Which Supplements Do I Really Need?

28-Jun-2016 | Jessica L. LaPlante

For people who are interested in improving their health through the use of vitamins and supplements, the selection process can be pretty overwhelming. There are countless brands of vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements and entire stores dedicated to this ever growing industry. When I ask patient’s if they are currently using any of these products, the answer ranges from “no” to “I have an entire cupboard full”. The right supplements for each person depend on their individual needs. However, there are a few supplements that I recommend to everyone.

  • Omega-3 supplements containing both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) at doses around 1000 mg are important for several aspects of health. They are good for heart and neurologic health, decreasing inflammation, improving the appearance and health of skin, vision and mental health. This important nutrient can also be consumed in the form of fresh fish. However, most people to do not have the resources to eat fresh fish each day, so this is an easy alternative. The greatest barrier I hear to people utilizing this important supplement, is a fear of the “fishy aftertaste”. There are numerous products available now that are filtered with a lemon or other fruit taste to alleviate this concern.
  • Vitamin D3 is another important nutrient that can be acquired through the diet and the sun. However, people who live in this area, just don’t see enough sun to get the necessary amount of Vitamin D3. When I draw blood levels of Vitamin D in a patient who does not take a supplement, the result comes back very low. Even in patients who take 1000-2000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day, the result is usually deficient or on the low side of normal. Vitamin D is an important nutrient for the immune system, bones and teeth. It is beneficial for people suffering from autoimmune disorders, bone disorders, depression, diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis. The RDA of Vitamin D3 is just 400 IU/day, however, most people living in this area would benefit from much higher doses. The correct level for you can be adjusted and monitored through blood tests.
  • Probiotics are the the third important supplement for optimal health. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial. The body is full of “healthy” and “harmful” bacteria, but probiotic supplements help keep the balance tipping in favor of healthy. They promote an efficient digestive system and a robust immune system. Probiotics are most commonly used to treat IBS, diarrhea and vaginal or urinary tract infections.

Although there are several other supplements that are beneficial, these are the three products that I believe have the most “bang for your buck” to improve your over-all well being.

 

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