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The 9 Best Anti-Inflammatory Supplements of 2021

The 9 Best Anti-Inflammatory Supplements of 2021

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the commercials and conversations around supplements? Have you thought about starting your own supplement routine but you honestly have no clue where to begin?

Great, you’ve come to the right place! Today we will be addressing the best anti-inflammatory supplements, your secret weapon against life’s biggest stressors. 

We’ve already dug deep into the most anti-inflammatory foods on the planet, the most anti-inflammatory breakfast foods, as well as foods that cause inflammation in the body. Cleaning up our nutrition and focusing on fighting inflammation with all-natural,  whole-foods, always needs to be the first priority. However, rarely can we obtain all the essential vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants from food to fight unavoidable, daily inflammation.

So, there is just one major category missing…

The best anti-inflammatory supplements!

Fresh, colorful food can’t be replaced. BUT, there is nothing quite like a high quality, anti-inflammatory supplement to support the positive effects of those foods. 

In a perfect world, our soil quality, sleep, exercise, and stress would be under control every single day. But as you’ve learned by now, that is certainly not the case. As a result, most of us could benefit from incorporating a few quality supplements into our daily routine. For many FWDfuel readers, it has been life-changing.

Now let’s jump in and learn about the BEST anti inflammatory supplements that you need to incorporate TODAY!

Note: please be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any form of nutrition supplementation. It is important to have a provider who knows your unique medical history, symptoms, possible medication interactions etc.

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(Usual disclaimer: FWDfuel Sports Nutrition is a participant in the Emerson Wellevate Associates program as well as the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.)

The Best Anti Inflammatory Supplements

Vitamin D

Perhaps bone health and sunlight is what comes to your mind when you hear “Vitamin D.”

However, here’s a little newsflash…

It is widely recognized that vitamin D plays an important role in the modulation of the inflammatory system. How? The production of inflammatory proteins (cytokines) and immune cells is better regulated when Vitamin D levels are optimized. This is crucial for preventing the development of many immune-related diseases.[1]

In fact, one study showed that individuals with adequate vitamin D levels did not experience the typical inflammatory cascade. Those with subpar vitamin D levels failed to inhibit the inflammatory cascade.[2]

In other words, vitamin D serves as protective armor within the body, a silent warrior if you will. The research continues to surface. Adequate vitamin D levels are crucial when it comes to preventing serious health conditions.[3,4] Sayonara cancer and autoimmune disease!

Eating egg yolks until we are blue in the face might allow for sufficient vitamin D levels. However, this is not feasible. Therefore, is best to supplement with a high-quality supplement. (Especially important for those of us who live in areas of the world with less than optimal sunlight!!)

Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is the best form of vitamin D. D3 is the natural form of vitamin D. It is what our body makes when we are exposed to sunlight. Some of our athletes do not notice a difference with vitamin D supplementation. However, many report improved mood, better sleep, less achy joints/low back pain, and a slight increase in energy. 

There are thousands of vitamin D supplements on the market, but our favorite for health maintenance is the liquid form by Pure Encapsulations (Check Wellevate for the best prices). It is odorless, flavorless, and its tiny size makes it convenient for travel. One drop equals 1000 IU, which is awesome if you would prefer to alter your dosage throughout the season. A few common examples: your doctor has requested 2000 IU for maintenance, but you’d rather bump up to 5000 IU when you are sick. Weeks of intense training and long winters are other common examples that may call for changes in dosing.  

For those with a formal diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency, discuss optimal dosing with your physician. Klean Athlete makes an excellent form of D3. 5,000 IUs can be found in one capsule and Thorne offers 10,000 IU in one capsule. 

Lastly, be sure to take your D3 with a meal as vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fat soluble = best absorbed with a balanced meal.

Pro Tip: You can find both of these products on Amazon, however, our insider secret, AKA, where we buy our supplements is on Wellevate. Wellevate offers professional-grade supplement brands, all screened for quality and processing standards, at the very best prices. FWDfuel readers will receive 20% off all orders and free shipping over $49. Unfortunately, we cannot provide direct links to products with Wellevate, but a quick search (refresh your browser after searching if you have an issue) is all you need to find great products at an amazing price.

If you’d like to learn more or see exactly how to create a Wellevate account, check out this video:

Omega 3 Fish Oil

The ability of omega 3 rich fish oil to fight inflammation is incredibly impressive. Extremely few nutrients have been proven to fight/improve such a wide variety of conditions. Heart disease, depression, joint pain, vision, cognition, obesity, irritable bowel, psoriasis, dermatitis, brain development in infants, asthma, allergies, ADHD, and bone health to name a few. [5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16]

Go ahead, ask any reputable dietitian. What is one supplement that all humans should consider taking, regardless of their health status? Professional grade fish oil! 

