Taking dietary supplements has become a very common way of boosting health naturally. Paired with a healthy diet, it ensures that you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to function properly.
But with so many different supplements on the market today, it can be difficult to know what benefits they provide and which ones are really worth taking. To help you out, we’ve asked holistic pharmacist and author Sherry Torkos for her list of the top five supplements that most people can benefit from taking.
Multivitamin: In theory, your diet should give you all the nutrients you need. But in reality, the Standard American Diet typically falls short. To fill in the gaps, Torkos suggests a quality multivitamin/multimineral supplement. A multi can help provide a good foundation for your health, as well as extra protection when you’re stressed, sleeping poorly, or skipping workouts. A multi also helps your body convert the food you eat into better, more stable energy. Think of a multi as your own personal nutritional insurance policy. At a minimum, look for a one that contains the B vitamins, beta carotene, calcium, folate (not folic acid), magnesium, selenium, vitamins C, D, and E, and zinc.
Probiotic: Adding a clinically studied probiotic into your daily routine can support digestion and immune health. A quality probiotic can help your beneficial bacteria flourish and can keep harmful microbes in check. They can also help to manage gas, bloating, and other common GI issues. When choosing a probiotic Torkos suggests looking one that is shelf-stable—which means it can safely be stored at room temperature—and also make sure it is guaranteed to be viable at time of consumption. This makes it easy to take with you when you’re on the go.
There are many different types of bacteria in probiotic supplements and they each provide different benefits. These bacteria are organized into genus and species. For example, in the case of lactobacillus gasseri, “lactobacillus” is the genus and “gasseri” identifies the species. The species of bacteria you choose in your probiotic will depend on your health goals. Strains in the lactobacillus genus, for example, are generally helpful for boosting immunity and helping fend off allergies. Strains in the bifidobacterium genus, on the other hand, are linked closely to digestive health and can help reduce GI symptoms.
Greens: Incorporating greens into your daily routine can help nourish your body, especially if vegetables don’t play a major role in your diet. Greens are essential for a strong immune system, better gut health, healthy detoxification, and more. Most importantly, greens help keep your body’s pH in balance thanks to their alkalizing properties. Torkos recommends adding a nutrient-packed powdered green drink mix with chlorella, spirulina, kelp, wheatgrass, and barley grass to your daily routine. These greens are bursting with an array of concentrated vitamins and minerals. Be sure to check the ingredients in your pre-mixed powder to make sure you aren’t getting added sugar or artificial flavors.
Aged Garlic Extract: Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) is one of the most extensively researched herbal medicines available today and it offers a wide range of health benefits. Torkos says AGE is top of her list for heart health because it supports healthy blood pressure levels, keeps harmful cholesterol in check, protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation, increases adiponectin (a hormone that protect against insulin resistance), protects against clotting, and staves off plaque in arteries.1 AGE also helps to quell inflammation and promote better circulation. Torkos says that not just any garlic supplement will do. She recommends Kyolic AGE because it’s backed by solid clinical research, and it’s produced through a proprietary aging process that eliminates garlic odor and harsh side effects while maximizing its health benefits. A heart-healthy dose is 1,200 mg daily.
Need more targeted support? Additional nutrients can be added to a supplement containing AGE to focus on more specific health concerns. For instance, you may want to support overall cardiovascular health with a special emphasis on blood pressure. We recommend looking for an AGE supplement also containing nutrients like nattokinase and L-theanine—both of which can help to support healthy blood pressure levels.2,3
Fish oil: Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish and in smaller amounts in algae, nuts and seeds, play an important role in brain function, normal growth and development, and controlling inflammation. According to Torkos, getting enough omega-3s in your diet is hard unless you are eating fish a couple times a week. She suggests adding a quality fish oil supplement to ensure you are getting enough of these essential fatty acids. Taking a daily dose of omega 3-rich fish oil is also one of the easiest things you can do to protect your heart. Studies have shown that fish oil can help lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, and decrease the risk of certain cardiac events.4
Navigating the supplement aisle at your local health food store can be overwhelming. Hopefully we have provided you with guidance on some of the supplements that you should consider taking daily. But keep in mind that the information above is only a basic guide for supplements. The recommended nutrients and amounts will differ from person to person. To dial in what’s best for you, it’s wise to consult with your health care practitioner for a more personalized plan.
- The Heart of the Matter. Delicious Living. 2019 https://kyolic.com/healthyguides/Heart-Of-The-Matter/index.html?page=10
- Yoto A, Motoki M, Murae S, et al. Effects of L-theanine or caffeine intake on changes in blood pressure under physical and psychological stresses. Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 2012; 31(1): 28.
- Kim J, Gum S, Paik J, et al. Effects of nattokinase on blood pressure: a randomized, controlled trial. Hypertension Research. 2008; 31(8): 1583-8.
- Naini A, Keyvandarian N, Mortazavi M, et al. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on blood pressure and serum lipids in continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis patients. Journal of Research in Pharmacy Practice. 2015; 4(3): 135-141.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.