by Joanna Foley, RD, CLT September 08, 2022 3 min read

Chances are you care a lot about your health. Yet, even if you eat a balanced diet based on whole food sources that include protein, healthy fats, and a variety of colorful fruit and vegetables, you may still be missing out on the optimal levels of essential nutrients. This is why using supportive nutritional supplements can play an important role in complementing your diet and ensuring your body is properly balanced.

But choosing from the countless available supplement products can be confusing. What are the most important nutritional supplements, anyway? Here's how to build a solid foundation.

What Are the Essential Vitamins and Minerals?

Vitamins come in two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K. The water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and the family of eight B vitamins.

Minerals also come in two categories: major minerals and trace minerals. Major minerals include magnesium, sodium, calcium and potassium. Trace minerals include iron, zinc and selenium. They are "essential" in that our body requires them to function effectively and cannot produce them on it's own, therefore adequate levels need to be obtained through dietary intake and supportive nutritional supplementation.

All of these nutrients are key to helping every part of your body function the way it should. Even if you're consuming these nutrients, you may not be absorbing them properly, which means your body may not be able to utilize them in the right way.

What Are the Most Important Nutritional Supplements?

The ideal supplement regime will vary from person to person. It depends on many factors, including your current health, dietary intake, life stage, activity levels and age. This is why using a simple at-home lab test to look at individual parameters like your body's vitamin and mineral levels can be so helpful in identifying nutrient imbalances; how to restore possible deficiencies or reduce accumulated toxicities, and restore balance.

There are four key foundational supplements that are often a great starting point for better health:

Using a digestive enzyme with whole food meals or certain foods that are harder to digest can also be beneficial and help enhance the absorption of nutrients from food itself. To make things easier, you could purchase the foundational recommendations in a whole-health package.

How Can You Optimize Your Diet Alongside Nutritional Supplements?

Nutritional supplements are a helpful bonus, but they never replace a healthy diet. It's important to learn about the basics of good nutrition, which includes lean proteins, healthy fats and complex carbs.

There are many ways to incorporate supportive foundations:

  • Consume an easy-to-digest, balanced breakfast. Smoothies are an excellent and delicious way to get the essential nutrients our body needs at the start of each day. Choose smoothie recipes that include plant-based protein, healthy fats, anti-oxidant-rich berries or other fruit you enjoy.

  • Create balanced meals for lunch and dinner, including all three macronutrients. A plant-based bowl with cooked quinoa, mixed vegetables and avocado or a fillet of wild salmon with steamed greens. Make your own healthy dressings with tahini or olive oil and lemon juice.

  • Choose a piece of fruit or a small handful of raw nuts or seeds as a snack if needed.

  • Eat fish at least a few times per week - especially oily fish that are rich in healthy omega-3 essential fats.

The best way to make sure you're getting all the nutrients you need is to eat a wide variety of whole foods, prioritizing fruits and vegetables. Food should always come first as a source of nutrition.

Did you know that nine out of ten people are often found to have nutrient deficiencies? To learn more about the top five vitamins that everyone should be taking, listen to this podcast. Better yet, find out about your individual digestive health plus your vitamin and mineral levels with a targeted approach right for you with a simple at-home lab test.

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