Dietary supplement – The use of supplements to support quality health has become quite popular over the last several decades. Supplements can be vitamins, minerals, herbal formulas, or natural hormones. The question most people have is if they really need a supplement, and if so, which ones. Supplements, of course, are never a substitute for choosing lots of healthy veggies, fruits, clean protein, grains, and nuts as your daily diet. Where they can be helpful is for optimizing the diet of even the healthiest person by adding nutrients that may be missing in your food or giving your body the vitamins and compounds it can’t naturally make.
Here are just a few reasons why adding just 7 supplements to a healthy diet can optimize your nutrition:
- Replenish Nutrients Lost in Food – Modern agricultural techniques can often lead to soils that are depleted in vital nutrients. Adding supplements to a healthy diet can both enhance the nutrient density of your food and add vitamins and minerals the body can’t make.
- Increase Longevity and Reduce Aging – Who among us wants to live our Golden Years combating disease, body aches, and lack of energy? Adding critical supplements to your diet can dial back the aging process by lowering whole-body inflammation, protecting your mitochondria, and supporting proper immune functions.
- Reduce Effects of Environmental Pollutants – Toxic chemicals in our air, water, and even the soil that grows our food depletes our body of anti-oxidants. Air pollution in particular can damage every organ of our body and daily exposure to pollutants can cause head-to-toe harm. Adding a few body-saving supplements to our diet can help combat this harm.
- Improve on a Vegan/Vegetarian Diets – Most people on a vegan or vegetarian diet can get low energy and possibly immune dysfunction. Boosting the nutrient level of a vegan/vegetarian diet can add to its multitude of benefits.
What are the 7 Essential Supplements for Vibrant Health?
Narrowing down the list of supplements you’ll want to take most days can, at first, seem like a daunting task with the hundreds of products to choose from. However, if you truly are sticking with a healthy diet every day, getting fresh air and exercise, and maintaining a good sleep schedule then there really is only 7 supplements that are necessary to keep you active in life and on a winning course for vibrant wellbeing.
1) Vitamin B Complex – The B vitamin complex is made up of 8 different compounds: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12). You have probably heard about why you need Vitamin B12, but all these B vitamins are necessary for the body to convert protein and sugar to energy, allow neurotransmitters to work properly, repair cells and muscles, and regulate metabolism. The vitamin B complex, especially Vitamin B6, have a very large impact on mental health. Most people get plenty of B vitamins in their diet, but if you are a vegetarian or eat limited protein, are an older adult, or have a genetic condition that lowers your body’s ability to process vitamin B, then you probably want to take a daily B complex vitamin.
2) Vitamin D3 — You probably heard your parents tell you to go outside and play to get a dose of Vitamin D. It’s called the “sunshine” vitamin because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Too much time indoors can limit our manufacturing of this critical vitamin and to make things worse, you don’t get Vitamin D from food. Only the body makes this very critical compound! This is probably why there is an astounding level of Vitamin D deficiency, at almost 50% of the population. A sufficient level of Vitamin D is important for gut health, decreased inflammation, mineral absorption, a healthy immune system and strong bones.
3) Omega-3 Oils – Our body is quite the remarkable manufacturer of fats and can make most of the types of fats it needs, such as cholesterol, from the food we eat. Omega-3 oils are a type of fat your body can’t make and that is why they are called an essential nutrients. They have very important roles to play in your body such as making sure your cells membranes healthy, helping to prevent inflammation and heart disease, giving you more energy, improving gut health and supporting your emotional wellbeing. A diet that is rich in fish protein gives you most of your needed Omega-3s but if you aren’t a fish eater, you probably need to be taking an Omega-3 oil supplement. You can have a very healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies but you’ll need to boost up your Omeg-3s for a truly balanced diet.
4) Glutathione – This powerhouse of a supplement is considered the Master Antioxidant and is a small protein. It is called the Master Antioxidant because other antioxidants such a vitamin C, vitamin E, and CoQ10 need glutathione. Glutathione protects the “batteries” of your cells, called mitochondria, and makes sure environmental toxins, organic toxins, and even normal oxidative byproducts of making energy don’t damage the mitochondria. There are not that many foods that naturally have glutathione and those levels can be affected by how the food is stored and cooked. A daily dose of glutathione will help even the healthiest people maintain energy, prevent pre-mature aging, and clear toxins from the body.
5) Probiotic – Probiotics became an essential supplement about 2001 following the work of researchers who were able to genetically determine the types of bacteria that live in your gut. The gut microbiome is a complex mix of about 3 TRILLION organisms….. bacteria, fungi, viruses and other creatures. Over the last few decades, the science community has made remarkable progress in showing the KEY to sustaining good health is to start with a healthy gut. Even the healthiest eaters are not usually getting what they need to support a healthy gut microbiome because food has become too “sterile”, stress greatly impacts the gut, and any kind of medication, especially antibiotics, will throw the gut off balance. A daily probiotic supplement is a simple way to support having adequate levels of good bacteria in your gut.
6) Magnesium: Magnesium is quite abundant in green, leafy vegetables like spinach and in certain seeds such as pumpkin and flax. This mineral is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Among many of its functions, magnesium supports a healthy immune system, regulates heartbeat, maintains normal muscle and nerve function, and helps keep your bones strong. While true magnesium deficiency is uncommon, magnesium INSUFFIENCY is more common, meaning people are not consuming enough to meet the RDA. Even really healthy eaters can have a magnesium issue because of the way industrial food is grown, in a manner that makes them less nutrient-rich.
