Right now, the message is loud and clear: stay home. And so, besides going to the shop for essentials or heading out for some exercise, most of us who aren't fighting the pandemic on the frontlines are spending a heck of a lot more time inside than we probably ever have. We’re now focused on finding ways to stay mentally and physically well while being a stone's throw away from our cozy duvets.
For each of us, lockdown is different. Some are living on UberEats, many are cooking using pantry ingredients, while others have taken to growing tomatoes and cultivating herb gardens. Whatever your approach to nutrition right now, it’s key to fuel your body right. Brooke Alpert, nutrition expert and author, notes, “When any major stressors, life changes or even a pandemic happen, taking care of your nutrition is extremely important.”
Of course, in an ideal world, our diets would be perfectly balanced and nutrient-rich, but we’re not living in an ideal world right now—far from it. Stress and worry can affect our eating habits and the lack of movement and fresh air don’t help. Nutritionist and Solluna founder Kimberly Snyder says that integrating a few key supplements into our daily routines can give our bodies a boost, especially when we’re in self-isolation and looking to stay healthy. “Digestion is one of the first things that can get thrown off when we’re out of our normal routines, which impacts the way we feel and can even compromise our immunity," she explains. "I recommend taking supplements to support digestion, brain and gut health, and immunity to keep us feeling great during these challenging times.”
We called on Alpert and Snyder to share with us the key supplements they recommend factoring in right now to give our bodies and minds a helping hand. Keep scrolling for the six supplements worth taking right now.
If you have noticed some bloating and IBS-like symptoms since being in lockdown, know that you’re not alone. “When we’re in self-isolation, regular eating habits might get thrown off due to new schedules or availability of food at the grocery store. This can result in bloating, constipation and gas, leaving us feeling sluggish and uncomfortable,” says Snyder. “Luckily, digestive enzymes support the digestive system by aiding the body in metabolizing protein, fat, and carbs more effectively. This allows us to get the maximum nutrients from the healthy foods we are eating, which boost our immunity, health and wellness. Digestive enzymes also will help reduce bloating and gas!”
Snyder recommends taking her Feel Good Digestive Enzymes ($35) before each meal to get the most nutrition from your food.
Vitamin D3 is one of the most important supplements to take if you spend a lot of time indoors. “This is a supplement that I often recommend across the board to my clients,” says Alpert. “Vitamin D3 is quite tough to get from food and while we can get it from some sun exposure, it's not always effective since many people wear sunscreen (rightfully so) or live in areas of the country where the sun is limited.”
And right now, when our immune systems are top of mind, Vitamin D3 is key. “It is necessary for the immune system to function properly, for strong bones and for hormonal balance,” says Snyder. “When we’re stuck inside more than normal, we run the risk of a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to compromised immunity, and a dip in mood and energy levels.”
Bolster your health with a Vitamin D3 supplement but make sure to take it correctly: "It's a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that you need to take it with food, and especially food that has some fat in it (hello, avocado toast and eggs) to allow your body to properly absorb this important nutrient," Alpert explains.
Keeping your gut healthy is so vital. Scientists understand now that the microbiome in our gut, if kept healthy, can support everything from our mood to our skin health. “I recommend taking SBO probiotics (soil-based organisms), which are healthy bacteria found in nature that strengthen the gut, help us assimilate the nutrients we eat, and speed up the elimination of waste," she says. "This allows our digestive systems to keep functioning optimally, combating constipation and indigestion that might occur more during self-isolation." She also notes the correlation between gut health and immunity, noting that "up to 70 to 80 percent of the battle for our body's health via the immune system occurs in the gut as the result of the beneficial flora."
Click here to see our list of the best probiotics for women, according to a nutritionist.
Many of us know that inflammation can wreak havoc on your health and Alpert tells us that stressful events can impact not only your immune system, but can also raise your levels of inflammation, which can cause its own health issues (think: heart disease and allergies).
Want to tackle inflammation with a supplement? Alpert’s favorite way to combat inflammation is to take a high-quality omega-3 supplement. “Numerous studies have shown that diets with higher omega-3 intake are connected to a lower level of inflammation," Alpert says. "Another bonus of omega-3 is its positive benefits for depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that people who consume omega-3s regularly are less likely to be depressed and those who are depressed or anxious can see their symptoms improve by taking omega-3.”
The trouble is, omega-3 tends to come from fish oil, which makes it hard if you're a vegan. However, Snyder recommends looking for vegan DHA or EPA if fish is off your menu. “I’m a big supporter of getting omega-3s from food sources like chia seeds and avocado, but taking a DHA/EPA supplement will help ensure we’re meeting our bodies’ needs,” she says. “I’m a fan of algae-based DHA/EPA supplements, which are vegan and avoid the rancidity of fish oil supplements. These can be taken daily with food to keep our brains healthy and our moods lifted.” Ritual's Multivitamin is a Byrdie favorite and contains omega 3 in the form of vegan DHA from microalgae sourced from Canada.
“In times like now, there is never a better time to try CBD,” says Alpert. “CBD is an incredible compound that can help with everything from anxiety to insomnia, two major issues that a lot of people are struggling with these days. It's also beneficial for people struggling with mood issues.”
There are so many CBD supplements on the market it can be daunting to know where to start for a beginner. “What's most important when picking a CBD supplement is to make sure it's a full-spectrum product,” says Alpert. “That means that not only do you get the CBD from the plant, but you also get the other incredible compounds found in the plant. Rest assured, the amount of THC or the part of the plant that causes the pyscho-active affects (being stoned, high or getting the munchies) is in such small amounts that it won't affect you.”
Try Alpert’s Daily Habit CBD that she created to help bring the wellness benefits of CBD to all.
Click here for our ultimate guide to CBD and all of its health benefits.
According to Snyder, one of the first things that people experience when their regular routines are disrupted or when they are more sedentary than usual is constipation or feeling "backed up." Enter: magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral that's already in your body. "It’s easy for our internal systems to get stagnant when we’re stuck inside, which is why it’s key to things flowing with a cleansing magnesium-oxide supplement, like my Feel Good Detoxy," she says.
According to Snyder, magnesium-oxide supplements “deliver oxygen to the colon and overall body, loosening toxin and acidic waste from the colon and supporting elimination. This process improves detoxification and supports intestinal health for strengthened immunity, which we could all use right now." Magnesium-oxide is also the main ingredient in milk of magnesia, an over-the-counter product to help with digestion and ease constipation.
Snyder recommends taking a magnesium-oxide supplement right before bed, “so things get flowing when you wake up the next morning.”