It’s important to note that our body cannot manufacture omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA and ALA). Therefore, it is crucial to obtain through diet and supplementation. 

We highly recommend that you speak with your doctor first before beginning any form of supplementation. However, you will find that most research suggests beginning with 1,000-2,000 mg fish oil daily. 

By the way, a client asked a great question this morning.

Why would I supplement with professional-grade fish oil vs. loading up on omega 3-rich fish each day? “

Answer: There is a greater ability to control the amount of mercury and other toxins ingested. In other words, composition consistency is guaranteed.

Also, supplementation is especially helpful for those of us who do not have access to wild-caught fish.  Plus, we work with many individuals who do not care for the taste or texture of salmon, tuna, mackerel etc.

For example, Nordic Naturals, our favorite company, which is also Friend of the Sea certified, uses third-party independent laboratory testing to test each product to ensure freshness, potency, and purity. Nordic Naturals promises no risk of toxicity including heavy metals and even offers a Certificate of Analysis upon request. 

The Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega “burpless” fish oil is our favorite fish oil. This comes in lemon and strawberry flavors, and offers a 1280mg blend of high-quality fish oil.  The best part? The capsules are small, making this fish oil particularly awesome for those who tend to gag. 

As for the athlete on the hunt for an NSF Certified for Sport version, we would recommend the Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega D3 Sport. This product contains 1480 mg of Omega 3 and 1000 IU of vitamin D. Nothing like hitting two birds with one stone!

Posts related to our Best Anti Inflammatory Supplements post:

You know this wouldn’t be a true anti inflammatory supplement article if we didn’t have a greens powder mentioned somewhere!

PaleoGreens by Designs for Health is our #1 pick for a portable, great tasting, powdered vegetable/antioxidant supplement. We highly recommend the lemon lime flavor. Just mix in water for a mid-morning snack or afternoon boost. 

We know that you know how important it is to consume a wide variety of fruits and veggies each day. However is it realistic that each of us consumes the proper amount 7 days a week?? For most of us, sadly, the answer is no. We want you to make colorful veggies your main priority, but on the days that it just doesn’t happen, consider taking a serving of Designs for Health PaleoGreens (Check Wellevate for the best prices).

This powder contains powerful and complex nutrients such as blueberries, spinach, kale, broccoli, camu camu, chlorella, wheatgrass, and spirulina. If anything, give it a try for 30 days and take note of your energy level, bowel habits, and complexion. 

Turmeric

We promise not to beat a dead horse as you’ve likely read The Best Turmeric Supplements to Fight Inflammation. But, turmeric is such a well-researched anti inflammatory agent!! We just can’t get enough. It would be a disservice to ignore turmeric in this outline of the top supplements to fight inflammation.

It is somewhat unbelievable how many articles have been published regarding turmeric’s ability to tackle inflammation in the human body. There is data to support just about every condition. You name it: Joint paint, digestion, Crohn’s Disease, heart disease, depression, cancer, cognition, eczema, It all has the ability to improve with consistent turmeric supplementation.[17,18]

We are constantly asked, “what are the best supplements for inflammation and pain?” Turmeric/curcumin is at the top of the list every time. We’ve had many clients who have been able to gradually stop their pain medications as we ramped up their turmeric supplementation for several weeks. 

Your doctor or dietitian can guide you as to when and how much turmeric is best for you. Although, a very safe, general recommendation would be to take 500-600mg of extended-release turmeric root (curcuma longa) once daily with a balanced meal. If you are someone who feels achy or swollen when waking up in the morning, consider supplementing at dinner.

Our favorite form of turmeric for the non-athlete is Theracurmin HP by Integrative Therapeutics and for all of our athletes out there looking for a high-quality NSF Certified for Sport version, Meriva by Thorne (Check Wellevate for the best prices) is a perfect choice. 

Interested in learning more about the difference between Turmeric or Curcumin and what other turmeric/curcumin supplements are available out there? Check out our post: The Best Turmeric Supplements to Fight Inflammation

Vitamin C

We can’t say enough great things about Vitamin C. It’s one of the best anti inflammatory vitamins of all time as it acts as an immune-boosting antioxidant, it can help our body better metabolize cholesterol and enhance iron absorption to name a few. Plus, we cannot synthesize Vitamin C on our own so it is critical to obtain from food and sometimes supplementation.

Perhaps the most exciting part of all is that most don’t realize that adequate Vitamin C intake can be advantageous for sport.

