Dear Dr. Wendy,
I am a 32-year-old woman with no health issues. I feel like I should be taking supplements, but I have no idea how to choose. What should I be taking to maintain my good health?
A diet rich in whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and clean animal products will be rich in the nutrients that are essential to optimal health. Supplements are there to fill in the gaps to avoid deficiencies. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients, required in relatively small amounts while playing a large role in the body. In my opinion, a multi-vitamin and mineral, vitamin D, fish oil and probiotics are the basics requirements to maintaining your health.
Look for multivitamin brands that produce supplements using real, whole-food sources rather than synthetic ingredients to boost absorption and bioavailability. Synthetic multivitamins may actually do more harm than good when it comes to your health because they are often contaminated and contain harmful fillers, additives, food dyes, genetically modified cornstarch and hydrogenated fats. Instead, look for one that includes recognizable food names as ingredients.
Vitamin D supplementation is very important. There are very few food sources that contain therapeutic levels, and deficiency in the US is very common. The ideal way to determine your vitamin D status is to test your serum levels (50-70 ng/ml is optimal). As a general guideline, GrassrootsHealth suggests that adults need about 8,000 IUs per day to achieve a serum level of 40 ng/ml. When taking a vitamin D supplement, you also need to boost your intake of vitamin K2 (MK-7) through food and/or supplement. Most health food stores will sell a supplement that has both D3 and MK-7 together in one capsule.
Fish oil is one of nature’s richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. According to research conducted at Harvard University, omega-3 fatty acid deficiency is officially one of the top 10 causes of death in America, claiming the lives of up to 96,000 people each year. For most people, I recommend a 1,000-milligram dose of fish oil daily as a good amount and the most scientifically studied dosage.
Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. Look for one with “live and active cultures” that contains from 15 billion to 100 billion CFUs. I recommend shelf-stable (one that doesn’t have to be refrigerated). It should also contain plant starches and fiber as a prebiotic instead of sugar.
Taking good quality supplements can be an insurance policy for maintaining good health by filling in the gaps left by our diets. If you are experiencing specific health challenges then your needs may be different, so it is best to get advice from a professional.
Do you have a question to ask us? Please email them to Askcoach@haydenhealth.com.
**This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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Dr. Wendy Cunningham is a doctor of chiropractic, certified acupuncturist, and has her master’s degree in nutrition.