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Consider These Supplements for Better Health and Wellness

Taking these daily nutritional supplements and vitamins can improve your overall health and wellness, defeating dietary deficiencies and helping fighting illness and disease.

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

Looking to be healthier? Hoping to improve your overall wellness? Wanting to strengthen your body's immune system? Striving to lower your cholesterol? Desiring to enhance your dieting efforts in your battle to lose weight? Interested in defeating dietary deficiencies? Seeking to improve your muscle mass and advance your athletic performance?

Regardless of your reasons, studies continue to show the value of nutritional supplements in improving overall health and wellness, fighting age-related illnesses, and increasing athletic performance. When your body is deficient of vitamins, minerals, or amino acids, it becomes more susceptible to a variety of diseases, fat build up, and medical malfunctions.

So, what types of nutritional supplements should you take? Here's a list -- for both adult men and women -- of the most important supplements to help improve your health. Remember to seek the advice of your doctor before you start any kind of diet, exercise, or vitamin and supplement regimen.

The Six Most Important Dietary Supplements

Multivitamin: While medical experts contend that people who are following government nutritional guidelines for eating consume all the vitamins they need, the reality is that most people do not follow the dietary guidelines -- and thus should consider a daily multivitamin. Multivitamins prevent deficiencies in one or more of the 13 essential vitamins (A, C, D, E, K, B12, and the 7 B-complex vitamins) and minerals (such as magnesium, zinc, iodine, selenium, potassium, calcium, copper, and chromium) people need for healthy living. Some multivitamins are formulated for specific age groups and genders, as well as for individual conditions, such as pregnancy.

Fish Oil/Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Some call fish oils (from fish like mackerel, trout, halibut, tuna, salmon, cod, and others) the wonder supplement because of the many health benefits. Fish oil helps lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and blood pressure, while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and immunity levels while also assisting in weight loss. Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent the buildup of fatty deposits on artery walls and break up blood clots that can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Fish oils also help prevent and relieve inflammation -- helping deal with painful conditions like arthritis -- while also reducing the chances of all forms of cancer (including breast, colon, and prostate). Finally, omega-3 fatty acids are said to improve memory, recall, reasoning, and focus while fighting off the symptoms of depression and other mental disorders. Seek out fish oils that have a combination of the three major types of omega-3 fatty acids, including: ALA, DHA, and EPA. Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be produced in the body and must be obtained from food and/or supplements.

Tonalin CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid): While studies continue on this essential fatty acid, its main selling feature has been as a fat-burning tool to help with weight loss and maintaining lean muscle. However, additional evidence points to many potential benefits to users of this powerful antioxidant, in addition to enhancing and improving the immune system, lowering total and LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels, reducing fat and building muscle mass, fighting some cancers, improving glucose utilization, and helping prevent the buildup of fatty deposits on artery walls. While CLA can be found naturally in dairy products, the levels are usually not nearly enough for the average person.

Flaxseed Oil: Rich in essential fatty acids, this highly touted supplement provides users with many health benefits, from assisting with the cardiovascular and immune systems to helping fight inflammation and making it easier for the body to burn off fat. Because flaxseed oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, it offers many of the same benefits as fish oils. In addition to the essential fatty acids, though, flax seed oil also contains a group of chemical compounds called lignans, which act as antioxidants and may play a role in the prevention of cancer, including breast, colon, prostate, and perhaps skin cancer. For men, flaxseed oil may help prevent swelling and inflammation of the prostate. Besides flax seed oil supplements, you can also buy both flaxseed oil and actual flaxseeds in health food stores.

Evening Primrose Oil: Like flaxseed, the seeds of this plant contain oil that is rich in essential fatty acids -- especially highly concentrated amounts of GLA -- offering multiple health benefits, but especially providing anti-inflammatory properties to users and helping counteract the formation of free radicals because of its antioxidant properties. Evening primrose oil is also thought to aid and strengthen nerve impulses, helping to repair some of the memory loss associated with dementia and Alzheimer's, as well as repair memory and motor-visual coordination. For women, the supplement is known to help ease the symptoms of PMS. Because there are not concentrated amounts of GLA in food, primrose oil offers the best source, although GLA can also be found in borage oil and black currant oil.

Vitamin E: Possesses excellent antioxidant properties that help protect cells and tissues from free radical damage and blood clots (which can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer) while also keeping skin, heart and circulation, nerves, muscles healthy, as well as helping keep the immune system strong as we age. It also assists in proper blood clotting and improves wound healing. Vitamin E also protects and enhances the performance of other supplements in the body, including fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin E can be found in numerous foods, including nuts, egg yolks, liver, peanut butter, and whole grains. Low-fat diets often exclude many of these foods -- and people on these diets should especially look into taking a Vitamin E supplement. Some of the health benefits of Vitamin E have been questioned, but it remains a popular and useful supplement.

Final Thoughts on Vitamins and Supplements

Remember that vitamins and supplements are NOT a substitute for a healthy diet, but rather designed to enhance a healthy lifestyle. Think of supplements as a nutritional backup for when diet, stress, or exercise depletes some of your resources. To achieve the complete results you seek, combine supplements with both a healthy diet and a regular exercise/fitness regimen. When shopping for vitamins and nutritional supplements, purchase brands that use high-quality ingredients and that do not include unnecessary fillers or additives.

One final suggestion -- especially for folks who live in cloudy, wintery conditions. Consider supplementing your diet with Vitamin D. While you can naturally get the amount of Vitamin D you need from short exposures to the sun -- as well as from a diet that includes salmon and tuna, eggs, beef liver, and fortified milk -- a daily dose in winter months is suggested by many.

Not sure what constitutes a healthy diet? See our Empowering Nutrition and Diet Resources.

Need exercise tips? See our Empowering Fitness and Exercises Resources.

Finally, women should look into two other supplements -- enough of which might be found in specially formulated multivitamins. Women of child-bearing age need to monitor their levels of iron and women of all ages should monitor their calcium levels.

For food that are rich in vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber, see also our article, Live Longer. Eat Healthier Daily. Best Foods for You, A-Z.

Interested in reprinting or republishing this article? Please refer to our Article Reprint Guidelines.

Avid wellness guru Dr. Randall S. Hansen Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., is an avid bicyclist, adventurist, environmentalist, and student of wellness and photography, with a mission of empowering others to lead great lives. He is Founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites. Dr. Hansen is also the founder and caretaker of this site, EmpoweringRetreat.com, as well as founder of EmpoweringAdvice.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com or reach him by email at CEO(at)empoweringsites.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

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