The definition of a supplement is “something that completes or improves something else when added to it.”
Surveys show that more than half of Americans take some type of vitamin supplement almost daily, but what are the best supplements for health?
Supplements remain a controversial topic
Some health experts tell us that they are mostly unnecessary because we can get the essential nutrients we need only from our diets.
Others while saying that conventionally grown foods today do not contain enough nutrients due to problems such as poor soil quality.
So who should we believe? And if we are going to take supplements, what are the best supplements for overall health?
The best supplements for you will depend on factors such as:
- Medical history.
- Level of physical activity.
For example, adult men and women can benefit from taking different supplements, vegetarians / vegans can use more of certain nutrients like vitamin B12, and people who live in colder climates may need more vitamin D.
We must also remember that even the best supplements cannot take the place of eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
While supplements like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and protein powders can help support specific functions, the real goal of using supplements should be to improve an already balanced diet.
What is considered a supplement?
According to the National Institute of Health, dietary supplements include:
- Herbs and botanicals.
- Amino acids.
- Enzymes and many other products.
Today, there are more supplements than ever before in history available in health food stores, pharmacies, and online in a variety of forms, including:
- Drinks and more.
Some of the most popular supplements include multivitamins; vitamins D and E; minerals like calcium and iron; herbs like turmeric, echinacea, and garlic; glucosamine ; probiotics; omega-3 fish oils; and protein powders.
6 best health supplements and their benefits
1. Vitamins C, E and A for skin health
As we age, our skin becomes more susceptible to damage from an unhealthy lifestyle, too much sun exposure, a poor diet, an overactive immune system, and other factors.
What Vitamins Really Work When It Comes To Improving Skin Health? Getting plenty of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A / beta-carotene, and zinc can help keep your skin looking healthy and youthful.
For example, antioxidant vitamin C does more than just fight disease – it also helps protect your skin by fighting free radicals and helping you absorb more trace elements and nutrients overall.
Excessive consumption of vitamin E and vitamin A has been shown to improve healing. Collagen is another supplement that can benefit your skin by helping to repair wounds and keep skin elastic, strong, and hydrated.
2. B vitamins for energy and help to manage stress
B vitamins, including vitamin B12 and folate, are important for your metabolism, support cellular processes, growth and energy expenditure, prevent fatigue, and increase cognitive functions.
Those who eat plants and avoid meat (vegetarians / vegans) are more likely to be low in B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, which is only found in foods of animal origin, so supplementation is recommended.
Even if you consume the daily B vitamins you need (from eating things like beef, chicken, and eggs), you may still have problems with proper absorption (like vitamin B12) due to use of medications or harmful health conditions. intestinal health.
3. Vitamin D and calcium for bone health and more
It remains controversial whether two of the best supplements for keeping bones strong and reducing your risk of bone loss and fractures are calcium and vitamin D.
Calcium is consumed when other key nutrients such as vitamin D and magnesium have been shown to offer protection against some of the biggest threats to adult men and women:
Experts believe that most adults in the US do not get enough calcium on a daily basis, but calcium is not properly absorbed when someone has low levels of vitamin D and magnesium.
Supplementing with calcium has its pros and cons, so talk to your doctor about your risk factors and try to get enough from food first if you can.
Vitamin D3 is not only important for bone / skeletal health, it is also necessary for:
- Brain functions.
- The prevention of mood disorders.
- Immune support.
- The hormonal balance.
We get most of our vitamin D by exposing our skin to sunlight.
As more people spend much of their time indoors these days or diligently wear sunscreen when outdoors, both men and women are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Estimates vary, but some research shows that about 75 percent of adults in the United States may be handicapped.
How much vitamin D should you take daily?
The best way to get enough vitamin D is to spend 15-20 minutes outdoors most days of the week without wearing sunscreen. If this is not possible for you, it is recommended that you take 400–800 IU / day, or 10–20 micrograms.