7) Curcumin – One of the most well-studied, natural anti-inflammatory compounds comes from the Indian spice turmeric. Curcumin is the active compound of turmeric and is such a strong anti-inflammatory herb that its potency has been matched with some manufactured drugs. You would only find curcumin in Indian food, such as curries, but at too low a level to be helpful to your body. That is why curcumin needs to be taken as a supplement to provide the levels needed to fight inflammation. Scientists believe that most people have chronic, low-level inflammation and that this condition plays a role in almost every chronic disease. Why wouldn’t you want to include this amazing herb in your diet every day!
Adding These 7 Vital Supplements to Your Diet
Now that you’ve read about the 7 dietary supplements that should be a part of every health plan, the next step is to decide which brand and how much of each supplement to take. If you walk down the supplement aisle in your local grocery store, it is truly overwhelming to look at the hundreds of bottles awaiting your choice. Do you take it in capsule form, tablet or liquid preparation? How much is too much or too little? Can it stay on the kitchen counter or does it need to be in the refrigerator? Let’s take the guesswork out of it for you and give some examples of top supplement brands.
1) Vitamin B Complex – A Vitamin B complex supplement contains all 8 of the B vitamins and although they share similar properties, each of the B vitamins are unique in their function. First, a Vitamin B complex should contain methylcobalamin because it is the most active form of B12. NEVER take a B complex that has folic acid as B9 needs to be either in a folate or methyl folate form. Limit the level of niacin to 14 mg per dose to prevent what is called “niacin flush” which causes you to feel hot and sweaty. Similarly, limit the dose of Vitamin B6 to 100 mg or less per day. You can take a Vitamin B6 Supplement as a capsule, such as this one from Nordic Naturals or in liquid form. Quicksilver Scientific has a great liposomal Vitamin B complex.
2) Vitamin D – The recommended form of Vitamin D is called cholecalciferol and on the supplement bottle it will say Vitamin D3. This is the same, natural form of Vitamin D that your skin makes from sunlight. You may also see a variety of Vitamin D3 that has include Vitamin K2, and the reason for that is these two vitamins work well together to balance calcium for better bones and heart health. As we discussed earlier, so many people have a Vitamin D insufficiency or dietary supplement and a daily dose of 25 mcg (1,000 IU) will help get your Vitamin D3 tissue levels in the proper range. Nordic Naturals has a really good soft capsule form and if your prefer a liquid form, Thorne has one that also includes Vitamin K2.
3) Omega-3 Oils – There are dozens of companies that make all sorts of combinations of omega-3 oils but one main factor to consider is the ratio of the different kinds of omega-3 fatty acids. Earlier we talked about how omega-3 oils are actually 3 kinds of fatty acids: EPA, DHA, and DPA. An omega-3 supplement will contain all three of these fatty acids but for the best health results, you want to choose a supplement that has a 2:1 ratio of EPA: DHA. Studies have shown that this fatty acid ratio is better at reducing inflammation. Here is a picture of the dietary supplement label from our favorite omega-3 formulation, Mega Omega from Microbiome Lab. You can see it has both the proper ratio of EPA to DHA and includes the essential DPA fatty acid.
4) Glutathione – Glutathione is a tricky compound because it is destroyed by the acids in your small intestines when taking it in a powder form. To overcome this issue, the best dietary supplement or glutathione supplement comes as a liposomal preparation which allows the glutathione to be protected in the gut. There are also topical and oral preparations of glutathione but note this supplement has a strong, sulfur smell when applied on the skin. Quicksilver Scientific makes a really good liposomal version and also a pump bottle to take a dose under your tongue. It is a lemon-mint flavor which gives it a pleasant taste.
5) Probiotics – This supplement can get really confusing when trying to choose the right one because everybody’s gut is different. In addition, there are both brands that need refrigeration and ones that don’t, and the potency of a probiotic can vary widely. Unless you have a specific health condition and are being advised by a doctor, you don’t need to take a probiotic that has really high levels of bacteria. A formula with 3,000-5,000 colony forming units (cfu…refers to bacteria count) is sufficient and one really great company is Microbiome Laboratory that makes a special formula that also helps with gut inflammation.
6) Magnesium – Magnesium supplements can be a little confusing as a dietary supplement because there are so many different formulations, such as glycinate, citrate, threonate, sulfate, and oxide. So, which one do you choose? Magnesium glycinate is one of the best forms because it is highly absorbable by the body and has the added bonus of giving you a calming effect. It comes in both liquid and capsule form. A really good brand of magnesium glycinate can be found at Thorne.
7) Curcumin – An essential aspect of buying curcumin is that it needs to be mixed with black pepper to enhance its absorption by the body. When you look at a curcumin bottle, you will want to see a name like BioPerine or piperine included in the formula as a dietary supplement, which is just an extract of black pepper. There is a threshold dose of 1,000 mg per day with curcumin for it to be effective in reducing inflammation. Pure Encapsulation has the right combination of curcumin with BioPerine in their formula.
It is usually best to take a certain dietary supplement, like the Vitamin B complex, with food to prevent getting an upset stomach. However, glutathione should be taken without food, such as first thing in the morning before breakfast. Probiotics are usually best taken at night before bedtime and without food, but curcumin, omega-3 oils, magnesium glycinate, and vitamin D3 can be taken at any time in the day.
Taking a dietary supplement is never a substitute (or excuse) for following a healthy diet, getting exercise and fresh air, and taking time each day to destress. Even the healthiest people, however, have reasons for taking a few supplements each day. These 7 dietary supplement will help you maintain your healthy lifestyle and will help make sure you are greeting each day with vibrant energy and wellbeing.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.