Supplement Basics - Part II
Supplementation habits in Hong Kong are relatively new. Only in the last decade or so, people have started to look for supplements to improve on their health for prevention or finding a natural means to manage a condition in particular. Most of this knowledge came from the “western” countries. Majority of expats already take supplements, if not at least, has heard someone taking supplements for their health. Locals on the other hand, are only beginning this journey.
Generally speaking, what I’ve found and seen clinically, is that supplements only have benefits if you follow these steps:
In order for the supplement to have any noticeable benefits, you have to create a habit of actually taking them regularly or as prescribed.
Supplements as food items, have to be treated as part of your diet (after all, supplements are used to ‘supplement’ something you’re missing in your regular diet)
Most supplements should be taken with or after food, with the exception of digestive enzymes, and a few others.
Dosage is very important
So, what types of supplements should we take in general for maintenance or overall health and well-being? I get this question a lot from customers and patients. Everyone is an individual, every person has different nutritional needs, so how do you know?
Generally speaking there are always 5 supplements that I always advocate. Choice is yours to implement all or a few to begin your journey. There are products now that combine these together, so it is more convenient.
Omega Oils - Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are important for many functions and systems in the body. Omega Fats are a group of GOOD fats like: Omega 3, 6, 9…even 7. I won’t get into specifics of each, but in general, they help with ALL your internal organs and musculoskeletal system, nervous system, heart, brain, skin, liver, joints. It helps with your immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties. The list is quite long for ALL the benefits it can potentially provide.*
Probiotics - these little creatures are mutualistically beneficial for improving digestion and increasing immune function in the GI tract as well as having systemic benefits. Somehow we’ve always had this symbiotic relationship with them and we’re only beginning to learn and understand what they can do for us.**
Greens - There’s a wide array of greens powders on the market nowadays, and better tasting ones than the first generation of greens powders. It provides elemental nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, micro nutrient factors…you name it! They do a better job than multivitamins I believe, it’s more bio available and hence easier to absorb and utilise.
Vitamin D3 - the “Happy Vitamin”- nothing sunshine won’t cure! However, HK people hate the sun, they wear long sleeves, bring out umbrellas on sunny days, hats and shades to cover up every inch so their skin doesn’t get blemished. I’m mostly speaking of the ladies, however, despite living in a tropical zoned city, our sun exposure is quite low, with tall buildings, and being indoors all the time for work. Also with the intense heat in the summer months, people stray away from being outdoors. I can’t speak for all but generally our vitamin D levels are almost the same as high latitude northern hemisphere countries like Canada and the Scandavian countries during the winter. Make sure the dose is in range to normal, Vitamin D3 can be toxic if taken at high doses for a prolonged period of time.
Protein - the misconception of protein especially amongst the local population. That if you take protein, you’ll grow muscles into chunks and get huge, and it’s bad for your kidneys. To my first point, if people just took protein and would get large, than I think there would be no use for personal trainers and all gyms; secondly, there is merit to this notion. If you didn’t drink enough water and only ate protein, the kidneys do have to work harder to deal with the excess protein. Protein is essential for many things in the body like muscle integrity, organ function, immune function, blood sugar regulation (insulin is a type of protein), just to name a few. The sources include, whey, casein, egg, beef, chicken, or plant based proteins.
*If you’re allergic to fish and want omega 3s, there are other options such as: algae based omega based oils, perilla seed oil, and hemp seed oil, all contain higher concentrations of omega 3s than 6s.
**Make sure that the probiotics are from the fridge, unless it’s a shelf stable HSO probiotic, or the probiotics are probably dead and render useless.
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