As a health practitioner, the question that I am asked the most often is, “What supplements should I be taking every single day?” While it is ideal to get the majority of our nutrients, vitamins and minerals from our whole food, mostly plant-based diets, the reality is that there are certain nutrients that the majority of us do not get enough of in our day-to-day lives – regardless of what we are eating. Therefore, the majority of us should really be taking advantage of certain high-quality supplements in order to avoid depletion of these vital nutrients – even if you do not consider yourself to be a big supplement person.
Of course, there are supplements that I recommend to different clients for different reasons. Not everyone’s supplement regimen will always look the same because we are all experiencing a variety of health issues on any given day. But there are certainly a handful of supplements that I suggest to about 90% of the people who I work with, regardless of the health concerns that they are facing. In fact, I take certain supplements daily myself as well. I use the following list of supplements as my ‘base’ and I rotate others in occasionally depending on what my body is craving.
Probiotics are super important for overall health. They include healthy living microorganisms that produce beneficial properties within our digestive system. They support the gut microbiome, which can have a positive effect on many different aspects of health and are integral for immunity. Approximately 70-80% of your immune system lives in your gut. The addition of probiotics increases defense against exposure to bad bacteria and illness-causing germs. A lack of good bacteria leaves you susceptible to colds, flus, infections, and even more serious illnesses.
Because gut health is so integral to overall health, I recommend a probiotic for most people. You can attempt to get the same benefits that a supplement provides from probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, yogurt and kombucha, but the truth of the matter is that most people are not eating enough of these foods and should probably introduce a supplement into their regimen. The probiotic that I am currently taking (and loving!) is Genuine Health 50 Billion.
Magnesium is another supplement that I recommend to pretty much everyone because it is crucial for so many bodily functions and the majority of people are deficient in it. Magnesium is partially responsible for insulin secretion, blood glucose control and nerve and muscle function, just to name a few. The mineral supplement also boasts the powers of providing the body with energy, making protein and DNA, improving sleep, calming muscle tension, regulating the transport of calcium, and maintaining a normal heart rhythm. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in every single tissue in the human body.
And what many people do not realize is that magnesium is also critical for processes related to the mind. Magnesium is essential for mood regulation and stress resistance. It helps maintain the body’s stress-response by controlling hormones that reduce or elevate stress. So, it is safe to say that we should definitely make sure we are getting enough of it.
3. Vitamin D
I do not know who needs to hear this, but even if you live in a sunny state, you probably need to be supplementing with vitamin D! You would need to have around twenty consecutive minutes of sun exposure per day without sunscreen in order to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D and foods fortified with vitamin D are often considered insufficient to satisfy the daily requirements. This vitamin influences many bodily processes, including energy, immune function, mood, memory and muscle recovery, so it is essential that we are not lacking in it.
4. Omega 3
One of the main health benefits of fish are omega-3’s. Two specific forms of omega-3: EPA and DHA, found almost exclusively in fish, are likely responsible for its superior health benefits. They have been found to drastically decrease inflammation, increase HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind that scavenges excess cholesterol in the blood), and help maintain brain function. In fact, up to fifty percent of fatty acids in the brain are made up of DHA.
Unfortunately, I do not trust most fish or fish oil supplements these days as many fish are riddled with toxins like mercury. Instead, I consume wild caught fish occasionally and maintain my omega 3 levels with a supplement that I trust. I love Nordic Naturals EPA Xtra or Nordic Naturals Algae Omega for those who do not consume fish.
I also take a multivitamin daily to make sure I am covering all of my bases. I know it can be super overwhelming trying to find the best one for you since there are thousands of multivitamins on the market these days. One rule of thumb for finding the right multi is that it is natural and not synthetic. A simple trick I use for finding a high-quality natural multivitamin is making sure the label on the package includes at least one of these phrases: “Whole food multivitamin,” “All ingredients derived from whole foods,” or “Derived from whole, organic fruits and vegetables.”
You should also opt for the multivitamin with the LONGEST list of ingredients (I know, this is the one situation where I recommend this strategy). Just take care that the ingredient list does not include fillers or additives. And raw options are typically best. I personally love Pure Synergy Multivitamins. They have a general Multivitamin, a Vitamin Herb Women’s Multivitamin, and a Vitamin Herb Multi for Men and think they are all fantastic.
6. Vitamin K2
People often confuse vitamin K2 with vitamin K1, so they assume that they are getting enough of it since vitamin K is readily available in many of the foods we consume regularly. However, vitamin K2 and vitamin K1 are definitely not the same. Vitamin K2 is responsible for guiding calcium – making sure it is ushered to the correct parts of our bodies like bone and keeping it out of soft tissues.
Dietary intake of K2 has been associated with brain health, reduce cancer risk, increased insulin sensitivity and more. Vitamin K2 is found foods that are uncommon to most westerners such as natto – fermented soybeans that are commonly served in Japan.
The vitamin K2 supplement that I take every day is Ortho Molecular Vitamin K2 & D3.
7. B12 (Especially for Vegans)
Vitamin B12 is crucial for many bodily processes such as energy production, heart health, brain health and improved mood. It used to be readily available in soil, but, due to modern farming practices, it is not as prevalent anymore – especially for those consuming a plant-based diet. That is why it is absolutely imperative for all vegans to consume a B12 supplement.
I love Pure Encapsulations and Thorne. Whichever B12 supplement you purchase, be sure that it is in the form of methylcobalamin and not one of the other forms because the former is much more easily absorbed by the body.
Please keep in mind that I am not being paid by any of these supplement companies – I just highly recommend them and have seen a significant amount of benefits in taking them myself. I also recommend speaking with your doctor before you start any new supplements.