The primary way Vitamin C may boost exercise performance is through the reduction of inflammation, stress hormones, and oxidative stress. When taken intermittently such as during intense bouts of exercise, this allows for the body to recover more quickly to get back to peak performance sooner than before. Although, please note, if taken daily in high amounts, Vitamin C may hinder performance as small amounts of inflammation from day-to-day training are good and help the body recover and repair.


Support for this theory is provided in a study of the Effect of Vitamin C on Ultra Runners by Peters and Niemen, et al., who found that when taken daily for a week before a race and two days after, cortisol (the body’s biggest stress hormone) and inflammatory markers were decreased. 

In other words, supplementing with Vitamin C after an intense event can really blunt the body’s inevitable cascade of inflammation.

Taking vitamin C after a stressful event -whether you’ve complete an Ironman or are in the ICU with chronic burns- will not completely wipe out the body’s immune response. So, inflammation will be reduced but enough will likely still be present to help repair muscle damage.  This slight reduction in stress and inflammation will allow for a speedier and more full recovery. When we can recover more efficiently, we can regularly train harder which we anticipate will ultimately lead to improved performance. 

What is our favorite form of Vitamin C, you ask? We love Quicksilver Scientific Liposomal Vitamin C. This form is more readily absorbed by the body, easy to digest, and even easier to dose.

To reiterate once more, we don’t want to completely crush the flames of inflammation on a daily basis! We need inflammation to help the body naturally repair our muscles, joints, and ligaments.  We just don’t want an abundance of inflammation floating around in our body for an extended period of time. A major inflammatory burden can reduce the ability of muscles to contract, make tissues more stiff leading to sprains and strains, and weaken cartilage leading to increased joint pain .

In summary, Vitamin C would be best used when run down, sick, or preparing to compete in or recover from an intense event. When dosed at the right time, Vitamin C can serve as a miracle vitamin. However, high doses of daily Vitamin C supplementation is not effective long term. 

Magnesium

So many of us are busy downing magnesium to support a perfect bowel movement and prevent muscle cramps, but very few of us realize magnesium’s capacity to fight inflammation. 

Magnesium reduces the inflammatory marker known as CRP and plays a large role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. This micronutrient is so powerful, that when levels are low, research suggests a very strong link to chronic inflammation – this goes for children as well.[19,20,21]

Recommended supplementation will be different for each individual, with most recommended doses falling between the range of 200-600 mg/day. Wee recommend taking magnesium 1 hour before bed for optimal sleep and relaxation. (Check out Kylene’s magnesium chewables that she uses with the Cleveland Cavaliers!)

If you are more prone to constipation, magnesium citrate is your best option and we recommend Pure Encapsulations Magnesium (Citrate). If you are a Regular Ralph, check out magnesium glycinate (we recommend Pure Encapsulations Magnesium (Glycinate)). Perhaps your doctor has recommended a magnesium blend. If so, we love and personally use the Magnesium 300 by Innate Response which contains a combination of magnesium glycinate, citrate and malate. Check Wellevate for the best prices here.

Nrf2 Activator

If there is one major dictator of oxidative stress and detoxification in our body, it is Nrf2. As you may have read in our previous posts regarding foods that cause inflammation and foods that fight inflammation, free radicals cause us to detoxify more slowly and therefore age more quickly. Ultimately, this will lead to a decline in health. 

Nrf2 is essentially the big controller of our antioxidants. A mentor of ours once said, “Think of Nrf2 as the sprinkler system in your office building. It sits there silently in the shadows until the building catches on fire. If the sprinkler system is adequately filled with water and does not contain any defects, the fire will deescalate appropriately. If the sprinkler is broken, the building will likely burn down.”

By the way, if you want to sound smart at your next party, it is pronounced “nerf-two.”

Our body’s  “sprinkler system” is known as Keap 1. Keap 1 releases Nrf2 and stimulates something called the antioxidant response element (ARE). In other words, Nrf2 is the “water” and free radicals are the “fire”. Also important to note is that Nrf2 makes the enzymes responsible for making, using, and recycling glutathione (see above). Nrf2 also plays a role in the way iron is metabolized in our body.[22]

As practitioners, we’ve seen that clients with variants in their Nrf2 genes tend to battle chronic, obscure inflammatory conditions that are difficult to resolve. Good news though for those who are suffering, the antioxidant resveratrol (berries, the skin of grapes, dark chocolate,) sulforaphane (kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli) turmeric and milk thistle help to enhance Nrf2 activity. Nrf2 Detox by Pure Encapsulations (Check Wellevate for the best prices) is an awesome supplement in order to ensure the ingestion of these critical nutrients. 

It is best to take one capsule of Nrf2 Detox with each meal for a total of three capsules daily. 

