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Home/Blog/Best Back-to-School Supplements

Best Back-to-School Supplements

By Dr. Josh Axe

August 30, 2022

On the long list of “back to school essentials,” supplements might not seem like an obvious item on the list. But given the stress that high school and college students can place on their bodies and minds, being armed with some key supplements is a sound strategy.

While eating healthy, nutrient-rich diets should be priority No. 1, the college diet, for example, often doesn’t include those daily fruits and veggies. This is where supplements can come in handy.

Teens and college kids require a number of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to perform at their best, both physically and mentally — and, of course, many are still growing, another reason to make sure they’re getting what they need in their diet and supplementation routine.

Which back-to-school supplements are most important to help your kids stay focused and energized? Whether you’re in high school or college yourself (and are an adult 18 years of age or older), or you’re a parent with a teen aged 18 or older at home or who wants to send a “care package” to your favorite 18+ year old, here are the top options. 

As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplementation. 

1. Multivitamin

Why you want it:

Unfortunately, most food grown today comes from nutrient-depleted soil, meaning even healthy foods like fruits and veggies often lack nutrients they used to have. 

Multivitamins typically provide us with most or all “essential” vitamins and minerals, meaning those that we must acquire from our diets to stay healthy. These include vitamins A, C, E, D, and K plus minerals like magnesium, calcium and iron. 

This means that multis can help fill in gaps in our diet by providing vitamins and minerals that may be lacking.

Each nutrient found in multis has its own unique roles, such as helping to support healthy immune system function, growth and development, and bone, muscle and nerve functions. 

(If your child is under 18, look for a multi designed specifically for younger children.)

Best product: 

A Once Daily multivitamin is usually best for high school or college kids 18 years of age or older (basically an adult, but young adult), considering they may be reluctant to take multiple supplements at once. 

They can take Ancient Nutrition’s Once Daily multivitamin formulas (designed for adult males and females) that provide 20 vitamins and minerals as well as superfoods that support overall balance. 

When to take it:

Multis are best taken with a meal to help with absorption, since some vitamins are “fat-soluble” and require some dietary fat to be utilized properly. Have a multi with some water or another beverage, ideally at the same time each day in order to stay consistent.

2. Probiotics

Why you want it:

Did you know that about 75 percent of your immune system is found within your gut? This is one reason why probiotics, “good guy” bacteria that populate our guts, can support immune system health, normal digestion, and healthy microbial balance. 

Adding a probiotic supplement to your daily routine can also help to keep your digestion on track, which may be impacted due to the stress of adjusting to a new school year.

While it’s possible to consume probiotics from fermented foods, such as yogurt or sauerkraut, most of us can benefit from getting even more from a daily supplement.

Some of the benefits of taking a probiotic supplement can include supporting: healthy gut function, normal elimination and healthy immune responses. Probiotics are also helpful for reducing occasional constipation, gas, bloating, flatulence, abdominal distension and discomfort.

In addition, some types of probiotic supplements are formulated specifically to support cognitive health, which ideally will help your 18+ year-old student be in tip-shape for the school year. Some of our SBO probiotic formulas, for example, feature clinically studied ashwagandha root extract, an ingredient that can help support a healthy response to stress and support focus, a healthy memory, mental clarity and concentration.

Best product: 

If you're new to the probiotic supplement category, consider starting with Ancient Nutrition's SBO Probiotics Once Dailies, as you only need to remember to take one capsule per day. 

(For younger children, they will love our deliciously bite-sized SBO Probiotic Kids Gummies, which are made with two probiotic strains for effective gut support. Each berry-flavored gummy provides 5 billion shelf-stable CFUs (*at “best by” date) of probiotics, which is just the right amount to support tiny tummies.)

When to take it:

Take one capsule each day, ideally first thing in the morning with water before you’ve eaten any food. (Children 4 and up can chew 1 gummy per day. For young children, consider breaking the gummy in two parts to help them swallow it more easily.) 

3. Nutrients/Herbs for Immune System Health

Why you want it:

Oftentimes back to school season can be stressful, including for a healthy immune system.  

Which nutrients and herbs can help keep your immune system running smoothly and to promote immune defenses? Among the best are vitamin C, zinc, and the herb called echinacea.

While each one of these has its own functions, together these three can generally help support:

  • Healthy immune function and immune defense

  • Healthy gut-related immunity

  • Healthy antioxidant activity

  • Proper digestion & nutrient absorption

  • Healthy neuron function

Best product: 

Consider our Immune Nutrient Duo, which features vitamin C and zinc + probiotics. These ingredients have been produced in a way that helps optimize absorption, while the inclusion of probiotics supports a generally healthy gut and a healthy immune system.

