You try to eat healthy, but there are still those splurges on nachos, beer, and pizza. (And that's just the short list of your cheat foods). So you're likely nowhere close to getting all the nutrients you need each day. You're not alone. Who really eats nine servings of fruits and veggies every day? That's where a few wellchosen capsules can help. "Supplements won't counteract poor eating habits, but they can help to make a healthy diet better," says Amanda Carlson, M.S., R.D., director of performance nutrition at Athletes' Performance in Tempe, Ariz. In other words, while you still need all the fruits and vegetables you can stomach, on those days when you opt for a beer rather than a smoothie, the right supplements can help to fill in the gaps from a less than ideal diet.
The Base Plan (also for you if you're in your 20s):
No rocket science here, but it's surprising just how many guys still don't take a multi. The key to making 'em work is to make them part of your routine. Instead of stashing the bottle on a shelf, keep it by your toothbrush or coffeepot—something you hit every day without fail. Make sure your multi also contains two key nutrients: selenium (for its cancer protective effects) and zinc (which helps you make sperm). Also, check the capsule size and dosage. It's easier to take one pill rather than two or three.
2) Fish Oil
Fish is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain and heart health and act as a natural anti-infl ammatory—especially benefi cial if you have sports injuries or aching joints. Even if you manage to eat the two to three recommended servings of fi sh each week, Carlson still suggests popping one to three grams of fi sh oil daily, veering toward the higher side if fi sh isn't really your meat of choice. Also look for a brand that contains both EPA and DPA, the two key healthy fats in fish.
These are good bacteria—the same kind found in your intestine—that aid with overall gut health and enhance your immune system. You can get probiotics in your diet by eating yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, miso, tempeh, and some juices and soy beverages. However, if you're not eating those foods regularly, take a probiotic supplement with at least 10 billion live bacteria from one or more of the Lactobacillus family. It's generally best to take one capsule before bed.
If you're in your 30s, add these to the base plan:
1) Vitamin D:
Along with boosting bone health, vitamin D may help prevent diabetes, metabolic syndrome, multiple sclerosis, certain cancers, and other health conditions. Yet if you're not drinking milk or getting small doses of unprotected sun exposure (your skin makes D from sunlight), you could be D-deficient. Surveys have actually found that about 40 to 70 percent of children are already deficient, which is why Anding calls this the new epidemic. Recommended allowances call for 400 IU daily, although Anding says this may be too low. Find D in foods like fortified skim milk (98 IU in one cup), cooked salmon (360 IU in 3.5 ounces) and eggs (20 IU in one egg). If your diet's not up to par and you're inside most of the time, pop 1,000 IU daily, choosing a supplement that has D3, or cholecalciferol, which is more potent than D2, another form of the vitamin.
2) Glucosamine and Chondroitin:
These substances, which are found naturally in the body, could be a natural way to help with pain from sports injuries or aching joints, Carlson says. Take 1,500 milligrams daily; you should see improvements in six weeks. If not, they're probably not working for you.