Almost every single day I get questions from people wondering, “What supplements should I be taking?” It’s an excellent question and an important one—because this stuff can be overwhelming and hard to navigate.
And the first thing I always respond with is this: Remember that supplements are meant to do exactly what their name suggests—supplement. So when there’s something you’re not getting from your diet, you supplement it.
I will always recommend you try to get all your nutrients from real, whole foods as part of a varied and balanced diet. If you’re following the nutrition principles I outlined back in that very first article, you’re already focusing on eating nutrient-dense foods—and you’re probably doing just fine with getting the nutrients you need. Plus, since our bodies are all uniquely our own, your supplementation should be tailored to your individual needs.
That said, there are a few supplements that have worked well for my clients and me—and may be worth considering.
When life gets busy, when we’re traveling, or just making not-so-fabulous food choices, a multivitamin can help us make up the difference for any nutrients we’re missing out on.
B vitamins are hugely important for helping your body convert the food you eat into energy. They also help us form blood cells. But since they’re mainly found in animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy, you may be falling short if you’re playing for team plant-based. A B-complex provides all eight of the B vitamins and can support mood, energy, metabolism, and your cardiovascular and nervous systems.
I’m willing to bet you’ve heard about this one before. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong bones because it helps the body absorb calcium. It’s also important for immune health. And though we can get it by spending time in the sun, it’s pretty tough to find in food—and about 40 percent of American adults are deficient.
Though K2 doesn’t get as much attention as calcium or vitamin D for bone health, it’s also a key player in supporting strong, healthy bones.
Fish Oil (Omega-3s)
The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA in fish oil help support your heart, brain, and eye health—which the Standard American Diet is typically lacking.
The mineral magnesium is needed for over 300 chemical reactions in the body and helps to produce energy, maintain muscle function, and support the nervous system. It also has a soothing effect on the body and can support sleep. Most Americans don’t meet their daily needs, so supplementing can be beneficial, especially if you’re physically active.
Whey or Plant-Based Protein
Protein is one of the three essential macronutrients, along with carbs and fat. But protein is special because it’s responsible for muscle growth and repair. And when you’re working out hard, getting ample protein is crucial for recovery and results. I like to use a protein supplement to make sure I’m getting my daily fill. It’s very helpful when you’re on-the-run and tastes great in smoothies!
Again, all of these nutrients are available in a variety of real, whole foods. But the simple fact of the matter is, life isn’t perfect and sometimes our diets break a little here and there. Just make sure to check in with your doc before adding any of these supplements to your routine—especially if you have any existing health issues.