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Travel buddies: the 6 best vitamins and supplements to take on your trip

There are few experiences as liberating--and stressful--as travel. Whether you prefer to plan every last detail or leave space for spontaneity, one thing that shouldn’t be left to chance is your personal health. The right vitamins and supplements can make the perfect travel companions.

With so much to consider leading up to your big trip, the last thing you want to think about is your vitamin regimen. From stress to sleep, we've made this easy guide to help address common issues that can arise when you're on the go. Whether you are traveling for business or going off-the-grid, here are six of the top vitamins and supplements for feeling your best on any trip.

1. Ready for takeoff: increase energy with rhodiola

Rhodiola, also known as Rhodiola rosea, is a botanical supplement that has been used for centuries as part of traditional medicine in Eastern Europe and Asia. Not only will it help you feel more alert and decrease stress, it can also improve your mood. This combination makes rhodiola an unbeatable travel companion.

In a 2016 study from The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, rhodiola supplementation was also shown to improve endurance while exercising, as well as assist in recovery afterwards. This is an added bonus if your vacation plans include strenuous activity like hiking, skiing, or surfing.

2. Rise and shine: magnesium can help improve your sleep

Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, and it is involved in over 300 different biochemical reactions. Your body uses magnesium for muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and energy production.

Magnesium is also well-known for its potential to improve sleep quality. In a 2012 study published by the National Institute of Health, magnesium was shown to improve symptoms of insomnia. Consider packing a magnesium supplement if you experience difficulty sleeping, or if recharging is a goal for your getaway--it could be the key to deep sleep.

Worried about burning the candle at both ends? Traveling for work can mean a packed schedule from the early wake-up call to a business dinner where the drinks are flowing. A magnesium supplement could be especially important when consuming caffeine and alcohol, both of which deplete the body’s magnesium levels.

3. Fly at ease: elderberry increases immunity for travelers

It is no secret that the conditions of a crowded airport or plane cabin can be ideal for spreading the cold and flu. The inconvenience of a cold is magnified when you are far from the comforts of home. After planning and investing in a trip, don’t let a cold take away from the experience.

Elderberries contain a powerful antioxidant, and their history of medicinal use date back to the time of Hippocrates. According to an Australian study on international travelers in 2016, taking an elderberry supplement can be an excellent preventative measure against illness when traveling. In this study, the travelers who took an elderberry supplement suffered fewer colds, shorter cold durations, and less severe symptoms than those taking a placebo.

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4. Vitamin D supports general health & immunity

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin with many critical roles in the body, such as promoting bone health, supporting muscular function, and reducing inflammation. Vitamin D is known to be produced from exposure to the sun. However, there are many factors that impact your body's ability to naturally synthesize vitamin D, including the season, cloudiness, smog levels, your skin’s melanin content, and your use of sunscreen.

According to a 2009 article published by Scientific American, an estimated 77% of Americans have insufficient levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency--which is more severe than insufficient intake--can increase your likelihood of heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and infectious disease. Vitamin D is especially important for travelers because of its role in strengthening the immune system.

If you are traveling to a warm climate and expect to spend lots of time catching rays, then vitamin D probably isn’t necessary. However, if you will be mostly indoors, or headed to a cooler climate, consider packing vitamin D to support immunity.

5. Travel in comfort: probiotics can ease digestive issues

Did you know that the average human has just as many bacterial cells as it does human cells? Recently, scientists have begun to gain a much deeper understanding of the importance of probiotics (also known as “beneficial” or “good” bacteria), especially relating to digestive health.

According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 60 to 70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases. While it is well-known that jet lag will disrupt your sleeping patterns, it can also affect your digestive system and appetite.

Traveling can take people away from their normal eating habits, which can be especially problematic for those with digestive issues and food sensitivities. Studies have shown that probiotics are effective against digestive disorders like constipation, Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Even if digestive issues aren’t a primary concern for you, probiotics could still be useful. According to a 2006 study published by the National Institute of Health, probiotic consumption also enhances the immune system, and decreases the prevalence of allergies.

6. Ashwagandha: the ancient stress remedy

Simply imagining a major disruption to your travel schedule can be enough to trigger stress--let alone an actual missed flight or lost luggage. With ashwagandha, an ancient remedy that has been used for over 3,000 years, you’ll be ready to handle unwelcomed surprises without losing your cool.

In traditional Indian medicine, ashwagandha is praised for its ability to help the body adapt to stress, and Western medicine has taken notice more recently. In a 2012 clinical trial, ashwagandha was shown to reduce blood levels of cortisol, which is known as the “stress hormone.” Participants in this study also reported a significant reduction in the stress they experienced after 60 days, when compared to the placebo group.

Similar to rhodiola, ashwagandha can also improve muscular endurance. In a 2015 study, ashwagandha was also shown to improve muscle strength gains from exercise.

Personalized vitamins and supplements: the focused approach to wellness

Adding vitamins and supplements to your travel routine are a minor change that can have a major impact. Whether you are traveling for work or taking a break from the grind, these six supplements can help you get the most out of your trip.

The key to choosing supplements is understanding what works best for your individual lifestyle and health goals. There are a wide range of variables that influence your unique nutritional needs, including your diet, sleep and exercise routines, location and gender. For more personalized recommendations on vitamin and supplement intake, consider taking a convenient online health survey.

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