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The Top Supplements for Summer

Summer's in full swing, which means sunny weekends, warmer weather, and long, lazy days on the beach. Don't let vacation mode throw your health off track--these supplements will keep you hydrated and ready to make the most out of those backyard barbecues and afternoons at the pool.

STAY HYDRATED

When it comes to staying hydrated, nothing does the job like good old fashioned water, but if you're heat-sensitive, sweating like crazy this summer, or upping your workout game, you could benefit from these hydrating supplements.

Found in foods like bananas, avocados, and squash, potassium is one of the most important minerals in the body, responsible for regulating electrolytes and fluid levels that help everything from your heart to your digestive system function correctly. (x)

Potassium works alongside sodium and magnesium to support hydration, which is critical during scorching summer months. Drinking enough water doesn't just quench your thirst: it helps regulate your heartbeat, lowers blood pressure, prevents your muscles from cramping, ensures your cells work correctly, and keeps your organs pumping. (x)

While it's rare to be deficient in potassium, it can occur, especially in those with certain medical conditions or endurance athletes like long-distance runners. Deficiency symptoms include muscle weakness and cramping, fatigue, tingling or numbness, nausea or vomiting, heart palpitations, constant thirst, fainting, and mood changes. (x)

The recommended daily intake for potassium is 3,500 mg, which can be difficult to obtain via the diet alone, making supplementation necessary if you're deficient.

Unlike coconut milk or oil--both of which come from mature coconuts--coconut water is harvested from young, green coconuts.

With a sweet, tropical kick, coconut water is a refreshing addition to your workout shake and packs a nutritional punch: its a natural antioxidant that protects your body from damaging free radicals (like pollutants lingering in the summer heat) and is rich in hydrating potassium. (x) Another bonus? It contains significantly less sugar than traditional workout drinks, meaning you don't have to worry about extra calories.

Add 1 tablespoon to your recovery drink to replenish your electrolytes after a tough cardio or strength-training session, or sprinkle into your water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

SUN PROTECTION

Stock up on sunscreen and these supplements to protect your skin from the summer's intense UV rays.

Vitamin E functions as a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It helps the immune system fight infection and protects cells from free radical damage--including UV light. (x)

Vitamin E is one of the body's built-in sunscreens: it absorbs UV energy from the sun to protect the skin, and if taken orally or applied topically before UV exposure, it may also reduce some of sunburn's nastiest side effects, like skin inflammation, reddening and cell damage that could accelerate aging. (x)

Research suggests that when applied as a topical treatment for sun protection, vitamin E may be even more effective when combined with vitamin C or beta-carotene. (x)

Vitamin E concentrations in your skin decrease as you age and when you're exposed to sunlight (like in hot summer months) and while it's rare to be deficient, it's still important to ensure you're getting the recommended daily value (30 IU for a healthy adult).

Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, a plant pigment that gives many fruits and vegetables their vivid color (think carrots and bright red peppers). Like vitamin E, it functions as an antioxidant, supports immune function, and promotes heart, eye, and skin health (x).

Beta-carotene has a sunscreen factor of two to three, meaning it allows your skin to withstand two to three times as much sun exposure without sustaining damage (x). It may reduce redness and swelling from a sunburn, although unlike sunscreen, which you can apply for immediate protection, beta-carotene can take up to 10 weeks of supplementation to increase the skin's protection factor (x) (x).

Omega-3s are healthy fats found in fish, nuts, and some seeds. They're crucial to maintaining overall health, especially when it comes reducing harmful inflammation throughout the body and promoting cardiovascular health. Another bonus? Research suggests they may have anti-aging benefits and could reduce skin sensitivity to UV rays. (x)

When you expose your skin to sunlight, it decreases collagen production (collagen helps keep your skin smooth and wrinkle-free); supplementing with omega-3s, however, could reduce collagen loss and signs of aging caused by UV exposure. (x)

If you spent a bit too much time in the sun on your last beach vacation, omega-3s may also reduce inflammation caused by sunburn or prolonged UV exposure. (x)

If you've ever had a monster sunburn, chances are the burn cream you used contained aloe vera. It's been used as a topical treatment to soothe inflammation and heal wounds since Ancient Egyptian times.

Aloe is a natural antibiotic that may be used as a healing agent on sunburned or irritated skin and could help prevent redness. (x) It continues to reduce swelling 48 hours after UV exposure, and may even fight the signs of aging by accelerating collagen production. (x) (x) Mix aloe vera powder into your sunscreen, skin mask, or face wash for healthy, UV-protected skin.

ENERGY-BOOSTERS

Eager to enjoy the warmer weather but too tired to even think about leaving the couch? These supplement pick-me-ups will give you the boost you need to make the most out of the season.

It seems counter-intuitive: why would you need to take vitamin D in the summer? Aren't you getting enough by spending more time outdoors?

Not necessarily. It's estimated that more than 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D-deficient, and that number is just as high in the summer as it is in the winter. (x) (x)

Maybe you live in northern latitudes where there's less sunlight, work indoors all day, or simply don't get outside as often as you'd like--whatever the case, it's one of the most common vitamin deficiencies and also one of the most dangerous. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in everything from immune function to bone strength and may even protect the body from developing certain types of cancers. (x) If you're deficient, you might develop symptoms like hair loss, muscle weakness, and difficulty concentrating--and you could put yourself at risk for developing a host of health problems like weakened bones, an impaired immune system, and cardiovascular disease. (x)

One of the worst symptoms of a deficiency is chronic fatigue. If you're too exhausted to enjoy the warmer weather, you may need to add vitamin D to your supplement routine. Studies show that it could improve energy levels by enhancing the action of mitochondria--structures in cells that are responsible for energy production. (x)

The daily recommended value for vitamin D is 400 IU, although many doctors maintain this is too low and suggest taking 2,000 IU a day. (x)  Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements to determine the dose that works for you.

Rhodiola rosea, also called roseroot or goldenroot, is a flowering plant native to the Arctic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. Like vitamin D, rhodiola is believed to increase energy by affecting mitochondria; specifically, it activates synthesis of ATP, a molecule that produces the explosive energy you need to crush those burpees and sprints (x) 

Studies have linked rhodiola supplementation to improved athletic endurance, likely because rhodiola may increase your red blood cell count. (x) (x) Red blood cells carry oxygen to your cells, making it easier for you to work out longer and harder.

Rhodiola may interact with MAOIs and other medications used to treat depression and anxiety; talk to your doctor before adding rhodiola to your supplement routine if you take any of these medications.

 

 

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