Top 6 Supplements for a Healthy Life
Patients regularly ask for information and recommendations for nutritional supplements. While recommendations can vary greatly based on a person’s health status and individual needs, there are some supplements that we believe everyone should take for optimal health.
A good quality multivitamin is one of the most important supplements. According to the CDC, the vast majority of Americans are not able to meet their nutrient needs by diet alone. A 2013 CDC study showed that only 13.1% of the US population met sufficient fruit intake and only 8.9% met sufficient vegetable intake. Other studies have demonstrated that the produce we eat today contains lower levels of essential vitamins and minerals than the produce we consumed decades ago, likely due to soil depletion.
2. Vitamin B12
It has been estimated that 30 million Americans are deficient in vitamin B12, Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) plays an essential role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function and the production of DNA, the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information. B12 is found in poultry, beef, fish, and dairy products. People who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet are more prone to deficiencies. Also, people who use medications for acid reflux or heartburn usually have lower levels due to the medication suppressing stomach acid and blocking stomach acid can also block B12 absorption. So uses of acid blockers are advise to use an oral B12 supplement that goes under their tongue thus the absorption is oral rather than in the stomach. People who have had gastric bypass also should use an oral b12 or B12 shots due to less surface area for absorption. Lastly, as you age your body makes less stomach acid and so this affects absorption of B12 as well.
If you have your labs drawn to check B12 you will see a range from 350-1400, We have found the optimal range is closer to 1200. This is where we see the greatest benefit in terms of energy and feeling well.
Untreated, a vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue, muscle weakness, intestinal problems, nerve damage and mood disturbances.
Food sources of vitamin B-12 include poultry, meat, fish and dairy products.
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil supplements provide the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for regulating inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to our health for countless reasons, and they can only be obtained through diet and supplementation. Adequate omega-3 levels are necessary for proper cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, and musculoskeletal health. They have been shown to regulate blood pressure, maintain healthy body weight, regulate immune function, support a positive mood, and promote muscle and joint health. A 2006 study found that fish oil supplementation was as effective as most over the counter medications in reducing neck and low back pain. Typically, individuals need to supplement with 2000-3000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids to meet optimal levels. Additionally, it’s recommended that individuals consume 3 servings of oily fish (like salmon, anchovies, sardines, and mackerel) per week.
Magnesium is another one of the most important supplements for optimal health because it is required for more than 600 enzyme reactions in the body. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 75% of American adults don’t meet the FDA’s Recommended Daily Intake. Individuals who are most at risk of magnesium deficiency include those who consume diets high in processed foods, have blood sugar abnormalities or diabetes, drink large amounts of alcohol, take diuretics or proton pump inhibitors, have gastrointestinal conditions, have been on long-term antibiotics, or suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Low magnesium levels can lead to issues with vitamin D metabolism, weakening of the bones, heartbeat irregularities and irregular blood pressure, blood sugar issues, irritability and anxiety, muscle cramps and twitches, and fatigue.
There are several different forms of Magnesium but the best form for overall health is Magnesium Glycinate it won’t cause the GI effects of some other forms of Magnesium. It will cross the blood brain barrier and if taken at night can help reduce anxiety and aid in sleep. Suggested dose is 400-800 mg for adults.
5. Vitamin D
A CDC report estimated that 90 million Americans are deficient in vitamin D, In Cache Valley, I would bet it higher especially in the winter. It is estimated that 88% of the population receives less than optimal levels of vitamin D. Although the body naturally produces vitamin D through sun exposure, the sun is often not strong enough to meet the body’s needs. Vitamin D plays a key role in more than 3,000 chemical processes in the body. There are many factors that limit the body’s ability to convert sunlight to vitamin D, including limited sun exposure during winter months, older age, darker skin pigmentation, and use of sunscreen and clothes that shade the skin from the sun. Vitamin D is necessary for maintaining proper bone integrity, proper neuromuscular function, normal inflammatory response, muscle strength, proper calcium absorption, healthy immune response, and normal blood pressure. Studies have shown that adequate vitamin D levels are linked to decreased stress fractures, decreased injuries in athletes, improved bone healing and decreased rates of upper respiratory tract infections. Supplementing with vitamin D has also been shown to improve headache and migraine symptoms. The laboratory range is 30-100 but the optimal range for best function is 80-100.
Probiotics are important for maintaining gut health, which makes them important supplements for optimal health because we digest and absorb nutrients through the gut. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help the gut function properly. The gut also contains bad bacteria and pathogens that can decrease gut function and cause illness and disease. Maintaining a good balance between the “good” and the “bad” bacteria in the gut is important for overall health. Bacterial imbalances in the gut can lead to nutrient deficiencies even if we are consuming a balanced diet and supplementing with vitamins and other nutrients. Research shows that supplementation with probiotics supports healthy immune function, inflammation regulation, proper brain health, and weight management. It also helps to counteract some of the harmful side effects of taking common medications, like NSAIDs and antibiotics.
Because nutritional supplements are not regulated, quality can be an issue with certain brands, we recommend high quality brands found on Wellevate. We offer our patients high quality supplements at a discounted rate. It is important to keep in mind that supplements should be taken at specific doses that vary from individual to individual. In addition, certain supplements can interact with medications. Please speak to your mental health provider or primary care doctor for more information before starting a new supplement. Please contact our office with any questions.
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