What are the Most Important Supplements to Take to Stay Young and Healthy?

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Hi Friend!

If you have ever consulted the web about which supplements you should take, you were no doubt bombarded with TONS of information. Not only are there so many different types, it is also common to find conflicting information which can make this huge world of supplements even more confusing! When I work with patients one-on-one, I develop a holistic plan and combination of supplements that will support each person’s unique needs. However, after seeing the same needs in many of my patients, I have compiled my list of essential supplements that anyone could benefit from and I’m here to share it with you.

Why do we need to supplement anyway? Why is it important?

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get all the wonderful nutrients we need from our food these days. Our soil has become depleted, which means we are getting less of those basic minerals and vitamins from our food. Certain foods have been bred to look appealing, rather than maintain their nutrient benefits and have less to offer. Not only that, but agricultural practices have created a toxic load in our environment, and in the food itself. Pesticides are found in so many of our food sources, along with other chemicals, additives, and fillers.

Increased levels of stress can also cause the body to require more good-quality fuel to keep our brains and bodies performing up to par. To make matters worse, our stressed-out society often turns to highly processed foods because of convenience or the instant feel-good effects of junk food. These foods, often mindlessly gobbled down on the run, have little to offer in terms of nutrition, deplete our good resources, and can cause all kinds of health issues.

Because of our often energy-dense, nutrient-deficient diets, it can be easy to slide into less-than-ideal health. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause symptoms that diminish the quality of life such as fatigue, insomnia, low libido, depression, inflammation, hormone imbalances, digestive troubles, and poor immune function. Supplementation can make an incredible difference with these and other issues and heal the body at the same time!

Who is at greatest risk to have vitamin and mineral deficiencies?

Do most of your meals come from the frozen aisle of the grocery or the take-out down the street? Processed and fast foods are unlikely to have sufficient nutritional benefits, so if your diet is high in these types of foods you are likely not getting adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, healthy fats, and other nutrients. In addition to some lifestyle changes, supplements will help you get back on track. Vegetarians, vegans, or others on restrictive diets will also require supplements to feel their very best. While many people start these diets for health reasons, it can be difficult to get all the vitamins and proteins as the body needs. Supplements can help you get a better balance without having to sacrifice your diet choices. Unfortunately, many who suffer from chronic conditions or digestive issues will also need to fortify their diets with some superpower supplements. The body will need extra help to fight the issues at hand, and some conditions may diminish the body’s ability to make the best of the food it gets. These cases can require a little more detective work so if you fall into this category, make sure to book a consult with me to address your unique needs. For those of us on pharmaceuticals, it is important to check which vitamins or minerals might be impacted by our medications. Many medications on the market today will deplete certain vitamins or may inhibit the absorption of them. Use this drug-interaction checker to see which vitamins or minerals your medication may be affecting. During different times in our lives, we will need the extra help of certain nutrients. A pregnant woman, for example, will need increased amounts of many vitamins and minerals (such as folate or folic acid), and anyone experiencing an illness or disorder will want to supplement in certain areas to keep their body as healthy as possible. Older adults also benefit greatly from supplements. As we age, our ability to extract vitamins and minerals from our food diminishes as our digestive systems weaken. Providing the body with extra nutrients will ensure you have the best chance of staying healthy in the long-term.

The 7 Most Important Supplements I Recommend to My Patients:

1. High Quality Multivitamin

Vitamins and minerals are essential for life and the right balance can mean the difference between wellness and illness. Every one of our cells need them for their various functions and without them, things start to, well….go wrong. Nutritional deficiencies result and that can spiral into variety of disorders and diseases and that can all be prevented with something as simple as a multivitamin. The good thing about a great multivitamin is that it contains a combination of vitamins and minerals all in one easy pill. You can take a load off your nutritional deficits just by adding in a multi. A good-quality multivitamin will be derived from whole food sources, so it is like supercharging your dietary intake. Multivitamins can be general, age-specific, gender-specific, or results-specific such as joint health, brain health, or a hair-skin-nails. Daily multivitamin consumption is a great way to make up for nutritional shortfalls and a simple solution to boost your health naturally.

2. Omega 3 Fish Oil

Fat has gotten a bad rap ever since the 1960’s when people thought that fat was causing issues such as heart disease. A low-fat or fat-free diet became not only a recommendation for those suffering from poor health, but was considered a healthy diet for anyone to follow.

Many years and research studies later, we have found that not all fat is bad – some fats are not only good for us but essential for healthy brain and cardiovascular function. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly helpful and can ward off depression, dementia, and arthritis. When it comes to heart health, they are superheroes. They lower blood pressure, reduce the development of plaque in arteries, and reduce triglycerides which translates to a much lower risk of heart attacks and strokes.

To get more omega-3’s, we need to boost certain foods in our diet and supplement. Salmon is an excellent source of this healthy fat, as well as mackerel, herring, sardines, lake trout, and tuna. The American Heart Association recommends 2 servings per week of these sources to boost your omega-3 intake.

How Much?
For some, it can be difficult to make fish a regular part of the diet so a fish-oil supplement is an easy fix. Usually 1-2 grams in supplement form is recommended, but talk to your doctor if you already have heart disease or high triglyceride levels.

