Which Supplements Are Actually Worth Buying?
Ideally, we should be able to obtain all our vital nutrients from food. However, real life makes this challenging. If you’re a nutritionist, you have in-depth knowledge of the body’s needs and how to meet them. However, most of us don’t have this advantage
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) acknowledges that supplements are useful in filling nutritional gaps.  Still, you don’t want to overload your body or your budget with unnecessary nutrients. Which supplements offer the greatest benefit? Which ones are worth your money? There are three:
- Whey protein
Read on for why these supplements merit a spot on your shopping list.
The NIH recommends discussing supplements with your doctor first, so your health care is managed professionally. Your physician can also test for certain nutrients to see how much supplementation is needed. This is helpful for evaluating blood levels of calcium and Vitamin D
The NIH also suggests choosing a multivitamin tailored to your age, gender, and any special condition, such as pregnancy.  Following that guideline, here are the nutrients that should be present in supplements for women and men.
Childbearing Age to Age 50
According to Prevention magazine, a woman’s multivitamin should contain 100% of the following daily values:
- Vitamin B6 – 2 mg
- Vitamin B12 – 2.4 mcg
- Vitamin D – 600 IU
- Vitamin K – 90 mcg
- Folic Acid – 400 mcg
- Calcium – 1,000 mg
- Iron – 18 mg
- Magnesium – 400 mg
- Selenium – 55 mcg
- Zinc – 8 mg
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – 2 gm 
Women’s Multivitamin Superheroes
The Livestrong Foundation gives high marks to the following women’s multivitamins:
- Centrum Ultra Women’s
- Nature Made Multi For Her
- One-A-Day Women’s
- Puritan’s Pride Woman’s One Daily
- Rainbow Light Just Once Natural Women’s One 
Research shows that prenatal vitamins reduce the risk of pre-term birth, low birth weight, and birth defects.
According to WebMD, a woman’s prenatal multivitamin should contain:
- Folic Acid – to prevent neural defects
- Iron – to avoid anemia
- Calcium – for proper bone development
- Vitamin D – to assimilate calcium
- DHA – an omega-3 fatty acid needed for the brain, eyes, and nervous system. Studies also suggest it promotes normal gestation length and supports a mother’s mental health. 
Promising Prenatal Multivitamins
- Below are highly-rated organic prenatal supplements that are a great value:
- Country Life Maxi Prenatal Multivitamins – good for sensitive mommy stomachs
- New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin – Kosher, easily swallowed and digested
- New Chapter Wholemega Prenatal – with 17 omega fatty acids, including DHA
- Twinlab Prenatal Care Multivitamins – energizing, ideal levels of calcium and magnesium
Helpful Resource: Top 10 Multivitamins for Women
The Institute of Medicine reports that men and women have the same basic needs for Vitamins B12, D, and E. Men require the same amount of iron as postmenopausal women, 8 mg.  They don’t need as much calcium. The Harvard Medical School reports that high consumption of calcium can contribute to prostate cancer. It recommends 800 mg of calcium per day for men. 
A multivitamin targeted to men may have lycopene. This is the red pigment found in tomatoes. It works as an antioxidant, protecting against cellular damage. Lycopene has been linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer. A men’s multivitamin may also have higher selenium than a woman’s formula. This trace mineral is also associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer.
Men’s Multivitamin All-Stars
Men’s Health magazine highly rates the supplements below for men. Their findings are based on recommendations by two renowned dieticians, Dawn Blatner, dietary consultant for the Chicago Cubs, and Dave Grotto, nutrition author. 
- Rainbow Light Men’s One
- Nature Made Multi for Him
- One A Day Men’s Health Formula
Helpful Resource: Top 10 Multivitamins for Men
2. WHEY PROTEIN
What is Whey?
Whey protein is the watery component of milk that separates when cheese is made. It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It has the dietary advantage of being low in lactose, a milk sugar. It is also readily assimilated by the body.
Why Buy Whey?
Men’s Fitness cites six reasons:
- Increased muscle strength
- Hunger control
- Weight loss
- Improved immunity
- Cancer protection
- Reduced stress 
Types of Whey Protein
There are three types of whey – concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. They differ in the way they’re processed.
Concentrate – contains some lactose and fat. It is about 70-80% protein and has the best taste. It tends to be the least expensive.
Isolate – has less lactose and fat. It is approximately 90% protein. It lacks many of the beneficial nutrients present in whey protein concentrate.
Hydrolysate – also called hydrolyzed whey, it is pre-digested for faster absorption. It causes a greater surge of insulin than isolate. It is the most expensive form of whey and less tasty than the other two.
Fitness experts vary regarding the best type of whey.
According to Authority Nutrition, whey protein concentrate is the best option.  It is the least expensive form of whey and retains most of the nutrients present in whey. Additionally, many people prefer the taste of whey concentrate. If you try concentrate and have difficulty digesting it, you may fare better with isolate or hydrolysate.
Muscle and Fitness suggests that isolate or hydrolysate are the preferred forms.  Isolate is the purest form of whey, with the highest protein percentage. Hydrolysate is the most easily digested.
Keeping both viewpoints in mind, digestibility is a prime consideration. Go with what goes down easiest. If you’re a lady you’ll find this list of woman’s protein powders very useful.
A general recommended dosage is 1-2 scoops, about 25-50 grams of protein per day from protein powder.
Whey Protein Champions
Men’s Health salutes the following brand of whey protein powder:
- Jay Robb Whey Protein Isolate – low in carbohydrates, lactose-free, no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors. 
Bodybuilding.com cites the following as a wow-worthy whey product:
- Now Foods Whey Protein Isolate – all natural, smooth flavor. 
- BuiltLean.com gives three cheers for the following:
- Blue Bonnet 100% Whey Protein Isolate – short ingredient list, great flavor.
- Enhanced Life Extension Whey Protein – very low calorie, yummy.
- Tera’s Whey Organic – high-quality concentrate, excellent taste, easily digested. 
Helpful Resource: Complete Protein Powder Buying Guide
Creatine is a nitrogen compound made by the liver. It fuels cells with energy. Muscle cells are especially fond of creatine.
The International Olympic Committee permits the usage of creatine. 
Why Take Creatine?
Here’s the upshot on the benefits of creatine. As documented by bodybuilding.com, research shows.
- Creatine builds muscle.
- It enables high-intensity strength training.
- It enhances recovery.
- Creatine makes you a smart cookie. It enhances brain function and protects against nerve degeneration. Australian researchers report that creatine increases intelligence and improves memory.
- It facilitates bone healing.
- It improves glucose tolerance, of particular benefit to those with diabetes.
Note – Consult with your doctor before starting creatine. It must be used with caution with certain medical conditions. Also take care to not exceed the recommended dosage, which can result in side effects.
The optimal dose of creatine depends on body weight and exercise intensity. For details on dosing, including ideal timing, go to: http://www.nutritionexpress.com/showarticle.aspx?articleid=61, or click here:
Bodybuilding.com gives high scores to the following creatine products. Kudos apply to the unflavored versions of each.
- Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
- CreAde by RSP Nutrition
- Platinum 100% Creatine by Muscle Tech
Helpful Resource: Top 10 Creatine Supplements
THE BIG LEAGUES
Enter the big leagues of life with the three powerhouses – multivitamins, whey, and creatine. They’re worth your hard-earned money. Be at the top of your game emotionally, mentally, and physically.
To help decide on which supplements to buy in each category, check out this rankings website for some good info.
Here’s to your health!