Research studies suggest that a higher daily intake of 1000–4000 IU (25–100 micrograms) may be even more beneficial for some handicapped adults, so it’s best to talk to your doctor.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids to fight inflammation
What is the best supplement to take if you want to keep your immune system strong, your joints healthy, your brain working fast, and your heart healthy?
Omega-3 fatty acid / fish oil supplements can help fight inflammation, which is associated with common conditions, such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating wild-caught fish several times a week or taking a supplement of about 1,000 milligrams per day is the best way to beat inflammation and get enough omega-3s.
Other vitamins can effectively control blood sugar levels and hormonal responses, which can contribute to inflammation when they become abnormal.
Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C work together to keep cells and tissues strong and protect against inflammation.
Zinc is one of the most important nutrients to help with nutrient absorption (it is involved in more than 100 metabolic processes) and allows for the proper elimination of waste, which fights inflammation and cell damage.
5. Antioxidants for eye health
Vitamins and antioxidants for the eyes can help protect the macula, lens, and cornea of the eyes, while reducing damage and inflammation from free radicals, which destroy eye tissue.
A number of antioxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin, can help protect your vision and eyes as you age.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in the macular region of the retina of the eyes, and studies suggest that they may help reduce the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that can lead to macular degeneration (AMD).
Zinc and copper in combination with other vitamins can also help protect the retina and reduce the risk of macular degeneration and vision loss.
Vitamin A and Vitamin C help fight free radical damage to the eyes caused over time by things like a poor diet, blue light emissions from computer screens, and exposure to sunlight / UV light. .
6. Probiotics for intestinal / digestive aid
Probiotics are bacteria that line the digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection.
Certain strains of probiotics improve immune function, while others promote health or hormonal balance.
Its “good intestinal insects” help produce vitamin B12, butyrate and vitamin K; displace bad microbes; create enzymes that destroy harmful bacteria; and stimulates the secretion of IgA and regulatory T cells, which support immune function.
When shopping for probiotic supplements, look for the genus, species, and strain. The label should also indicate the type of CFUs (colony forming units) that are present at the time of manufacture.
It’s best to take a probiotic that has at least 50 billion CFUs and a variety of strains, including multiple bacterial strains, such as:
- Bacillus cereus.
- Bacillus subtilis.
- Bifidobacterium bifidum.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus.
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus.
If you suspect you might have leaky gut syndrome (also known as leaky gut) it is worth trying other leaky gut supplements.
Perhaps you have intestinal permeability because you have symptoms of food sensitivity, inflammatory bowel disease, or skin problems such as eczema.
These supplements include:
- Collagen and licorice root to help maintain the mucous lining of the stomach and duodenum.
- Digestive enzymes (such as one that includes protease, amylase, lipase, and lactase).
- L-glutamine, which can help repair the gut and intestinal lining.
- Acetyl glucosamine, which can help protect the lining of your stomach and intestines.
Who Needs Supplements? Signs and Symptoms You May Benefit From Using Supplements
It is technically possible to get all the essential nutrients you need from a carefully planned and balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods. However, many people get less of one or more nutrients than they need, such as vitamins or minerals.
There are 13 vitamins that all humans require from their diets, such as vitamins C, A, D, E, K, and group B vitamins. There are also a number of important trace minerals and fatty acids that we must obtain from our diets because our bodies cannot produce them.
Research shows that many adults (and children too) experience at least one type of nutrient deficiency, if not more, even if they consume enough calories most days.
You are more likely to suffer from a nutrient deficiency if you don’t eat a nutritious variety of foods, in which case some supplements may help you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients.
People who are most likely to be deficient in key nutrients include:
- The elderly, who often have less appetite and difficulty absorbing some nutrients.
- Those who consume a lot of processed foods, sugar, refined grains, and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
- People who consume calorie-restrictive diets.
- Those with malabsorption / intestinal problems.
