This can be a confusing and controversial topic. I am not here to persuade anyone to take supplements who doesn’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!).
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.
MY ONE-STOP PROTOCOL FOR BUSY PEOPLE is to make daily supplements super easy. These are high-quality, convenient twice-a-day packets. This is what my husband takes (I take the special women’s version), as well as my female patients (under 35 with healthy hormones). You can cut to the chase and order these now. Of course, check with your health provider to get the okay. If you want to know the details about why I recommend these, put on your geek 🤓 cap and please read on…
I separate supplements into two categories: therapeutic and essential. Therapeutic supplements can vary wildly depending on what health issues you are supporting. Essential supplements are more uniform because they are nutrients that we all need that are difficult to get from food alone. I see low nutrient levels on a regular basis, even in the U.S. which is a well-fed country. Reasons for this include:
- Low mineral levels in plant foods because of depleted soils ~ magnesium deficiency is widespread.
- 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.
- Avoiding consumption of the 11 most nutrient-dense foods: salmon, liver, seaweed, egg yolks, kale, garlic, sardines, blueberries, potatoes, shellfish, and dark chocolate.
- 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 for those who aren’t nearly naked at noon without sunscreen for 15-30 minutes, especially for those with dark skin or who live above this line:
Twice-daily essential packets for all
These allow people to get their daily essential nutrients in two easy packets. 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). My patients love these, and I do too!
Here’s the tech sheet on what’s in these packets. Here’s why I am a fan of each ingredient:
1. A decent multi-vitamin with trace minerals
Yup, I am a fan of a decent multi-vitamin. Why? To fill in the gaps you’re not getting from your daily food. Let’s face it, we don’t all get 5-7 servings of organic fruits and veggies per day and several servings of the top 11 nutrient-dense foods a day. By “decent” I mean that each individual ingredient is the right amount and in the right delivery form. In particular, I like:
- No iron or copper unless a deficiency is shown – including in pregnancy!
- All the trace minerals in the right amounts.
- Safe and bioavailable B vitamins and no folate as “folic acid.”
- The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E.
- A robust amount of vitamin C.
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.
2. Essential fatty acids (EFAs)
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of the omega3 fatty acids DHA and EPA from fish oil. EPA and DHA aren’t available in plants – the exception is algae oil. This includes the omega6 fatty acid GLA which is particularly good for hormone balance. These precious fatty acids are low in our diets. You need these to resolve inflammation and for the health and lubrication of your hormones, joints, and all body tissues.
3. Magnesium and calcium in the right balance
People are commonly deficient in magnesium and our needs are higher under stress. Deficiency is rampant because it’s low in today’s plants and soil. Symptoms include irritability, anxiety, PMS, muscle soreness, cramps, and insomnia. Read all about your magnesium needs here. I prefer to balance magnesium with calcium in the right amounts – not too high or too low. As with all supplements, the quality and bioavailability matter, and Albion lab makes the best minerals.
Read about the add-ons in the Women’s Boosted Daily Supplement Protocol. Questions? Please ask below,