Confession: I Don’t Take Any Vitamins—so I Went to a Nutritionist to Find Out What I Really Need

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True Life: I'm a 23-year-old editor at a wellness publication, and I've never ingested a vitamin. Okay, I tried gummy vitamins at a friend's house when I was like 10, and my mom made me take fish oil once (but I hated the way it tasted and promptly spat it out).

Before you start lecturing me, just know I totally get it. After my literal vitamin deficiency was brought to my attention by my coworkers—who have mounds of vitamins surrounding their workspaces—I got to thinking: Am I living my best life?

Aside from being the most millennial-sounding question to ever leave my mouth, it's something I've really been wanting to address. Does my skin or mood suffer without me even noticing? Is my digestion as good as it could be? Am I as happy as I could be? Okay, let's pause the existential crisis for a sec.

It was about time that I take my vitamins by the horns (guess that's a saying now), so I made an appointment with Melissa Rifkin, CDN, to see what I should be taking to make sure I'm operating at peak Alex level. "I always say, even if your diet is perfect, you could be missing out on some things. I don’t think it’s harmful for anyone to take a vitamin," says Rifkin. So, here goes. 

"I always say, even if your diet is perfect, you could be missing out on some things. I don’t think it’s harmful for anyone to take a vitamin."

To start off our consultation, Rifkin asked me to describe my eating and workout habits. I do HIIT and light strength training three to four times a week, and day-to-day I tend to stay away from gluten because my stomach just refuses. But on the weekends, all bets are off (I just can't say no to everything bagels), which is probably pretty unfair to my gut considering I also have digestive issues.

I shared all this info with Rifkin, along with my 2019 mission to stop ignoring my gut issues, and she gave me her recommendations for all the supplements I need to ensure my digestion, energy levels, and emotions are all set up for success this new year.

Rifkin's one-stop shop for all of her go-to supplements (she's a hardcore runner and deals with many of the same gut issues as I do) is NOW®, because there are literally hundreds of varieties of supplements and they're all quality tested to ensure safety and efficacy—basically what every nutritionist dreams of.

Keep reading to find out what I learned about my newfound relationship with vitamins and which ones are now in my shopping cart.

Photo: Stocksy/Guille Faingold

Where have probiotics been all my life?

Given my stomach circumstances—AKA my intestinal discomfort mixed with my general intolerance to gluten—it was clear to Rifkin that I need a probiotic. NOW's Probiotic-10™ & Bifido Boost™ helps in promoting intestinal comfort and regularity in the GI tract, which is right up my alley—err, belly.*

She suggested pairing my probiotic with prebiotics, like the prebiotic complex in Probiotic-10™ & Bifido Boost™ or through my diet with bananas, onions, and garlic. "A prebiotic is like a catalyst, which is going to nourish the probiotics and improve the quantity and diversity of gut organisms," Rifkin says.* Honestly, I'm a little relieved that it's this easy to get my gut on track—but also like, how did I not do this before now? 

Photo: Vertigo3d/Getty

Omega-3s are everything

I've heard a lot of talk about Omega-3s (see: my previous spat with fish oil, which my mom said would make my hair grow), but nothing too specific, so this is where I really wanted some informed intel.

"Omega-3s have been linked to the maintenance of a positive mood, cardiovascular health, and already normal triglyceride levels," Rifkin says.* Basically, it's the Clark Kent of the supplement world. 

I'm naturally prone to feeling high levels of daily stress, and I definitely don't eat enough fish in my normal diet, so this is an alternative I'm totally down for. My one hesitation was its reputation for a fishy aftertaste, but Rifkin notes that she didn't taste anything out of the ordinary with NOW's  Eco-Sustain Omega-3 Softgels.

Photo: Maskot/Getty

Vitamin D for the former Florida girl

As a native Floridian, the winter blues have never been on my radar. Florida weather always rocks and the sun is always turned to max brightness.  This is not the case in New York. Winter hit me a lot harder than I expected when I moved last year, and I found myself in a burrito-like position in bed without moving for what felt like days.

Rifkin recommended Vitamin D-3 to support my moods during the dreary winter season that insists on coming every year (even when I ask it not to).* Vitamin D isn't too abundant in food, either, according to Rifkin, so this supplement is a lot more necessary than I originally thought.

Photo: Tom Dunkley/Getty

B-12s or be squared during workouts

Since a lot of grains incite a bad meeting with the bathroom for me, I'm missing out on the energy that carbs provide—and it really shows mid-HIIT sesh when I'm pretty close to seeing the light. To replace that energy boost, Rifkin suggests supplementing with B-12 and folic acid.*

Plus, she also said I could supplement folic acid (which helps the body make new cells and can help maintain normal red blood cell production) via my diet by upping my intake of green leafy veggies, beans, and some baked goods. Looks like I've got my office-lunch meal plan for all of 2019—and the supplements on my desk to match.

In partnership with NOW®

Top photo: Stocksy/Evil Pixels Photography

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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