One of the most common health questions people have is what supplements to take, but when you finally make it to the supplement aisle, the options can be overwhelming.
“Which strain of probiotic should I use?”
“What’s the best form of fish oil?
“Which type of vitamin D do I need?”
The truth is that navigating the world of supplements can make your head spin.
How do you know which ones will really help you feel healthier, happier, and reduce inflammation?
This article is a basic roadmap to help you decide what supplements to take.
Let’s dive in!
1. Magnesium Supplements
Think of magnesium as nature’s chill pill.
In other words, it’s the ultimate relaxation mineral.
The body and brain depend on magnesium to stay relaxed.
For example, the body’s chemical pumps don’t work as well when you’re low on magnesium.
As a result, you can be left feeling anxious and stressed.
This critical mineral is found in all tissues, and is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions.
Plus, the cells in the bones, muscles, and brain all use magnesium to stabilize themselves.
The cells need magnesium to make energy, which is why magnesium deficiency can cause chronic fatigue.
Are your muscles constantly tense and stiff?
Does it take a long time to recover after a hard workout?
If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, then you might have a magnesium deficiency.
Believe it or not, there are over 3,500 medical references about conditions caused by magnesium deficiency.
So how do you know which magnesium to choose?
Here’s how to decide what magnesium supplements to take:
- Glycinate: highly absorbable and great for people who know they have a magnesium deficiency.
- Citrate: safe for improving digestion and reducing constipation.
- Chelate: easy for the body to absorb and found naturally in foods. This type restores magnesium levels throughout the body.
But be careful — you can overdose on magnesium, so it’s important to follow dosage guidelines.
On a similar note, diagnosing magnesium deficiency is difficult because magnesium isn’t stored in the blood.
For this reason, it’s best to start with small doses.
2. Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin,” and it’s completely different from most other vitamins.
What’s so special about vitamin D?
Unlike other vitamins, which are found in food, vitamin D is made in the body (with a little help from the sun).
In fact, vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that’s produced in the skin when it absorbs sunlight.
So everyone must get plenty of vitamin D then, right?
After all, sunlight is free.
Unfortunately, about 41.6 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D. (1)
This isn’t good because vitamin deficiency comes with some awful side effects.
For instance, low levels of vitamin D increase chronic inflammation, especially for people with autoimmune diseases.
On top of that, vitamin D is critical for gut health.
If the body doesn’t have enough vitamin D, the gut won’t be able to absorb important minerals like calcium.
And here’s where it gets even worse: this can damage bone health by causing calcium deficiency.
Unfortunately, the side effects of vitamin D deficiency don’t stop here.
Vitamin D compromises the immune system and increases the risk of cancer.
Studies also connect low vitamin D to depression.
With that said, now might be a good time to start taking vitamin D.
So how do you decide what vitamin D supplements to take?
The best form of vitamin D is vitamin D3.
This type is easiest for the bloodstream to absorb.
3. Vitamin C Supplements
Vitamin C is a master antioxidant that prevents cell damage and fights disease.
As for heart health, vitamin C lowers cholesterol and reduces blood pressure. (2)
But vitamin C doesn’t stop here — it also boosts iron absorption and helps the blood carry oxygen.
Your immune system will also thank you for taking vitamin C because it reduces respiratory infections.
Furthermore, the brain needs vitamin C to support healthy aging, and studies show that dementia patients have lower levels of vitamin C.
You can even find vitamin C in the produce section in a variety of fruits and vegetables like:
The good news is that this makes naturally-sourced vitamin C supplements easy to find.
Are you ready to decide what vitamin C supplements to take?
As you scan the shelf, make sure the bottle says “ascorbic acid” (this is vitamin C’s scientific name).
At the same time, it should also be free of fillers and preservatives.
4. Omega-3 Supplements
There’s no doubt that omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most important supplements out there.
What makes omega-3’s so special?
For starters, they’re extremely good at reducing inflammation.
Omega-3 supplements help all sorts of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, and dementia.
In fact, omega-3’s play a central role in overall health and wellness, including heart health and beyond.
The list of autoimmune diseases that omega-3’s treat is long, including:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
…and many more…
Your head will also thank you for taking omega-3’s because they reduce migraines.
Choosing the right omega-3 supplement, though, can be hard.
Here’s how to decide what omega-3 supplements to take:
First off, fish oil is the best form of omega-3’s.
Secondly, the bottle should say “EPA” and “DHA” on the back (these are the technical terms for the most important omega-3’s).