My Pick:
Nordic Naturals – Nordic Omega 3 Fishies

3. Vitamin D3

While vitamin D is known for its role in creating strong bones and teeth, it is also needed for normal immune, cardiovascular, lung, and nervous system functions. It has shown to protect against cancers, Type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. It can even help boost our moods, regulate menstrual cycles, and enhance our fertility.

Despite the name, vitamin D is considered a pro-hormone and is not actually a vitamin. Whereas vitamins are nutrients that cannot be created by the body and therefore must be taken in through our diet, D3 is not widely available in the diet but is actually created when our bodies are exposed to sunlight.

A regular, quick bask in the sun – say 5-10 minutes or so – a few times a week can help most people to produce a sufficient amount of vitamin D to keep things running. But these stores run low quickly so it is important to supplement during times that sunlight is harder to come by, such as in the winter months. Adding in vitamin D can make a huge difference when it comes to the winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

How Much?
2000 IU’s daily.

My Pick:
Garden of Life Raw D3 Supplement

4. Calcium Citrate

When you think of calcium, you likely think of bone health. And that’s true – calcium strengthens bones and helps prevent disorders like osteoporosis and rickets. But calcium is required for many body systems, so much so that it has its very own moderator – the parathyroid- that keeps calcium blood levels in check.  It is needed for nerve function, muscle contractions (including your most important muscle movement, your heartbeat), weight management, and others. It is the most abundant mineral found in the body, yet many of us are still deficient in calcium.

Calcium is found naturally in foods like seeds, nuts, beans, yogurt/kefir, cheese, salmon, broccoli, collard greens, book choy, and tofu. In addition to including more of these foods in your diet, you may need to add in a calcium supplement to make sure your body has plenty to go around. This is especially important if you are prone to bone issues or pregnant.

How Much?
800mg per day.

My Pick:
Rainbow Light – Calcium Citrate Whole-Food Supplement

5. Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium, like calcium, is important for all kinds of jobs in the body. Things like muscle and nerve function, blood sugar maintenance, blood pressure regulation, and protein/bone/DNA synthesis all require magnesium.

How would you know if you need to supplement with magnesium? You might be experiencing muscle aches or spasms, anxiety, trouble sleeping, or digestive issues. Your PMS symptoms could be getting worse, you may notice more frequent headaches or mood swings.

There are several types of magnesium supplements out on the market, but my first choice is magnesium glycinate. This is because it is the most easily-absorbed version, and is very gentle on the stomach. It has far fewer adverse effects (like loose stools or tummy troubles) than other forms of magnesium. Magnesium is great paired with your calcium supplements, as it helps to balance out levels of calcium in the blood.

How Much?
600mg daily.

My Pick
Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate

6. Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10

While the previous supplements we’ve discussed have been vitamins and minerals, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is our first antioxidant. Every single cell in our body needs CoQ10 and, although we produce CoQ10 in the body naturally, levels decrease as we age or if we are fighting issues like heart disease or fibromyalgia. Adding in a supplement can help your body fight the aging process and maintain healthy cells.

Antioxidants have become quite popular as research has found that they can help repair cells, prevent against toxin damages, act as anti-inflammatories, lower risk of infection, and protect against some cancers. There are many food sources of antioxidants (think berries and green tea) but supplementing will make a huge difference.

How Much?
There is no official recommendation on CoQ10 dosage. Daily serving size can vary from 30mg up to 1000mg, but most will benefit with about a 200mg dose. If you are taking statin medication or have specific health concerns, contact your doctor about your specific recommended dose.

My Pick:
Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb

7. Broad Spectrum Probiotic

Probiotics are game changers when it comes to many digestive, hormonal, or nervous system issues. Our guts are largely comprised of bacteria that help us to digest our food and maintain normal body functions.

Taking a regular probiotic will keep this helpful microbiome in balance. This supports the good gut bacteria that we love, and minimizes the bad bacteria that makes us sick. As a result, your gut-brain connection will thrive and your immune system will grow stronger. Probiotics help to prevent issues like leaky-gut syndrome and hormone imbalances which means happier moods, regular and comfortable digestion, less fatigue, healthier skin, and fewer immune, auto-immune, and inflammatory issues like frequent colds, arthritis, food allergies, or psoriasis.

How Much?
The dosing recommendations for probiotics is as wide and varied as the types of probiotics on the market. My general recommendation is 50 billion CFU.

My Pick:
Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Once Daily Women’s Probiotic

Create Your Supplement Toolbox

Supplements can be a great way to enhance your health, but like anything should be done safely and with the go-ahead of a qualified health professional. In general, try to avoid anything in your supplements that you would avoid in your food as well – artificial sweeteners, added colors, flavorings, preservatives, fillers, etc… are unwelcome! Make sure to consider your age, size, gender, and any active health issues to determine which supplements to take. Last, but definitely not least, make sure to give your body a head start by keeping your diet healthy and balanced with as many whole-food sources of these nutrients as possible. Your supplements should act as a helping hand, not carry the whole show! Hopefully this list of my favorite essential supplements has given you the confidence to move forward with finding a supplement regimen for your path to brilliant health. If you have any questions about any of these recommendations, or would like to find out which supplements, herbs, and diet changes will help you to feel your best, contact me for a free consultation.

Hi! I'm Angela

Acupuncturist, Herbalist, Integrative Wellness Consultant and Mood-Gut expert.

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