Dose Up: Four Supplements We Should All Be Taking

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I’m not a big fan of taking supplements. My belief is that if you eat healthily, you won’t need them because you’ll be getting the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need from the food you eat. Unfortunately, however, many of us don’t always eat the foods that we need to really get the doses that are recommended. That said, gobbling every supplement on the market (currently a recorded 29,000+) is not necessarily a great strategy either. 

In my interview with Dr. Alan Logan, board-certified naturopathic physician and faculty member of Harvard’s School of Continuing Medical Education, he agreed. When it comes to getting nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, he really believes that the priority should be in getting them from your diet, especially plant-based foods and whole grains. However, when asked if there are any supplements worth taking, he conceded that given the typical American Diet, we could benefit from taking the following: 

1. Multivitamin/Mineral
A daily multivitamin/mineral supplement ensures you’re getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need. However, when certain vitamins are taken individually, they can actually be detrimental. Multivitamins on the other hand work in a way that all the vitamins and minerals work together to deliver the most healthful benefits. Taking isolated vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and any other antioxidant vitamins are considered detrimental and can have a pro-oxidative effect (something you don’t want). As a result, it is recommended to take these together, as they act “like a symphony orchestra” and are most beneficial. 

Recommended Dosage: One multivitamin. Look for those that don’t exceed the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of daily dosages. For a guide, look here for vitamins and here for minerals.

A Brand to Try: One-A-Day Multivitamins

2. Vitamin D
Although a very limited amount of summer sun exposure on your skin can give you enough vitamin D for as long as a few weeks, those of us who live in the north miss out on this a good portion of the year. Further, sunscreen can block our ability to absorb vitamin D, as well. Dr. Logan assures us that vitamin D taken independently isn’t detrimental. As a result, if you don’t live in a warm, sunny climate, it could be beneficial to supplement your diet with vitamin D. 

Recommended Dosage: 1,000 IU a day

A Brand to Try:
Nature Made Vitamin D 1,000 IU

3. Fish Oil
Omega3s are especially healthy and are found in fish and some plants. Fish, however, is a better source than plants because the Omega3s found in plants are called alpha linolenic acids, which need to be converted by the liver into DHA to get the most benefit. Our conversion rate to DHA is about 5 to 15 percent—not very high. Most of the omega3s found in fish, however, have already been converted by the fish themselves. As a result, if you aren’t consuming fatty fish three times a week minimum, you should consider supplementation. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you should look for plant-based varieties (flax, walnut, and others) and ensure you are getting enough vitamin B6 and vitamin B3, folic acid, zinc, and selenium to maximize your conversion rate. 

Recommended Dosage: 1 gram of EPA/DHA fish oil.

A Brand to Try: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega-D3 1000 mg Soft Gels

4. Probiotics
If you’re not consuming fermented foods, such as yogurt, on a regular basis, you may not be getting enough healthy bacteria into your system for proper digestion and health. As a result, you may want to consider taking probiotics. It’s important to mention that yogurt can be of low-quality, especially those that are North American varieties. They’re more “like pudding” instead of yogurt, claims Dr. Logan. Look for those yogurts that are pure and more natural. Kephir is a great beverage from Europe, and Greek yogurt is also a much higher-quality product.

A Brand to try:
Nature’s Way—Primadophilus Optima 

By Brett Blumenthal for SheerBalance

Updated on February 2, 2011


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