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How to Know Which Supplements To Take

Sure, you try to get your fill of fruits, veggies, and other healthy eats, but with a busy schedule (and cravings for cookies), eating well can be easier said than done. That's where supplements come in. While what you need depends on your lifestyle (are you a vegetarian? A runner?), here are the top seven supplements you may want to ask your doctor about.

Multivitamin Basically, a multi is a grab bag of everything important -- that means Vitamin B and D, calcium, iron, etc. This standard supplement works for almost anyone, so take one each day with breakfast (or whenever, as long as you’re taking it!). Warning: Taking a multi doesn’t mean you can skip out on a healthy diet. It's still important to get the proper amount of protein, fruits, veggies, and grains.

Calcium This mineral is essential for bone development. If you don't drink enough milk or eat enough dairy products, this might be a supplement you should consider. Since we build bone until our mid-20s and then need this bone to last through our lifetime, it’s important to get enough calcium daily.

Iron You can get iron from red meats, beans, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach. If you're a vegetarian or vegan (or maybe you just hate beans and veggies), you might want to consider iron supplements. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in young women, and it could be the reason you've had no energy lately. Still, since excessive dosages of iron can be harmful, make sure you only supplement if you are found to have low blood levels of iron (no excuses -- it's so easy to have your doctor test your blood!).

Omega-3 fatty acids These healthy fats help improve heart health by decreasing cholesterol levels. Recent studies have also shown that these fats may help to reduce abdominal fat (easiest weight loss ever!) and may play a role in mood and preventing depression. To make sure you're getting enough omega-3, aim for three servings of fish per week in addition to other items like walnuts and flax seeds. If this doesn't sound like your diet, it may be time to consider a supplement.

Vitamin D D-deficiency is super-common in both men and women. Not having enough vitamin D can lead to bone loss and increase the risk of a ton of bad stuff (like cancer and obesity), so it's important to maintain a healthy level in your system. Again, because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, taking too much could be dangerous to your health. So get your blood tested first and then discuss supplementation with your doctor or dietitian.

Vitamin C While most of us get adequate amounts of vitamin C through diet and rarely need an additional supplement, you may want to think about supplementing if you're diet is low in fruits and veggies. Vitamin C helps maintain a healthy immune system and it's also the quickest way to solve a cold. Plus, we know how much you love Emergen-C!

Folic acid This is especially important for women thinking about becoming pregnant in the next year. If that's you, make sure to speak with your dietitian or physician about taking a prenatal multivitamin that includes adequate folic acid.

Nestpert: Erin Palinski is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer in Northern New Jersey. She is the owner of the Vernon Nutrition Center and author of the "Healthy 'n Fit Weight Management Program," a weight management program for children and teens.

For more Fitness tips, Check out How to Exercise if You're Lazy.

-- Alexandra Finkel

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