I am not uncommonly asked which supplements I think are the most important to take. Most people, oddly enough, don’t like taking a boatload of various vitamins, minerals and other nutrients every day. In fact, once optimal health is established, no one should need to take a handful of supplements.
For the most part, supplements are to fix problems in the short term, to make up for deficiencies that have been in place for a long time, or to take in large doses to get a ‘drug-like’ effect. High dose vitamin C, for example, has different properties and indications than low dose vitamin C.
Our modern world seems specially designed to negatively impact our health. While nutrient programs are always individualized for each patient, there are a few supplements that seem to me appropriate for pretty much everyone, every day.
1) Probiotic – I strongly recommend probiotics everyday. Stress, sugar, alcohol, carbohydrates, fried foods and much else deplete these bacteria, which are vital components of our health. And
while refrigerated brands are popular, I strongly recommend a spore-based probiotic. As a spore, these bacteria survive the acidic environment of the stomach and make it to the lower bowel where they colonize. The spore-based probiotics are relatively new and not easily obtained. We have the the most extensively tested spore-based probiotic in our clinic for those interested.
2) Multivitamin – There are studies showing that multivitamins don’t improve health, and detractors of alternative medicine love to cite those studies as evidence that it’s all bunk. I think this is a great illustration of the difference in quality between retail multivitamins that are used by the people in those studies, and the high-quality, professional-line multivitamins that contain no fillers and contain the activated forms of the most important nutrients.
Retail multivitamins, especially those found in the large retailers, commonly contain fillers, flowing agents, artificial colors, and sometimes even metals such as aluminum (as “aluminum lake” coloring). Why on earth would anyone want to consume a toxic heavy metal along with a supplement that is supposed to improve their health?! On top of that, retail brands often contain forms of the vitamins and minerals that are cheap to produce, but are also poorly absorbed or have low biological activity (folic acid vs 5-MTHF, cyanocobalamin vs methycobalamin, etc.).
With multivitamins, you get what you pay for. The high-quality products cost more, but each dose is delivering nutrients that your body can more readily put to use.
3) Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – There were several good candidates to fill this third spot, but I think CoQ10 is most deserving. The reason is this: CoQ10 is an essential component of the process cells use to generate energy. Cells requiring the most ongoing energy production, like muscles and especially the heart, need the most constant supply of CoQ10.
And again, this modern world is filled with chemicals, food additives, heavy metals, stresses and even electromagnetic waves that can cripple the energy production process. On top of that, a drug taken by millions of people – statins, given to lower cholesterol – specifically depletes CoQ10. For these reasons, it makes my list as a Top 3 supplement. It is fat soluble, so it should always be taken with a meal.
No supplement will ever be a substitute for regular exercise and a diet of whole, organic food.
However, in combination with those things, I think that these three supplements are the sensible trio to best support long-term overall wellness, appropriate for just about anyone looking to support their long-term wellness.