- People who consume high amounts of alcohol or smoke.
- Those under a lot of mental / physical stress.
- Endurance athletes or people who are very active.
- Pregnant women who have higher caloric and nutritional needs.
- People exposed to various environmental pollutants.
- Those on a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet that does not include any animals or a lot of animal products.
If you have any of the following symptoms or conditions, it is likely that certain supplements may be necessary:
- Muscle aches, pains and spasms.
- Joint pain and stiffness.
- Problems recovering from workouts.
- Brain confusion
- Digestive problems such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
- Fatigue and low energy.
- Blurred or decreased vision.
- Acne , skin breakouts , and signs of skin irritation.
- Poor quality sleep.
- Hair thinning
- Irregular or heavy periods.
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What are the most important vitamins for your body if you are a man?
The following are considered some of the best supplements for men:
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for both men and women, but unfortunately it is also one of the most common deficiencies.
As an electrolyte, magnesium helps regulate calcium, potassium, and sodium and is essential for more than 300 different biochemical functions in the body.
Studies have shown that many older people do not eat enough magnesium-rich foods.
They are also prone to experiencing a reduction in magnesium due to problems with intestinal absorption, a reduction in bone magnesium stores, and excess urine loss due to factors such as stress and exercise.
Many men are also low in potassium
Potassium deficiency is more common in men who take medications or diuretics to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, or coronary heart disease; those with a history of kidney or adrenal disorders; alcoholics and men who exercise for more than one to two hours a day.
Men need vitamin D3 to make enough testosterone, keep bones strong, protect brain health, prevent mood disorders like depression, and help control cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
What supplements can you take to build muscle?
Of course, women can aim to gain muscle and lose fat just like men, but bodybuilding supplements tend to be more popular with men.
Some of the best and safest supplements for bodybuilding include collagen, creatine, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), glutamine, caffeine, and protein powders.
These are generally safe for most adults and offer benefits such as increasing lean muscle mass, improving muscle strength, decreasing muscle soreness, improving blood flow during training, and helping to repair injured connective problem.
What are the best protein powders for men?
Whey protein powder is one of the most popular and has been used for many years. It is fast to digest, it can help increase muscle mass after training, it can improve:
- Control of appetite.
- Supports muscle recovery.
- Stabilizes blood sugar and more.
To use whey protein, simply add a scoop (or about 28 grams) of a high-quality powder to any low-sugar shake or shake.
Keep in mind that people with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance should not consume whey protein. If this applies to you, try collagen protein powder, hemp protein, pea protein, or sprouted brown rice protein instead.
What are the best supplements for women?
Some of the best supplements for women listed below can help prevent common health problems, such as anemia, bone loss, and joint pain.
Postmenopausal women are more susceptible to bone-related disorders, such as osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Women can benefit from adequate intake of vitamin K, vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium for bone health.
If you have been taking antibiotics for a long time or suffer from intestinal problems, such as IBS or inflammatory bowel disease, you may need more vitamin K beyond what your diet provides.
Iron deficiency and anemia are the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world, especially among women.
Older women, those with anemia, vegans, and vegetarians should work with a doctor to make sure they get enough B vitamins and iron, as they are at the highest risk for these deficiencies.
Teenage girls are at higher risk for iron deficiencies, and women in general should be careful to get enough, as the demand for iron increases during menstruation due to blood loss.
Lack of calcium, amino acids (proteins), omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iodine and iron are more common in women (and men) who do not eat any animal products, which is why supplements are recommended in this case .
Women between the ages of 20 to 39 are more likely to have low iodine levels.
Iodine intake is especially important for young women wanting to get pregnant or who are pregnant, and it helps support thyroid hormone production.
The thyroid gland requires iodine to produce the hormones T3 and T4, which help control your metabolism and prevent problems such as hypo or hyperthyroidism.
Weight loss supplements and workout supplements can be beneficial when used carefully in appropriate dosages, although they are not a magic bullet.