Glutathione

Oh hey there mother of all antioxidants! Glutathione is one of the most important and powerful antioxidants in the body. Made from the three amino acids cysteine, glutamate, and glycine, glutathione protects our cells from damage. (Think pollutants, peroxides and metals). This wonder nutrient can also improve metabolic energy.

Glutathione contains sulfur molecules, so eating foods high in sulfur such as eggs, nuts, legumes, chicken and fish can help naturally boost the levels of glutathione in the body. Moral of the story? If you’re looking for an ultra-nutrient to fight stress, illness and aging while enhancing detoxification, look no further than glutathione.

Our favorite dietary supplement for glutathione is Quicksilver Scientific Liposomal Glutathione. (But, be sure to check Wellevate to compare pricing). Quicksilver Scientific’s liposomal formula allows for a more rapid phospholipid delivery into the cells. This helps our body reach the desired level of glutathione more efficiently.

A Multivitamin to Fight Oxidative Stress

For our readers who prefer to stick with minimal supplements, a well-rounded multivitamin is a great start.

While there are a number of awesomely comprehensive multi-vitamins on the market, there is one in particular that successfully targets inflammation and oxidative stress, Phytomulti by Metagenics.

This little miracle worker contains a blend of 13 concentrated extracts and phytonutrients with scientifically tested biological activity to support cellular health. Phytomulti goes beyond basic nutritional support and promotes DNA stability while reversing cellular damage after exposure to oxidative stress. There are very few multivitamins that can offer this type of support.[23] 

If you would like to try Phytomulti by Metagenics, be sure to take with a balanced meal for best absorption. Check Wellevate for the best prices here.

So, What is the Best Anti Inflammatory Supplement of All?

Excellent question. However, while you might not love this answer, it completely depends on your health history, genetics and current goals!!

Anytime you see an article or health expert touting the best natural anti inflammatory supplements or a one size fits all anti inflammatory vitamin for that matter, and they are recommending a specific product(s) for everyone, buyer beware. This concept does not exist because we are all so biologically unique.

For example, someone who is experiencing chronic stress in addition to an exposure issue such as mercury or mold may benefit from glutathione more so than someone who has multiple viral infections and poor bone health. In that case, Vitamin D might be the front runner for this individual. One of the main reasons being that microbes can slow down immune reactivity by dysregulating the VDR receptor (Vitamin D receptor), ultimately to increase the host’s chance of survival.

Take Home Message

In summary, when combined with an anti-inflammatory diet, proper vitamin and mineral supplementation can be a true game-changer when it comes to fighting chronic inflammation. But, instead of going and buying every single supplement mentioned in this article, we encourage you to connect with a functional dietitian to help you map out the best approach for your unique goals and health history. 

If there is anything we have learned in this business, it is that most people do not realize how poorly they actually felt until they finally take the steps towards change and then stay consistent with that change for several months. Rome wasn’t built in a day and therefore your chronic fatigue, sinusitis, joint pain etc. will not disappear in a day. 

And, let’s also be clear on something else…

The best anti-inflammatory supplements will never, ever mask poor sleep habits, lack of meditation, and a highly-processed diet. However, when we slowly chip away at all of these elements over time, we can experience a level of health we never thought to be possible, no matter our age or activity level. 

Ready to take the next step? Check out our posts on 17 Foods That Cause Inflammation in the Body and The 10 Strongest Anti Inflammatory Foods on Earth to learn what foods you should and should not be eating right now.

References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164284/
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120223103920.htm
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470481/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6047889/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3990713
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0924977X03000324
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165178115003844
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20124114
  9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584601002548
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16552404
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221343441300042X
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2893189
  13.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1908631
  14.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14657879
  15.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2563604
  16.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16841861
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852989/
  19.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25023192
  20.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21199787
  21.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21199787
  22.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6538222/
  23. https://www.metagenics.com/mas_assets/media/metagenics/pdf/MET2238-PhytoMulti-Formula-Focus-Sheet.pdf

About The Author

Kylene Bogden

Kylene Bogden is one of the most well respected Functional Sports Dietitians in the United States. As a high school and collegiate sprinter, she experienced recurrent injury and fatigue. After years of constant struggle, she eventually learned that an abundance of processed foods and poor fueling strategies were the root of her performance issues. Kylene's personal journey as an athlete fueled her passion for finding a more progressive approach to sports nutrition. Since then, she has helped thousands of individuals dramatically improve overall health and athletic performance by taking a whole food approach. To learn more about Kylene's story and how a functional nutrition approach can help you to achieve your goals, simply click on the contact us link in the upper right-hand corner today!

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