Sam is certified in optimal nutrition from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and enjoys writing about health and healing.
Why We Need Supplements
There are differing opinions on just what are the five most important supplements for good health. There are current supplement fads that come and go, but some pass the test of time and verified medical studies over the years.
Vitamins and supplements cost a lot of money, and no one wants to waste their money. For anyone eating a well balanced healthy diet usually doesn’t need to take many supplements, but the five best supplements are hard to get in a diet. This means our body probably needs a little extra.
There are many people that do not eat a healthy diet and there are many outside factors that deplete us of vitamins, minerals and supplements. Stress is one of the biggest factors that can deplete us of vitamins and minerals.
Pollution, illness, chemicals in foods and processed foods can also make us low in many vitamins and minerals. So much of our food today has as much and in some cases more additives than the actual listed food.
A poor digestive system is another cause being low in vitamins and nutrients. A poorly working digestive system comes from eating too much junk food, drinking too much alcohol and eating an overall bad diet.
If you have a bad digestive system, many of the nutrients you would normally get from your diet, pass through you and cannot be absorbed into your body. Which is why probiotics is one of the best supplements since they will help build a healthy gut and digestive system?
The following five best supplements for good health are not that easy to get even in a healthy, well-balanced diet, which is one important reason they are needed in supplement form.
Vitamin Fortified Foods
There are more and more fortified foods and beverages on the grocery store shelves now, and they are not the best way to get vitamins. Many food companies use vitamins that are made in China in an effort to keep costs down.
These synthetic vitamins are sprayed on fortified foods and are cheap and made from chemicals. Fortified foods are not worth any extra cost. And vitamin water is certainly not worth the extra cost.
The Best Supplements
In order for any vitamin or supplement to be of any benefit to us, it has to be of good quality and readily usable by our bodies. Some supplements are not readily usable by our bodies in amounts that we can take. Some natural supplements are far better than synthetic. Vitamin E is a good example of this.
When you buy a multi-vitamin, always look at the vitamin E in it and make sure it is the natural kind of vitamin E. The natural kind will say d-alpha-tocopherol and the synthetic type will list it as dl-alpha-tocopherol or something similar.
d-xxx always means natural while dl-xxx always means synthetic vitamin E. The following will explain all about the five most important supplements for good health.
Most everyone does take supplements, make sure you are getting the best and most supplements for your health.
Vitamin D3 - The Sunshine Vitamin
Most of us have low levels of this very important vitamin. Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for good health. Vitamin D builds and strengthens our immune system, which in turn keeps us from getting sick. Vitamin D is important for strong bones and teeth and is important for the absorption of calcium.
There are studies that show proper levels of vitamin D can keep us from getting the flu, certain cancers and promotes a healthy heart. Vitamin D was originally added to milk in the United States because of the high rate of rickets in the 1930s. Today, there is an increase in the number of cases of rickets.
Other problems associated with low levels of vitamin D are aches and pains which are commonly diagnosed as fibromyalgia and overall tiredness which is commonly diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome.
Vitamin D is not found in sufficient amounts in our daily diet. We can get plenty of vitamin D from the sun. Just 10 to 30 minutes in the sun each day can give us plenty of vitamin D. There are a number of reasons why so many of us are low in vitamin D. We sit inside all day and when we go outside, we use a ton of sunscreen. Between October and April, the sun is too far north in the northern latitudes to give us much if any vitamin D.
There are two types of vitamin D, D2 and D3. Vitamin D3 supplements are the most usable form for our bodies to use. Vitamin D3 is a fat soluble vitamin, which means you have to have some fat when you take fat soluble vitamins. It is best to take fat soluble vitamins with a meal or even a little peanut butter, yogurt or something with fat.
Many doctors today are recommended that we take more vitamin D3, especially during the winter months. Most nutritionists and doctors now recommend taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day with some recommending up to 5,000 IU per day during the winter months of October through April when the sun is low (for the northern hemisphere).
Without a health digestive system, our health can suffer, and probiotics are one of the best supplements we can take for good health. Probiotics is the one supplement that can build a healthy digestive system and a healthy digestive system is very important for good health.
A healthy digestive system also creates a strong immune system, which is what we need to fend off colds, the flu and other illnesses. There are several reasons we can have a bad digestive system including a bad diet, alcohol and medications, especially antibiotics.
Our gut or digestive systems is full of bacteria, good and bad bacteria. When the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria, our digestive systems start to show signs of not functioning properly. Constipation and diarrhea are two signs of a poor digestive system.
You can build a healthy digestive system and build the number of good bacteria in your gut by getting probiotics in your daily diet. Fermented foods like Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, kefir and tempeh can aid in building a strong digestive system. In addition to these foods, you can also take a good probiotics supplement to further enhance the good bacteria in your gut and digestive system.
CoQ10 or coenzyme Q-10 is another important supplement. CoQ10 is important to the cells in our bodies and is one of the strongest antioxidants. CoQ10 is an important supplement for:
- Keeps the heart strong and healthy
- High energy and stamina
- Cellular health
- Mental clarity
Studies have shown that optimal levels of CoQ10 can reduce the following health issues:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Muscular Dystrophy
Taking a CoQ10 supplement is recommended for people that take statin drugs for high cholesterol, since statin drugs can reduce a person’s level of CoQ10.
