Which Supplements Are Actually Foundational?

I would like to say that, when we eat a healthy diet based on fresh, clean, and whole foods, we will get an adequate supply of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients. The reality is that we don’t. 

Certainly we get enough calories, but often these are empty calories that simply get stored in our fat cells. Many of us typically don’t eat the type of foods that are nutrient dense. And even the best of diets still can’t make up for toxins, depleted soils, genetic modifications, and deterioration due to cooking, transportation, or storage. 

This makes it hard to maintain many of the essential nutrients our body needs, not just for optimal health, but especially for repair and detoxification. It has become impossible to get all the vitamins and minerals we need on a daily basis from food alone. 

To be healthy and perform optimally, we need to add in a few additional nutrients through supplementation. 

The challenge is sorting through all the information and claims in order to prioritize the right kind of supplementation. Especially when we hear one day something is supposed to be good for us and the next day someone else seems to discover it actually isn’t. This can be so confusing. 

What I do is start with the basics. Getting the foundation established goes a long way in my book towards setting things in the right direction. 

I always start with a good probiotic. Gut health is critical to so many things in our body. We need to break our food down, get it absorbed properly, keep out the bad stuff, and move it all along quick enough to remove the waste out. More and more research is showing the connection between gut health and mental health, thus we need to make sure we have a healthy gut. 

Remember your gut is your first line of defense and a large part of your immune system. Probiotics are well studied to support a healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria. But not all probiotics are the same. 

Probiotics are rated by potency and number of strains. In general, look for something between 6 and 13 strains and rated at least 20 billion at expiration date. More strains than that and you loose potency per strain and the bacteria compete against each other. 

After a probiotic, I head to Omega 3’s. I suggest this in a triglyceride form with no detectable toxins, especially when considering brain health. Most fish oil is ethyl ester which is not as absorbable, so read the box carefully. Taking 2 to 4 grams of this per day is ideal. 

Next on the list, I go right to vitamin D with K. These two play synergistically and many of vitamin D’s benefits are enhanced by K. Overall D is important for brain health, immune function, and calcium absorption. Vitamin K directs calcium to your skeleton so it doesn’t get deposited in your arteries. 

I see a lot of people taking 2,000 to 10,000 IUs of vitamin D every day, much more than the RDA of 600 IUs. This may seem like a high dose, but really a blood test is the only way to tell if you are getting enough. While levels above 30 ng/mL are typically considered adequate, I’ve also been reading that levels between 50 to 80 are even more ideal. 

Last on my list of foundation nutrients is a multi-vitamin that is of high quality and contains therapeutic amounts. This will mean the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) are exceeded, and I think that is a good thing. It also means taking 3 to 6 capsules, especially if you want enough magnesium and calcium. Less than that and you won’t be taking enough to be effective. 

It is important here to look at the form of B vitamins and minerals on the label. Look for folate over folic acid and the methylcobalamin form of B12 over cyanocobalamin. This insures a greater likelihood your body can use these nutrients. For best absorption, find chelated forms of the minerals such as malate or glycinate. 

If you have any questions about supplements, please stop by our nutrition center or you can reach us at nutrtion@eaglehighlandpharmacy.com.