Supplements tend to get short shrift from health professionals, and for good reason: A lot of them are a waste of money and cannot undo the damage of an unhealthy lifestyle. Having said that, there are a few supplements that actually do have benefits and could prove a useful addition to your wellness routine. “Certain medical conditions, economic or demographic factors that influence access to food, life stages and special diets can increase the risk for vitamin insufficiencies that can compromise your health,” says dietitian Mira llic, RD, LD. Here are five supplements scientifically proven to make a difference. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Collagen peptides (also known as hydrolyzed collagen or collagen hydrolysate) not only benefit bone, joints, and muscles, they help your skin look young and healthy. “Collagen peptides are a supplement that can help your body replace its lost collagen,” says Beth Czerwony, RD. “They help firm the skin and plump it up to keep you looking a little bit younger. Collagen peptides can help protect your ligaments and tendons. So they’re worth a try for anybody who has arthritic pain or who works out a lot.”
Folate is a B vitamin especially important for people who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. “Low levels of folate slightly increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” says neuropsychiatrist Aaron Ritter, MD. “The benefits of folate can best be explained as lowering inflammation in the brain. Folate is really important for neurodevelopment in the womb by closing off the neural tube and helping your baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord develop. At the basic level, folate is one of the most important vitamins for helping grow the nervous system.”
If you aren’t getting enough omega-3s from your diet, krill (which means ‘small fish’ in Norwegian) oil might be a good option. “Research has shown that these omega-3 fatty acids may benefit heart health, as well as inflammation,” says Mira Ilic, RD. “Fish oil and krill oil are known to have blood-thinning effects, so for people who take blood thinners, check with your doctor before taking omega-3 supplements.”
Inulin is a prebiotic dietary fiber that’s great for your gut health.
“Because it is dietary fiber, inulin can stimulate bowel movements,” says Kendra Weekley, RD. “Fiber helps keep our bowels regular, which is important for overall intestinal health. Fiber can also help get things moving, prevent constipation and solidify loose stools. So, it is very important to balance the amount of fiber and fluid in one’s diet.”
Vitamin D is useful for people who have low bone density, but always talk to a doctor before supplementing with it. “Vitamin D can have a positive impact,” says Chad Deal, MD. “If you’re healthy and aren’t getting treatment for any medical problems, you don’t have to worry about starting supplements. But if you are now taking supplements, be sure to get your vitamin D levels checked before stopping. If you’re concerned about vitamin D deficiency, ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level. If the level is low and your provider starts you on supplements, you need repeat testing in eight to 12 weeks to make sure the level is not too high or too low.”