Even with a perfect diet, the combination of many things –including our depleted soils, the storage and transportation of our food, genetic alterations of traditional heirloom species, and the increased stress and nutritional demands resulting from a toxic environment – make it impossible for us to get the vitamins and minerals we need solely from the foods we eat. Simply put, the evidence shows we cannot get away from the need for nutritional supplements.
Doctors used to think you got all your vitamins and minerals from food. Any extra nutrients were excreted, or worse, became toxic. But the tide is shifting. Doctors now prescribe over one billion dollars in fish oil supplements. Most cardiologists recommend folate, fish oil, and coenzyme Q10. Gastroenterologists recommend probiotics. Obstetricians have always recommended prenatal vitamins.
Emerging scientific evidence shows the importance of nutrients as essential helpers in our biochemistry and metabolism. They are the oil that greases the wheels of our metabolism. And large-scale deficiencies of nutrients in our population – including omega-3 fats, vitamin D, folate, zinc, magnesium, and iron – have been well documented in extensive government-sponsored research.
With that being said, it’s important to know what supplements to take daily. I cannot stress the following enough — everyone is different. The best way to determine what supplements you need is to work with a practitioner. There are, however, a few supplements that most people should look into, and they are definitely a part of my daily routine.
HIGH-QUALITY, HIGH-POTENCY, COMPLETE MULTIVITAMIN
The right multivitamin will contain all the basic vitamins and minerals. Keep in mind that getting the optimal doses usually requires 2 to 6 capsules or tablets a day. Some people may have unique requirements for much higher doses that need to be prescribed by a trained nutritional or Functional Medicine physician.
The vitamin D deficiency is epidemic, with up to 80 percent of modern day humans being deficient or suboptimal in their intake. Depending on what is in your multivitamin, I recommend taking additional vitamin D. Vitamin D3 improves metabolism by influencing more than 200 different genes that can prevent and treat diabetes and metabolic syndrome. For serious deficiencies, you may need more vitamin D, as much as 5,000 to 10,000 IU a day for 3 months or more. Do this with your doctor’s supervision, if needed.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS (EPA AND DHA)
These important fats improve insulin sensitivity, lower cholesterol by lowering triglycerides and raising HDL, reduce inflammation, prevent blood clots and lower the risk of heart attacks. Fish oil also improves nerve function and may help prevent the nerve damage common in diabetes.
NAC (N-ACETYL CYSTEINE)
ALPHA LIPOIC ACID
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals, supports liver function, boosts metabolism, enhances absorption of certain vitamins, and helps turn calories into energy in the muscles.
NICOTINAMIDE ADENINE DINUCLEOTIDE (NAD+)
NAD+ has been popping up everywhere, and there’s a good reason why. NAD+ is a key component of the citric acid cycle and the electron transport chain, both involved in mitochondrial production of ATP for energy. In addition to its importance in cellular energy production, NAD+ is a critical substrate for several enzymes, including sirtuins (SIRT1 and SIRT3, in particular), which play key roles in healthy aging, weight management, metabolic syndrome, and hepatic lipid metabolism.
These are a few of my key, daily supplements. I encourage my patients to think of supplements as part of their diet. You want the best-quality food and the best-quality supplements you can buy, so quality is a very important part of choosing supplements. I love brands such as Metagenics, Pure Encapsulations, and Thorne. Work with a practitioner to find the best supplements for you.