There are so many vitamins that our bodies require – sometimes it’s hard to keep up! It seems like every day there’s a new “public service announcement” about what supplements we need. So, I did some research and made a list of 8 essential vitamins.
I consider myself sort of a “vitamin pro” at this point. Simply because I’ve had to be. During my travels, about 3 months ago, I got severely sick. I had no healthcare and no idea what was wrong with me.
For 2 months I dealt with severe fatigue, brain fog, brain inflammation, swollen feet, swollen hands, swollen tongue, anxiety attacks in the middle of the night, difficulty swallowing and at times difficulty breathing. It was a nightmare. I had to stop traveling until I improved. I had no energy, no motivation and I was getting severely depressed for reasons I couldn’t even come up with.
So I paid cash for some blood tests at an Express Lab, reviewed them myself, changed my diet and started taking vitamins religiously. And while I wouldn’t recommend you ever try to diagnose yourself or treat an illness without a doctor’s order – those small changes fixed everything. Absolutely everything.
Taking care of your body is essential and it was something I had neglected for too long. Don’t let yourself get to the point, like I did, where it feels like you’re losing your mind or losing control of your body. Take your vitamins!
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1. Vitamin C
Of course we all know Vitamin C is the immune booster. We’ve heard it for years. But Vitamin C has more benefits than preventing a cold. It helps to lower your blood pressure, protects cardiovascular health and is essential for healthy eyes and skin. Vitamin C even effects your brain as it is a key element in the production of norepinephrine, which effects your mood and your brain function. It also speeds up wound healing and prevents serious health issues like heart failure, stroke and even cancer.
Taking Vitamin C is incredibly important for travelers since we’re exposing our bodies to unfamiliar environments and unfamiliar foods. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than being sick in a foreign country or getting sick just before you have to get on a tiny, sweaty bus to your next destination.
I feel Zinc is one of those vitamins no one ever thinks of. It’s not the weirdest kid in school, because at least that kid gets some kind of attention. It’s the kid that no one even knows exists. But just like that “invisible kid”, Zinc has a lot to offer!
Zinc is particularly useful in balancing hormones (listen up, ladies!) and is a common deficiency in women taking birth control. It assists in the production of progesterone and estrogen. So if you’re struggling with irregular menstruation, mood swings, acne or infertility, lack of Zinc could be part of the problem.
But Zinc’s benefits are not limited to women (to the male readers: taking Zinc won’t give you an influx of estrogen). It also helps naturally increase testosterone, which both men and women need. Not to mention, it aids in muscle growth, liver health, heart health and even fights diabetes.
It’s fairly common knowledge that Calcium is important for bone health, but it’s also essential from proper heart, muscle and nerve function.
Magnesium helps your body to absorb Calcium and Vitamin D, so that’s reason enough to take a “Cal-Mag” supplement, in my opinion. But if that isn’t enough to convince you, let’s take a look at the health benefits of Magnesium.
- Calms nerves and anxiety
- Prevents migraines
- Relaxes muscles and relieves muscle aches
- Treats insomnia
WHAT!? (As you can tell, I get really excited about vitamins.) But seriously, I started taking a Cal-Mag before bed and within 2 days I stopped waking up with anxiety attacks and I no longer found myself clenching my jaw in my sleep or feeling stiff and sore in the morning. It was a total game changer. And I don’t know about you, but poor sleep is one my biggest issues on the road.
4. Vitamin D
Another common deficiency, especially in women, is Vitamin D. Common symptoms of this deficiency are fatigue and muscle weakness. I had both, and after receiving my test results I realized my levels were disturbingly low. Without Vitamin D, your body is unable to properly absorb Calcium, and if it isn’t dealt with it can lead to frail, brittle bones.
NOTE: Taking Vitamin K-2 helps absorb Vitamin D and there is also evidence to support that it prevents blood vessel calcification. The calcification of blood vessels became a concern after the semi-recent “boom” of Vitamin D in our diet. With the rise of Vitamin D deficiencies and osteoporosis, companies began adding Vitamin D to foods that don’t naturally contain the vitamin. This lead, in some cases, to Vitamin D toxicity which then lead to blood vessel calcification. Vitamin K can assist in preventing this.
Don’t want to carry around a bunch of rattling pill bottles? Try these airtight, moisture resistant pill bags!
Chances are, the day you start taking B-12 you’ll notice a significant difference in your mood and energy levels. That’s because B-12 is an extremely common nutrient deficiency. Common symptoms of this deficiency are fatigue, lethargy, stress and depression. Hm… Sound familiar? It did to me! And taking B-12 dramatically improved my mental health and energy levels. Feeling tired and lethargic is the last thing you want on vacation and B-12 is an effective energy boost that lasts all day!
NOTE: It’s best to buy the sublingual B-12, if possible. This is the best way to maximize absorption since the B-12 is then able to bypass the digestive system and absorb directly into the bloodstream. I use this one and love it! The flavor is pretty good and I noticed immediate results.
Iron is an extremely common deficiency, especially in women and children. This deficiency causes extreme fatigue and body weakness. But iron is good for more than energy and strength levels. It also regulates body temperature, boosts your metabolism, treats insomnia and improves brain function. Iron is also an oxygen carrier, and the transportation of oxygen is essential for every single organ in the body. That’s why iron made my list of top 8 vitamins for travel.
Depending where you are in the world currently (and how much you like seafood), you may or may not be getting enough Omega-3. Our bodies require a healthy balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6. Unfortunately, one without the other is no good, and the foods we commonly eat (grains, eggs, chicken) are high in Omega-6 but not Omega-3.
Omega-3’s are almost exclusively found in seafood and seeds. I don’t know about you, but those are 2 things I almost never indulge in.
They are so important for your brain function, heart health, liver health, and bone and joint health. For me, it was particularly useful in decreasing brain inflammation.
If you love seafood and are living as an expat in Tokyo, you probably don’t have an issue with your Omega-3. But otherwise, you’ll probably need a supplement.
I can’t stress enough how important probiotics are! Especially for travelers. Whether you’re eating something spicy, sketchy, or just downright weird, probiotics are there to save the day! They boost your immune system, improve digestive function and fight food-borne illnesses. It’s like a supplement made for travelers.
I use this one since it came super highly recommended. Do keep in mind, their e-mails can get a bit spammy and I was unable to find this probiotic on Amazon.
What about you? Do you take vitamins on your travels, or leave them at home to save space? Let me know in the comments!
PIN IT TO WIN IT.