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Walking down the supplement aisle at your local market or drug store can prove to be an overwhelming experience, especially with the many brands, sources, forms and manufacturing practices that exist today. While it is always ideal to try and get the nutrients that our bodies need from whole food sources, for many of us this can prove to be a challenge due to lack of time and lack of nutritional knowledge. Some vitamins, minerals and herbs offer benefits to the body that will help to support your yoga practice, specifically in the areas of balance, flexibility and strength. These nutrients work at a chemical level within the body and help to maintain hormonal and nervous system balance, reduce inflammation, bolster the immune system and increase energy.
B Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 & B9 -Folic Acid)– Vitamin; assists in metabolizing (turning into energy) fats, carbohydrates and proteins and maintaining energy level.
Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)– Herb; antioxidant that supports focus and concentration, improves memory and reduces anxiety. Used for cleansing the blood, and may stimulate hair, skin, and nail growth. Considered an Ayurvedic herb.
Vitamin C– Vitamin; antioxidant that assists in rebuilding muscle protein, supports immune functions, the adrenal gland and potassium absorption.
Glucosamine– Amino sugar; helps to maintain levels of synovial fluid between joints, which can alleviate joint pain or stiffness, promotes cartilage repair and production. May increase flexibility.
Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum)– Herb, also known as “Holy Basil”; reduces inflammation, supports the immune and respiratory systems as well as liver detoxification, stamina and metabolism. The benefits of Tulsi have been documented for years in India where it is used to alleviate common ailments such as the cold and high cholesterol.
As you read the labels on the supplement bottles the following ingredients should be RED FLAGS as they DO NOT support the intended benefits of the supplement:
- Corn, Wheat or Soy– Used as fillers, not for nutritional qualities and in many cases are derived from cheap GMO sources. Also a concern for individuals with food allergies or sensitivities. May be present as high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch, soy lecithin, soybean oil, etc.
- Artificial Colors and Flavors– These colors are often followed by a number or letter as in “Red #40” or “Orange B”
- Artificial Sweeteners– Usually found in supplements that are “chewable” or “coated”. The ingredients may list aspartame, sucralose, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame K and neotame.
- Hydrogenated/Partially Hydrogenated Oils– Used to prolong shelf-life, these oils turn to solid at room temperature and contain trans-fatty acids which have been linked to numerous health concerns including heart disease and multiple sclerosis.
Remember that all nutritional supplements are not created equally. Check that the manufacture is GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified and select brands from organic sources and those that are labeled Non-GMO. If you are vegetarian or vegan, look for keywords like, “vegetarian formula” or “vegetable source” and be cautious when selecting capsules as most (but not all) contain gelatin.
Please note that the information presented in this article is not intended to prevent, diagnose or treat any illness or malady. This information is provided as a resource only. Please seek recommendations and advise from a qualified Medical or Naturopathic practitioner before starting a supplement regimen.
Enjoy your day and Live your practice,
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+