When people ask me what supplements I’m taking, I’m usually hesitant to say, since everyone’s different and has different nutritional needs. I’m not a doctor, but I’ll share some of the basic supplements for health that I take that most people can benefit from taking. However, I believe it’s always best to address lifestyle first as getting your nutrients from food is always preferable.
There’s definitely a place for supplements as our soil is depleted of minerals and most of us don’t get enough nutrients from our diets (75 percent of Americans don’t eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables). The right ones can prevent disease, help your mood, weight, mental performance, energy, and more. But there’s also some potential negatives, which I will talk about in this post.
I learned a lot about supplements while training to be a Certified Bulletproof Coach and have taken many different ones over the years to help recover from biotoxic illness. Can I say for sure they helped? No, I honestly can’t, but they’re preferable to the alternative: prescription drugs. I recently pared down what I was taking to simplify my life, and, as I write in this article, biohacking can get expensive.
Basic Supplements for Health
Vitamin C: An important antioxidant for overall health as it quenches free radicals, enhances immune function, helps the biosynthesis of collagen for our skin and joints, and so much more. Dosage depends on the individual.
Vitamin D3: Known as the “sunshine vitamin.” It’s actually a hormone, and most people are deficient as they don’t get enough sunshine. It’s needed for healthy bones and disease prevention. It’s best to get tested as taking the right amount is important, and too much can be toxic. My levels are always low when I’m tested. The recommended dose is usually between 1,000-5,000 IUs daily, but some people need more.
Magnesium: Most people are deficient in this mineral. It reduces stress, is anti-inflammatory, and helps with sleep. The forms of magnesium that are thought to be most absorbable are glycinate, citrate, malate, threonate, and oronate. Suggested dose size: 600-800mg daily, best taken before bed.
Vitamin B-12: Essential for the nervous system. Many people are deficient, especially older people and those on a plant-based diet. Sublingual is thought to be best as it’s not well absorbed orally. A Vitamin B complex is also a good choice.
Krill Oil: Contains omega 3 (EPA and DHA) needed for the heart, brain and nervous system. Krill oil is less contaminated than fish oil. Omega 3 can also be obtained from flax oil, but it’s not as well absorbed as most of it comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Suggested dose size: 500-1,000mg daily.
Beyond the Basics
In addition to the basics, here’s a few more that I’m currently taking, which are more specific to my deficiencies and for helping with detoxification:
Glutathione: the body’s master antioxidant and is important for detoxifying the body. However, many glutathione supplements aren’t well absorbed, so it’s best to get the liposomal form. N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione and is a cheaper option.
Activated Charcoal: a highly absorbant material that helps binds toxins and take them out of the body. I like to take it when eating poor quality restaurant food and when drinking alcohol.
Ubiquinol: a reduced form of coEnzyme Q10 (coQ10) that’s easier to absorb. It’s an antioxidant that supports mitochondrial function and promotes heart health.
Melatonin: a hormone that controls our sleep and wake cycles. I don’t take it all the time, just when I need a little extra help sleeping like when traveling.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: an antioxidant found in every cell and is involved in energy production.
Minerals: I supplement minerals as my tests show I’m deficient in them, plus I’m probably losing them along with the bad stuff while sweating in the sauna; I also filter my water which takes out the minerals too.
Probiotics: help promote digestive health by restoring good bacteria. I have taken many probiotic supplements the past and prefer the soil-based ones, but am not currently taking any now as I get my good bacteria from fermented foods such as kefir. People with autoimmune conditions may want to be careful about which probiotics they take as it could make them worse (as in this article), so it may be best to tailor them to your condition.
Many people like to take a multivitamin for additional insurance. One made from whole foods like this one would be a good choice.
Other ways I like to get additional nutrients:
A Few of the Negatives of Supplements
Many supplements are synthetic and are not the same as natural vitamins, so our bodies can’t utilize them and may contain nasty additives, or don’t contain the ingredients they list.
It’s important to take the right dose, which will vary from person to person. People have gotten sick from taking megadoses of vitamins that would normally be considered healthy, such as vitamin A.
There’s a lot of snake oil out there–we’re being marketing to on a scale like never before. Keep in mind that the US supplement industry is reportedly something like $37 billion a year, according to this article. Online marketing is everywhere. Plus, there’s so much information and a lot of it is conflicting.
Any substance you put in your body can be perceived by your immune system as a toxin, even things perceived as healthy. I learned you can be intolerant to supplements during my stay at The Environmental Health Center, where they actually test people for their reactions to supplements; many sick people find supplements can make them worse. That’s why I don’t think it’s a great idea to be taking handfuls of them, especially if you’re chronically ill.
I’m careful about herbs after seeing studies that found high levels of biotoxins in milk thistle. I’m also not a fan of green powders or chlorella as they’re made from algae and may can contain biotoxins.
A Few Things to Consider When Adding New Supplements
- Ask yourself if it’s really necessary, like when buying anything
- Always check with your health practitioner and get tested for mineral and vitamin deficiencies
- Do your research
- When in doubt, go without
- Check the labels and make sure they contain quality ingredients. The supplements you buy at big box stores and drug stores usually aren’t good quality–you often get what you pay for
- Just add one new thing at a time and listen to your body and how you feel when you take a new supplement
- Give new supplements time to take effect. My doctor told me it can take up to 3 months
What are your favorite supplements? How have they worked for you?