This can be a confusing and controversial topic. I am not here to persuade you to take supplements if you don’t want to. This is for the folks who are in the camp of I want to take supplements but I’m not sure what to take and what brand to trust. Here I let you know what I recommend, and over here I talk more about brands (brands do matter). PLEASE consult your health provider before taking any supplements.
My one-stop protocol
I recommend these for guys and for women under 35 with healthy hormones. For women over 35 or women with hormone issues, I use the Women’s Daily Supplement Protocol.
These Twice-Daily Essential Packets allow people to get their daily essential nutrients in two easy packets (with the exception of vitamin D – you may need more, depending on where you live, read more below). No need to count, sort, or measure. All the basics are included, in bio-available forms, each batch tested by a 3rd party lab for ingredient quality. The manufacturer Designs For Health does not use plastic bottles or let products sit too long in storage or at high temperatures (ahem, Amazon).
Here’s the tech sheet on what’s in these packets. Here’s why I am a fan of each ingredient:
- Multivitamin with trace minerals, in the right amounts, and most importantly, in bioavailable forms. See the multivitamin fact sheet.
- Essential fatty acid blend with DHA, EPA, plus GLA. See the fact sheet.
- Calcium and Magnesium by Albion Labs, in the right amounts. See the fact sheet.
Vitamin D alert!
You may need more vitamin D than what’s in any multivitamin, including the Twice-Daily Essential Packets. Above this latitude line in the picture here, you cannot get enough sun to make vitamin D during the winter months. And for everyone, at all locations, you need to be outside sunbathing at noon for 20-30 minutes a day, without sunscreen to make enough vitamin D. Everyone should get their D tested on an annual basis if they have access. Levels should be midrange or higher on the lab reference range. In the U.S. that’s 60-80 ng/mL.
First of all, I’m a big fan of getting your nutrients from food and sunlight. However, nowadays there are many reasons why this may not be enough to feel your best and have your labs show zero deficiencies. In my practice, I test nutrient levels all the time, and consistently see low levels in folks who don’t supplement, or who use low quality or food-based brands.
Reasons for this include:
- We don’t all get 5-7 servings of organic fruits and veggies per day.
- Avoiding consumption of the 11 most nutrient-dense foods: salmon, liver, seaweed, egg yolks, kale, garlic, sardines, blueberries, potatoes, shellfish, and dark chocolate.
- Low mineral levels in plant foods because of depleted soils ~ magnesium deficiency is widespread. Symptoms include irritability, anxiety, PMS, muscle soreness, cramps, and insomnia. Read all about your magnesium needs here.
- Digestive problems that cause poor absorption of nutrients, such as celiac disease or colitis.
- PPI acid-blocking medications shown to cause deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin C, calcium, iron, or magnesium.
- Low intake of essential fatty acids from not eating enough fatty fish like sardines and salmon, and grass-fed beef.
- Nonorganic plant foods have lower nutrients compared to organic, as shown in this paper.
- Not enough good gut bacteria to synthesize thiamine, folate, biotin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin K.
- Avoidance of any food groups can increase risks for deficiencies (such as choline and B12 for vegans, or vitamin C and flavanoids for exclusive carnivores).
- Low vitamin D levels from not enough sun exposure.
The right multivitamin matters
I am not a fan of multivitamins that are concentrated foods (not enough nutrients and why not just eat food?), gummy vitamins (too much sugar or fructose), and drug and grocery store brands (tend to be lower quality and have fillers and additives). I am also not a fan of purchasing from 3rd party sellers (Amazon, etc) unless you know they are trustworthy and that their storage and shipping practices maintain the quality.
Read about the Women’s Daily Supplement Protocol. Questions? Please ask below,