Try to avoid processed fish oil that contains ethyl esters. (3)
Purity and freshness are also major issues when it comes to fish oil.
Fish oil capsules go rancid over time, and the older a bottle is, the less likely it is to work.
For safety’s sake, it’s best to look for brands that are endorsed by medical professionals.
5. Zinc Supplements
When you think about zinc, you might have heard that it’s good for the immune system.
While this is true, it also has a ton of other benefits.
For one, you need zinc in small amounts every day to fend off colds and help with digestion, but the power of zinc doesn’t stop here. (4)
Zinc also has significant therapeutic benefits for cancer and heart disease.
On a similar note, zinc acts as an anti-inflammatory and is an important supplement for people with autoimmune disorders.
We all want to age with grace, and zinc can help by slowing the aging process and supporting hormone production.
It’s also worth pointing out that zinc deficiency increases the risk of diabetes and infertility.
Are you ready to do some zinc shopping?
You can find zinc in various forms, including capsules, gels, syrups, and lozenges.
But how do you decide what zinc supplements to take?
As of now, zinc is available as zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate, and zinc acetate, and they are all equally effective.
6. B Vitamins
B vitamins are important for energy production, metabolism, preventing fatigue, and supporting brain function. (5)
Folate (B9) plays a major role in DNA production and preventing cancer.
When it comes to mental health, vitamin B12 can have a huge impact on depression.
In the long run, vegetarians and vegans are more likely to be low on vitamin B12 because it’s only found in animal foods.
For this reason, it’s extremely important for non-meat eaters to take B vitamins.
However, even if you eat plenty of foods containing B vitamins, you can still have problems absorbing it.
Pregnant vegan mothers are the most at risk because the developing fetus needs vitamin B12 to develop.
When it comes down to it, B vitamins affect nearly every function in the body.
They support the liver, nerves, skin, and eyes, not to mention turning other nutrients into energy.
Generally speaking, people with autoimmune diseases have higher rates of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Unfortunately, only a small percentage of people get enough B vitamins. (6)
Are you ready to decide what B12 supplements to take?
Methylcobalamin is the the naturally occurring form of vitamin B12 that’s found in animal products.
As for folate, methylfolate is the most bioavailable.
At the same time, you should avoid folic acid like the plague.
Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate (B9) that isn’t found in nature.
Probiotics are living bacteria that you can take as a supplement to promote gut health.
Yet, you may wonder why someone might want to eat bacteria?
The truth is, not all bacteria causes disease.
In fact, your gut is full of bacteria — some of it’s good, and some of it’s bad.
Bad bacteria feeds on sugar and refined carbohydrates.
As a result, it increases food cravings, weakens the gut lining, and increases the risk of diabetes.
Good bacteria (probiotics), on the other hand, feed on dense leafy greens and other healthy foods.
By taking probiotics, you can strengthen the gut lining, protect the bloodstream from inflammation, and reduce the risk of severe health problems.
For this reason, probiotics are one of the most important supplements for treating autoimmune disease.
This is because the inflammation that spreads throughout the body often starts in the gut.
But how do you know what probiotic supplements to take?
There are a lot of options out there, but a quality probiotic should at least contain these eight strains:
- L. acidophilus
- B. bifidum
- L. casei
- L. rhamnosus
- L. reuteri
- B. breve
- B. longum
- S. thermophilus
Scientist’s are still trying to figure out exactly what the ideal ratio of gut bacteria is, but so far all they know is that healthy people have higher levels of these strains.
It’s hard to know for sure if you’re getting enough essential nutrients, and that’s where multivitamins come in handy.
The problem with most multivitamins is that they often contain ingredients that are either harmful or useless.
For example, a lot of supplements contain soy, which is inflammatory.
Soy products can also cause hormone imbalances, so you should avoid them too if you can.
A good multivitamin should also be non-GMO, iron-free, dairy-free, and contain no artificial sweeteners.
People with autoimmune disorders should always avoid dairy and artificial sweeteners because they can trigger inflammation.
As for being iron-free, iron supplements are easy to overdose on and should only be taken under careful medical supervision.
But what about the good stuff?
Here are the most essential ingredients that every multivitamin should have:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin A
It’s also not a bad idea to include bioflavonoids, inositol, choline, and alpha lipoic acid, but these are just bonuses.
I know that’s a lot of information to take in at once, but if you focus on these eight supplements, you’re bound to see an improvement in your health.
Fortunately, our providers at Complete Care Health Centers are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Feel free to contact us today for help with your supplement shopping.