A Backpacker’s 5 Essential Nutritional Supplements

I am not a doctor and I am not a dietician; but I am a health nut whose body is both well read and well fed when it comes to nutrition. Sporadic dining times, inability to preserve and prepare meals, and unavailability of certain foods all make keeping your body ‘in check’ very difficult whilst on the road. I have been the victim of severe constipation in Argentina, suffered near dehydration in Bolivia, and found myself biting into many a fast food meal deal which I would normally avoid like the plague. Whilst eating unknown food sources may be a necessity in some instances, especially if on a tight budget or timeline. I will always make sure that my daily diet is supplemented by the following 5 items:

1) Multi-Vitamin

Wash one of these down every morning with a pint of water; no questions asked. More accurately, I’ve taken advice from Mark Hyman’s The Ultramind Solution, in which the M.D. points out the importance of it being “a high-quality, high-potency, highly bioavailable broad spectrum multivitamin, which contains all the basic vitamins and minerals.” Look for a tablet that covers the whole A-Z of nutrients and including B12 and B6 and folate.

2) Omega 3 Fish Oil

These fatty acids are very important in preventing and managing heart disease as they lower blood pressure, reduce the likelihood of heart attack and strokes – but despite this 99% of Americans are deficient in essential omega 2 (Hyman, pp. 306). It can be difficult to get high quality fish on the road, especially if you are not travelling near a coastline, and is most definitely not the type of food source you want to be carrying about in a backpack beside your clothing, no matter how long it has been since you last did laundry.

3) Green Tea

This is full or antioxidants; more specifically, catechins. These lower cholesterol and improve blood flow which helps protect against cell damage and blood sugar levels rising too high. I usually drink one cup with breakfast and one in the evening before bed.

4) Garlic Extract

Not only is garlic a fantastic vampire repellent but it also helps boost your immune system. And don’t worry, the extract tablets are odourless.

5) Vitamin K

This essential vitamin can be found lurking in leafy cruciferous greens such as broccoli and spinach, food types not usually appearing as popular cuisine on the menus of Asian restaurants or South American diners. These vegetables also don’t keep long so searching for high quality produce in supermarkets is unlikely to yield much success. Short of being a Peter Rabbit and sneaking into a local Mr McGregor’s garden, a dose of vitamin K supplement should keep you going until back in more familiar cuisine shopping territory.

I would like to reiterate – I am not supplying proven medical advice, simply an insight into what supplements you might wish to consider when packing for your next adventure. I am constantly trying to improve my diet so if there are any supplements which I have not mentioned and that you find particularly useful or effective then please leave a comment below.


One Comment on “A Backpacker’s 5 Essential Nutritional Supplements”

  1. Not finding vitamin K on other lists but my biggest concern (and why I’m looking into nutrition) is replacing the leafy greens that are a major part of my diet, so thanks, makes great sense.

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