Some of the best weight loss supplements to add to an already healthy diet include green tea extract, caffeine (watch out for very high doses), ginseng, vitamin B12, chromium, citrus polyphenols, and grapefruit essential oil.
Try these supplements in addition to exercise for stress management.
The requirements for many micronutrients increase during pregnancy, especially nutrients such as folate, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iodine.
For pregnant women, folic acid supplementation helps lower the risk of certain birth defects, including spina bifida.
Folate (which is called folic acid when created synthetically) is essential for a healthy pregnancy and fetus development because it helps build the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
It binds to folic acid / fermented folic acid, which is metabolized by the body in a similar way to natural folic acid.
The American Thyroid Association also recommends that all prenatal vitamins contain 150 micrograms of iodine, which should be taken during pregnancy and later while breastfeeding.
What to Look for in the Best Supplements
Unlike prescription drugs, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not determine whether dietary supplements are effective before they are marketed and sold to the public.
The FDA has established “Good Manufacturing Practices” (GMP) for dietary supplements to help ensure that they are safe and pure, however, it is your responsibility as a consumer to do your research, to purchase products from a brand of renown and follow dosage instructions.
Organizations, including the United States Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, and NSF International, offer seals of approval for supplements, so these are good resources to check before buying a new product.
We recommend buying food-based supplements, such as multivitamins, whenever possible, which may mean that the nutrients are easier to digest.
Synthetic supplements are made from an unnatural source, while whole food based supplements are created through the process of fermentation, probiotics, and enzymes.
You can also look for multivitamins made with additional superfoods, herbs, enzymes, and botanicals like:
- camu camu.
- Chia seeds.
- Apple vinager.
We also highly recommend choosing a fermented multivitamin, as fermentation is a form of pre-digestion that makes nutrients easier to absorb.
Ideally, take a superfood-rich fermented multivitamin that also contains herbs that can help with digestion, such as ginger and peppermint.
Supplements to avoid
We recommend avoiding all synthetic supplements and looking for high-quality food-based supplements.
Check the ingredient label and skip supplements that contain ingredients like artificial colors, titanium dioxide, soy lecithin, BHT, maltodextrin, talc, hydrogenated oils, high doses of caffeine, or aconite.
Precautions when taking supplements
Some supplements contain active ingredients that can have strong and / or negative effects on the body. Supplements are more likely to cause side effects when taken in high doses, in combinations, or with prescription drugs.
Remember that supplements are not drugs, and should not be used to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure disease.
Some supplements can interact with prescription drugs in ways that can cause problems or make the drugs less effective.
This means that you should not take supplements in place of, or in combination with, prescription medications without talking to your doctor first.
Be especially careful when taking new supplements if you are taking medications such as blood thinners, antidepressants, birth control pills, or chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer.
Many supplements (especially herbal products) have not been well tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children, so if this applies to you, be very careful.
How to eat to support supplementation
Supplements are intended to do what their name implies: supplement your diet. Supplements shouldn’t take the place of eating healthy foods, so taking them is not an excuse to avoid eating things like vegetables, fruits, and fish – even the best supplements!
Even if you regularly take high-quality supplements, you should make an effort to eat nutrient-dense foods every day.
Some of the best foods to provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more include:
Anti-inflammatory foods, which are rich in antioxidants and have positive and preventive effects against many age-related disorders.
Foods that fall into this category can include:
Vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, and leafy greens, which are considered some of the best foods for overall health because they provide antioxidants and vitamins, including vitamins C, E, A, and zinc, along with carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin.
Other great options are:
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts).
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemon and limes).
- Sweet potatoes, green beans, eggs (including the yolk).
- Red peppers.
- Green peas.
- Seeds (sunflower, sesame, hazelnut, almond, Brazil nuts, others).
A diet that includes high-fiber foods like sprouted chia seeds, sprouted flax seeds, and sprouted hemp seeds is important to support probiotic growth.
