate, typically used for strength and speed, also decreases recovery time to boost endurance and keep you going longer and stronger. Caffeine supplements offer a quick boost in energy, and have been shown to delay fatigue and improve performance and speed. And beta-alanine can improve endurance performance by both delaying and reducing perception of fatigue.
- Reduce inflammation. All that running and jumping means your joints and muscles are taking a toll. To reduce inflammation, try turmeric; it’s rich in curcumin, a compound that inhibits inflammation and blocks the production of prostaglandins, hormones in the body associated with pain. Ginger is another anti-inflammatory that, like curcumin, blocks prostaglandin production. Bromelain, an enzyme naturally found in pineapple, reduces swelling and relaxes inflamed muscles and connective tissue. Take between meals for best results.
- Whey protein powder
The Vitamin Shoppe True Athlete Natural Whey Protein, Chocolate
These products can all be found in The Vitamin Shoppe stores, or on vitaminshoppe.com