I’ve written about this before (I think), but I really cannot stress how important and how much I love these 3. Forget what the multi-billion dollar (!!!) supplement industry tells you, I feel strongly enough to say that these are the only 3 supplements you actually need (provided you are an otherwise healthy individual). They are highly affordable, and their claims are backed by honest to goodness scientific research.
1. Fish Oil (Omega-3 fatty acids) - I’ve heard plenty of daily recommendation amounts. My favorite suggestion (and probably most correct), backed up by good friend Mike Nelson, is “enough to make your nose bleed”. Ok, yeah, that’s a lot, but what it really means is, “you probably can’t take enough, so dump as much as you can stand down your throat.” Wait, I’m sorry; that’s a bit exaggerated too. Start with a couple tablespoons or a couple grams (if it’s in pill form) per day and see how you feel. Make adjustments as you need.
The benefits of Omega-3′s are too numerous to mention. In fact, there are researches that spend their careers looking at this. In general, the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids may improve your cardiovascular health, prevent certain types of cancer, and help reduce a slew of mental health disorders such as depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
2. Vitamin D3 – This boy-wonder also works miracles. I’ve heard stories of people taking up to 50,000 IU’s per day. (WHAT?!?!) While I’m pretty sure that’s an extreme case, and none of us should probably be taking that much, I think we all could use a little more D3 in our lives. Vitamin D is naturally produced in our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight (and artificial UV rays like tanning beds to some extent), but a lot of us live in geographical regions (or work in jobs) which require us to cover up. I know it doesn’t seem like getting 20 min. of unadulterated, pure, sunny goodness per day is hard, but for me, living in MN, I’m about as pale as a ghost most months out of the year.
The benefits of D3 include cancer prevention, helps us hold on to bone density, bossts our immune system, and again, cardiovascular health. That’s kind of a big deal in a country where there are more obese people than skinny people and heart disease is so high.
3. Vitamin B complex – Of these 3 supplements, this one probably has the least amount of scientific backing. Yes, it is a vitamin complex, and we all need a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals, but the claims they make are loosely supported by scientific evidence. I will not make the same claim as the other two, that most people are probably defficient, but I will get to my overall liking of this vitamin in a bit.
For now, let’s look at the benefits Vitamin B claims. Manufacturers claim that it will allow more efficient processing of your foods (suck more nutrients out of them during digestion), better hair and skin, increase sexy looking muscle tone (*shutter*), and boost your immune and nervous systems.
If these are true (to some degree), I would like to get more use out of the food I’m eating. I would like to keep my toned muscles (that made me feel dirty), and I like healthy nervous systems. Healthy nervous systems allow for better muscle activation. True story.
I have read enough research and done enough experimenting myself to say that the Top 2 are required by everyone to some degree. The 3rd? Not so much. That’s up for you to decide. Let me tell you about the experiments I have ran using these 3 supplements. I haven’t gone so far as to take only one type at a time. I have only taken all 3 of them together, at the same time. However, each time, I get very very similar results.
When I stop taking these supplements, I do feel the effects of depression, most notably in the afternoon during the weekdays (when I’m trapped in a cube farm at a job I despise). I grow quiet; I don’t joke around with the co-workers I actually do like; and the work I’m doing just aggitates the living hell out of me. It is literally almost too unbearable to sit in my desk. I also turn to food more and more for a chemical intervention in trying to resolve the slight emo’ness. For the sake of the experiment, I endure this for 2-3 weeks at a time.
Once I feel like I have fully proven that I am not a happy individual, I decide to cycle these 3 supplements back into my diet. On the very first day I take them (during lunch), my mood changes. I still hate my job, yes, but I can now joke about committing suicide rather than actually thinking about doing it. I’m still very annoyed at the work I’m doing, but at least I can just laugh at it and be like, “lololololol….ahhhhh f*ck it; bring it on.” I also tend to eat less for lunch and stay fuller, longer. Today I ate what would normally (when not taking the supplements) be an appetizer (for me) as my entire lunch. I was full right up until supper….5 hours later. I usually do this for 1-2 weeks just to make sure that I’m not having an unordinarily good day (or full week). As soon as I stop taking them, BOOM. Right back to Emo Dave.
I have run this experiment 3 times, and each time the results are repeatable. For now, since all of those supplements are relatively cheap, I will continue taking them as I do. If I want to refine my intake, I can easily start eliminating them one at a time until I find that I only need one of them, some combination of the three, or perhaps still need all 3 of them but in different quantities.
What?!?! No protein?!?!?!
Sorry, Dude Brahs, I get most of my protein through real food. I suggest you take the money you spend on protein supplements and invest it in more/real protein sources. I still keep a tub of it around for when I accidentally eat a vegetarian meal, but I prefer real food.
So there you have it. My Top 3 Favorite supplements: cheap, backed by science, and proven to myself. I suggest you start experimenting with your own supplements and see what you really need versus what you read on the label.