From time to time, I find myself part of a familiar conversation with people I meet in my travels, as well as my Park Avenue Center for Wellbeing patients and virtual coaching clients. That exchange often starts something like this: “Roberta, you’re always so healthy. How do you stay positive and energized and keep from getting sick?”
And I’m happy to share my “magic formula.” As you know, I’m a proponent of clean eating, keeping physically active, and adopting a balanced lifestyle. Then, too, nutritional supplements are part of that big wellness picture. Because even though we do all the right things, if particular physical conditions are at work—and even as a natural part of healthy aging—our bodies don’t always use the nutrients we receive through diet in the most efficient way. Supplementation can fill that gap.
A note of caution first: Please consult your doctor before adding any supplements, especially if you take any medications. That said, today I’m happy to share with you my updated list of what I think of as superstar supplements—the ones I don’t just recommend to clients but take myself.
Superstar #1: Turmeric
Have pain, discomfort, or inflammation? Turmeric wins the award for most popular and versatile spice. So much more than seasoning, turmeric has been used for health for centuries and now is being studied clinically as a possible booster for brain function, blood sugar and type 2 diabetes control, and the treatment or prevention of viral infection, high cholesterol, skin issues, and arthritis. More research is being conducted as we speak, but already this golden-colored, pungent-flavored spice is being praised for its results.
Definitely, look for ways to add turmeric to your meals. But as a supplement, I take the extract form, curcumin—the main active ingredient in turmeric. It’s best to take this alongside black pepper to help with absorption. Dosages range from 80-500 mg.
Superstar #2: MCT Oil
Goodbye to olive oil in salads! These days I’m using MCT oil—or medium chain triglyceride oil—instead. I simply mix MCT oil with apple cider vinegar for salad dressing because compared to olive oil, MCT oil offers many more fatty acid benefits, including weight loss and hunger control.
MCTs are absorbed by the body quickly, and they supply fast energy without relying on glucose to provide the carbohydrates. The result: This is a healthy fat that helps you lose body fat while serving as an energy source to enhance performance and mental clarity. And as if that weren’t enough, research is also being conducted on how MCT oil may help with cancer, seizures, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.
While I purchase a bottle of MCT oil by that name, you can get these benefits in traditional ingredients. too. MCTs are fatty acids that are naturally found in coconut and palm oil and ghee (clarified butter).
Superstar #3: Vitamin K
This somewhat unknown vitamin is often found with vitamin D3 for bone health and general wellness. However, it now appears that vitamin K is a major player in heart health and preventing heart disease, too. It has two forms: While K1 is essential for proper blood clotting, K2 helps to regulate the levels and location of calcium in the body. Low levels of K2 are associated with a buildup of plaque in the arteries, and studies have been conducted on how this vitamin works to reduce the elevated risk of heart disease that comes with plaque.
K1 is found in plant-based foods while K2 occurs in animal foods, such as cheese and egg yolks, as well as in fermented foods such as natto and kefir, and it’s best taken with fatty foods.
Superstar #4: N-acetyl cysteine (or NAC)
NAC is my new go-to supplement for liver detox and support, especially since I’m taking some acetaminophen for pain these days. Useful for a variety of conditions including mood and sleep disorders, bronchitis and COPD, and brain and immune issues, NAC is essential for replenishing glutathione, an antioxidant that helps to remove free radicals. That’s important because free radicals are known to cause damage at the cellular level.
NAC has other benefits under study, too. It might decrease insulin resistance, reduce pain and inflammation, and help with fertility—in short, it’s a real multitasking nutrient!
Six hundred (600) mg of NAC is a dosage sufficient for general health purposes, but you may need more to address specific health conditions. In all cases, please consult your physician because NAC can thin the blood and perhaps interfere with surgery.
Superstar #5: Vitamin B12
I had previously taken B12 out of my daily vitamin rotation and just added it back in. It’s here to stay! Not only does it help to make DNA and red blood cells, vitamin B12 is involved in every cell of the body, boosting mood, focus, and concentration by helping to convert glucose into energy.
Found in animal products such as dairy, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry, it is often deficient in vegetarians and may require supplementation. The daily dose is 2.4 mcg. A blood test quickly identifies whether you are deficient in B12. (I was.) Do ask your doctor for that test since it can also tell if you’ve taken enough.
Many of these supplements are readily available in good health-food/nutrition stores. Look for purity and precise ingredients from reputable manufacturers. Not finding what you need in the corner pharmacy? You can always order Metagenics nutritional supplements through my online store.
No, even the highest quality supplements can’t take the place of smart choices, including a varied, colorful, nutritious diet, plenty of water, regular exercise, and restorative sleep. But the right supplements certainly are a useful addition to your wellness toolbox, giving your body a powerful edge. However, if you have specific health challenges, give me a call at 212-686-0939. We’ll talk about supplements that can address your individual needs to ensure you keep putting your most vibrant, positive foot forward, with confidence!