Meanwhile, our Ancient Herbals Echinacea formula, which also features astragalus, is a powerhouse combo that helps your body stay in balance, supports a healthy inflammation response, and assists in healthy digestion.

When to take it:

Vitamin C and zinc can be taken with or without meals, but it’s best to separate them from other mineral supplements taken in high amounts. Try to take with breakfast or dinner each night.

You can take two capsules of echinacea daily with water or another beverage. Herbs such as echinacea can be taken with or without food.

4. Getting Enough Protein

Why you want it:

Protein is essential for people of all ages for many reasons, such as because it helps to build connective tissues, major organs, bones and muscle mass. 

Young people need protein for growth and development, to support muscle recovery after exercise, and even to concentrate and feel full, since it plays a role in the production of various neurotransmitters and hormones.  

Best product: 

Ancient Nutrition offers several types of delicious protein products that most teens and college students 18+ years and older will love, including Multi Collagen Protein (MCP) powder and Collagen Peptides Gummies, as well as Bone Broth Protein (BBP). 

All of our MCP, Collagen Peptides, and BBP products provide additional benefits beyond just basic protein, since they're full of collagen that supports healthy joints, skin, hair, and gut integrity. BBP also features minerals and other nutrients — including glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid, and more — that support healthy muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and more.

Try these powders — available in vanilla, chocolate, pumpkin spice, strawberry lemonade and other flavors — in delicious recipes (either hot and cold) such as smoothies and shakes, pancakes, oatmeal or baked goods.

If you prefer plant-based protein powders, our Plant Protein+ powder in either vanilla, berry or chocolate makes a great addition to a filling breakfast or snack.

When to take it:

Because protein supplements help support healthy energy levels and assist in exercise and muscle recovery, a great time to take them is in the morning with breakfast, or after sports practice. 

However, just about any time of day is a good option, such as in a healthy smoothie as a snack, or as a low-sugar dessert.

5. Nutrients that Provide Energy & Assist in Focus

Why you want it:

While trying to meet all of your nutrient needs is the best way to stay energized, some nutrients are especially helpful for focus, concentration and physical performance. These include B vitamins (such as B6 and B12), iron and omega-3 fatty acids.

Getting enough B vitamins is important for supporting healthy energy levels because these nutrients help maintain normal counts of red blood cells, support cognitive and neurological functions, support cellular energy production, and play a role in many metabolic processes.

Iron, found in its most absorbable form in high-protein, animal-derived foods, supports cognitive health, healthy sleep, cardiovascular and blood health, and cognitive health.

Omega-3s are healthy fats found in superfoods like wild salmon, nuts and seeds. They play a key role in cardiovascular health, brain function, healthy growth and development, a healthy inflammatory response and more.

Best product: 

Ancient Nutrients B Complex capsule include eight types of B vitamins featured in balanced amounts that are easy to absorb.

When it comes to taking iron, rest assured that Ancient Nutritions Iron is formulated with real food sources, is gentle on the stomach and optimized for absorption with probiotic-fermented vitamin C.

Ancient Omegas Whole Body formula is an omega-3 supplement that makes it easy to provide a balanced serving of different essential fatty acids, including omegas 3s, 6s and 9s.

When to take it:

Iron and B vitamins can be taken either with or without food.

A general recommendation for teens and young adults 18+ years in age is to consume Ancient Nutrition’s Omega supplements in three capsules daily with water or juice. If your child is under 14 years, look for an omega-3 supplement geared speciality towards their age group.

6. Those that Support Restful Sleep

Why you want it:

We all know how important sleep is for feeling sharp and in a positive mood. This applies to both adults and children alike. If you struggle to get good sleep, supplements such as collagen protein and magnesium may help.

Collagen protein is made up of amino acids that can help with production of calming neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. Magnesium, an electrolyte that supports normal muscle function, can help ease tension in the body and also supports normal digestion and many metabolic processes.

Ashwagandha is another herbal supplement that young adults can consider taking to support a healthy response to stress, healthy energy levels and restful sleep.

Best product: 

As a healthy bedtime snack, try making up a smoothie made with Multi Collagen Beauty + Sleep, which is formulated to promote restful sleep and a calm, relaxed state of mind. 

MCP Beauty + Sleep is made with collagen plus magnesium and a blend of powerful superfoods to pack in sleep, skin, joint and energy support benefits.

When to take it:

Mix one serving of MCP Beauty + Sleep with frozen banana and blueberries, or a bit of vanilla extract and cocoa, to make a tasty and healthy dessert to enjoy after dinner.

If you take magnesium, take 1–2 capsules at night with water before bed.

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