Several times a week, try to eat wild fish and shellfish, especially salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, halibut, tuna, and more.
Other nutrient-rich protein options include organ meats like liver, grass-fed meat, raw dairy products, and poultry.
Try to have some raw foods like vegetables that are not cooked or that are lightly cooked.
Conserve antioxidants in your food by cutting and cooking them as close to the time you will eat them as possible. Cook your food at low temperatures as much as possible to avoid destroying the delicate phytonutrients.
Try to buy organic, fresh, grass-fed, and wild-caught foods as much as possible for the highest concentrations of nutrients.
Eat foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants along with healthy fats, as many of these vitamins are “fat soluble nutrients” that are best absorbed when eaten with a source of lipids (fats).
Combine nutrient-dense foods with something like omega-3 foods (like salmon), coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds for proper absorption.
Dosage Recommendations for the Best Supplements and a Guide on How to Take Them
Each nutrient should be taken in different amounts, so when shopping for supplements, always prefer the supplemental information panel found on the bottle / package that lists the contents, the amount of active ingredients per serving, other added ingredients, and the recommended dosage. .
Supplement manufacturers will suggest the recommended serving size for most adults. Because needs vary, you can talk to your healthcare provider if you think a different amount is more suitable for you.
Keep in mind that moderation is key with supplements, even the best supplements, and just because a nutrient is considered essential does not necessarily mean that taking more is always better; in fact, this can be dangerous and have negative effects.
Because some medications can interact with supplements, it may be beneficial to take them at different times (you can consult your doctor or pharmacist). By following a regular schedule for when you take medications and supplements, you are more likely to remember them each day.
Here are general recommendations for common supplements (again, do your research or ask your doctor if you have special needs):
- Vitamin D: 15 to 20 mcg / day (600 to 800 IU, or international units).
- Calcium: 1,000 to 1,200 mg / day.
- Probiotics: 2 to 4 high-quality probiotic capsules per day.
- Folate / folic acid: 400 mcg / day.
- Iron: 8 to 18 mg / day.
- Magnesium: 310 to 400 mg / day.
- Vitamin A: 700 to 900 IU / day.
- Vitamin C: 75 to 90 mg / day.
- Vitamin E: 22.4 IU / day (15 mg / day).
- Omega-3: 250–500 mg of EPA and DHA combined daily.
What is the best time of day to take supplements?
It really depends on the type of supplement, although consistency is probably the most important thing. Take supplements with food (unless otherwise recommended) to increase absorption and reduce the risk of side effects such as nausea.
Check the instructions to see if you need to split your doses throughout the day, as smaller doses of many nutrients are absorbed by the body better than large doses.
Iron is a supplement best absorbed on an empty stomach, such as first thing in the morning, and taking probiotics about 30 minutes before a meal works well for most people.
Final thoughts on the best supplements
- What are the best vitamins and supplements to take daily? There is no clear answer to “what are the best supplements” because it depends on factors such as your gender, age, medical history, genetics, level of physical activity and diet.
- Some of the most common nutrient deficiencies among adult men and women include vitamin D, magnesium, iron, calcium, iodine, and vitamin B12. Examples of other supplements that also offer many benefits include probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, collagen, vitamins C and A, and zinc.
- Adults can benefit from taking supplements if they experience signs of nutrient deficiencies, such as fatigue, brain fog, muscle aches, poor recovery from workouts, acne, trouble sleeping, and digestive problems.
- You can likely benefit from supplementing with certain nutrients if you are vegetarian / vegan, pregnant or lactating, over 55 years of age, have a gut-related problem that interferes with absorption, are taking certain medications , have a history of alcoholism, are on a diet, are very stressed, or exercise vigorously.
- Some of the best supplements available today are food-based fermented vitamins that only include herbs, botanicals, and enzymes that help with absorption.