As always, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements with medications. There are two types of CoQ10, Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol. Ubiquinone is more common and is usually cheaper. Ubiquinone metabolizes in our bodies and becomes Ubiquinol.
As we age, our body's ability to metabolize Ubiquinone into Ubiquinol decreases. For those of us over the age of 40, you should consider taking Ubiquinol. Source Naturals is one of my favorite supplement companies and their Ubiguinol is recommended.
Omega 3 - Essential Fatty Acid
Omega-3 is another important supplement. Most Americans eat a diet that is far too high in omega-6 compared to the omega-3 in their diet. The optimum ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in our diet should be about 2 to 1 or 3 to 1.
Today, this ratio is about 15 to 1 and higher and is most likely the reason for many diseases. You can get plenty of omega-3 in your diet by eating fish three times a week, like salmon or mackerel. But fish is expensive and many people do not like fish. Taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement is much cheaper way to get omega-3.
Increasing omega-3 in our diet can help prevent and or alleviate the following medical conditions.
- High triglycerides
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Bi-polar disorder
- Age related eye diseases
- Movement disorder in children (dyspraxia)
- Developmental coordination disorder
When you look at an omega-3 fish oil supplement, you want to look at the combined DHA and EPA amounts. A combined 300-500 mg per day is optimal.
Taking a fish oil pill is not an option for vegans and those eating a plant-based diet. In this case, there are excellent sources of omega-3 from supplements that are made from algae. Algae supplements are an especially excellent source of the DHA form of omega-3.
Health Note: It is important to note that fish oil can thin the blood and cause easy bruising and bloody noses. If you are taking a blood thinner like warfarin or coumadin, talk to your doctor before taking any fish oil supplements.
Magnesium is a mineral that is used extensively by our body. Magnesium is important for healthy organs, especially the heart and kidneys. Magnesium is also important for regulating calcium, zinc, potassium, vitamin D levels, activating enzymes and contributing to energy production.
Magnesium can be obtained through a proper diet and eating a good amount of green leafy vegetables, bananas, nuts and whole grains. But many do not eat these foods every day. Another problem is that our foods are lower in nutrients than they were just 50 years ago, especially processed foods.
A real deficiency of magnesium is rare, but not getting enough magnesium daily is common. A person can become deficient in magnesium from digestive disorders, excessive sweating, prolonged stress and too much alcohol, coffee, salt or sugar.
Studies show that as many as 60% of us do not get even the recommended daily allowance of magnesium. The RDA for magnesium for adults is:
- Men 19 to 30 years old: 400 mg daily
- Men over 30: 420 mg daily
- Women 19 to 30 years old: 310 mg daily
- Women 31 and over: 320 mg daily
Taking too much magnesium in supplement form can cause nausea and diarrhea.
Magnesium deficiency symptoms include agitation, anxiety, restless legs syndrome, irritability, sleep disorders, confusion, depression, fibromyalgia and poor nail growth. Magnesium can help with the following medical conditions:
- Magnesium is calming and can help with anxiety and insomnia
- Insulin resistance related to type II diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Coronary heart disease and arrhythmia
- Cramps and muscle spasms in the legs
- Restless leg syndrome
- Preeclampsia and eclampsia
Note: If you have heart or kidney illnesses, talk with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements. If you take any medications, talk to your doctor before you take any supplements since they could react with your medications. For more magnesium information, see the reference links below.
There are several types of magnesium supplements. Magnesium citrate, chelate or glycinate are the best while magnesium oxide should be avoided. There are also topical magnesium supplements that the body can absorb without stomach problems.
Taking a multi-vitamin or a B complex supplement is recommended, since B6 regulates how much magnesium can be absorbed into the cells. Magnesium supplements are best taken with a meal with a little fat.
© 2014 Sam Montana
New Guestbook Comments
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on September 12, 2016:
This is a good review of the supplements we need and how to determine the quality.
One problem I noticed is that doctors generally don't pay attention to this important health issue. When I had my last physical I asked fora copy of my blood report and noticed that my Vitamin D was low.
My doctor never mentioned it. I had to being it up myself. When I asked him about it, all he said was that if I feel like it I can take supplements. What a shame. We have to be so diligent about reading our own health records.
DW Davis from Eastern NC on July 11, 2015:
When I see my doctor next month I will ask if he recommends a pro-biotic supplement. I try to maintain a diet that provides most of the nutrients I need but take a multivitamin to ensure I'm not missing any. Thank you for an excellent and informative hub.
Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on December 05, 2014:
This is an excellent list of essential vitamins and minerals! I take a multi and an E daily, but do my best to get vitamins via food. I'm not a fan of the vitamin water line, it's cheaper and more sensible just to pop a multivitamin, there are even chewable tablets for those who can't swallow pills.
Anyway...superb hub! Just voicing my opinion :)