More than half of all Americans take some form of dietary supplement on a regular basis. Why are so many of us taking vitamins and minerals? Stress, busy schedules and even poor food choices can all get in the way of our bodies getting everything they need for vibrant health. While eating a clean diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits is always my number one recommendation, there are a few key supplements that almost anyone can benefit from.
1. Start with the basics
A multi I always recommend patients start with a high-potency multivitamin and mineral formula – I consider it an insurance policy to protect against any nutrient deficiencies. A multi is never a substitute for a healthy diet, of course, but it does provide a nutritional foundation you can build on. Look for products that have the recommended daily value (DV) for all vitamins and minerals.
2. Go green
Flavonoid extracts and greens drinks Antioxidants work together as a team, so you always want to opt for a product that contains an array of antioxidants rather than a large dose of any single nutrient. Look to flavonoid-rich extracts like pine bark or grape seed extract at 100 milligrams per day, or have a greens drink each day. Opt for greens drinks made with wheat grass, dehydrated barley grass or algae sources such as chlorella or spirulina in addition to eating lots of plant-based foods every day.
3. A little help from the sea
Fish oil Omega-3s have nearly reached buzzword status, but few people understand why: Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are a key structural component of your body's cell membranes, so if you're missing those fatty acids, your cell membranes will be altered and your cells won't function properly. The consequence of this is tremendous, spurring the onset of virtually every chronic disease, especially cancer, diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular disease. The good news is that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids has shown significant protective effects. Look for one that provides 1,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA daily.
4. The sunshine vitamin
Vitamin D It turns out that vitamin D deficiency is very common – at least 50% of the general population is thought to be deficient – and it's a factor in the development of many chronic degenerative diseases. Unfortunately, I can't simply tell you how much to take, as the right dosage is different for everyone. Some people can reach an optimal level with just 600 IU daily (or 20 minutes of daily sunlight exposure), while others need 5,000 IU daily. The best way to know where you fall is to ask your doctor for a blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 or 25(OH)D3. I recommend that people aim to be in the range of 40 to 80 ng/ml.
5. Boost your bacteria with probiotics
The term probiotic comes from the Greek term biotikos, which translates to “for life.” Makes sense when we're talking about the beneficial bacteria that live in your intestinal tract. Studies show that gut bacteria play a huge role in human health – and taking a daily probiotic supplement can have profound effects on health. Probiotics dosages are usually based on the number of live organisms in the product, so to make sure you're getting a viable dose, look for products that guarantee the number of live bacteria at expiration versus time of production. I suggest taking 5 billion to 20 billion viable bacteria daily.