Knowing which supplements to take every day is no easy feat. From amazing claims on labels implying that what is found in the bottle is essential for every ailment under the sun to Instagram influencers pushing their must-have concoction, knowing which pills are worth taking can be easier said than done.
As a registered dietitian, I look to supplements as a way to fill in nutritional gaps that may happen because of an imbalanced diet. While I don’t generally recommend a multivitamin for every person, I do suggest supplementing with certain nutrients in a targeted way, especially if a person is limiting or avoiding certain food groups. (Related: Dangerous Side Effects of Giving Up Carbs, According to Science.)
Taking certain supplements doesn’t come risk-free. And seemingly harmless common supplements can come with risk in certain cases. For example, one recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that, after evaluating almost 200 randomized controlled trials showed that supplementing with higher doses of niacin (with statins) and the antioxidants vitamins A, C and E were associated with an increased risk of all causes of death.
When evaluating which supplements you are going to take on a daily basis, be mindful of recommended doses, any potential drug-nutrient interactions, and whether your body really needs that nutrient. Your best bet is to get the green light from your health care provider before you start taking any supplement, no matter how natural and harmless they may sound.
If you are planning on adding any daily supplement to your healthy lifestyle regime, here are seven that I encourage people to consider and discuss with their heath care providers. While they won’t meet every single person’s needs, they do fill in nutritional gaps that are quite common and can help people meet their health goals in a simple way. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Urinary tract infection prevention isn’t top of mind for everyone—but if you have ever experienced the unpleasantness that is a UTI, you would likely welcome any remedy to keep another infection at bay. This infection is one of the most frequent clinical bacterial infections in women, with around 50-60% of women experiencing this infection in their lifetime.
Using cranberries to keep your urinary tract healthy isn’t just an old wives’ tale. These tart berries contain a natural compound that helps prevent the harmful bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract wall, thus preventing an infection (and the associated pain).
There is enough data to support this relationship that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a qualified health claim about cranberry supplements, stating, “consuming 500 milligrams each day of cranberry dietary supplement may help reduce the risk of recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI) in healthy women. FDA has concluded that there is limited scientific evidence supporting this claim.”
Taking a cranberry supplement that also contains D-Mannose, a natural sugar (also found in cranberries) that has been linked to UTI risk reduction too, like Zhou Cran Defense can give your urinary tract a 1-2 punch in the UTI prevention department.
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Most Americans are not eating the recommended amount of oily fish, leaving them with some potential nutritional gaps—particularly DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3s are linked to the majority of documented omega-3 fatty acid health benefits, including an increase in insulin sensitivity, reduced risk of developing coronary heart disease, and even offers beneficial effects on depression symptoms.
Including a krill oil, like Kori Krill Oil, can help fill nutrition gaps, especially if you are not a seafood lover.
Krill oil may offer superior absorption over fish oil because it delivers Omega-3 EPA and DHA in its natural phospholipid form.
Read more: The #1 Best Fish to Eat, According to a Dietitian
Certified sustainable, Kori Krill Oil also naturally contains choline, an essential nutrient that supports brain and nervous system health, and astaxanthin, an antioxidant that gives krill oil its red color.
Calcium and magnesium are two minerals that are incredibly important for our bone health and heart health. Unfortunately, many of us are falling short when it comes to eating calcium and magnesium-rich foods (especially dairy foods).
Including a calcium and magnesium combo, like Pure Encapsulations Calcium Magnesium can help keep your bones in tip-top shape. Bonus? Taking magnesium in the evening may also have a calming effect, which may help you get some restful zzz’s at bedtime, just like The #1 Best Thing to Eat for Better Sleep, Says a Dietitian.
Choline is a nutrient that hasn’t gotten as much attention as it should. Known for supporting brain health, adequate levels have been linked to better memory and processing. Some data even goes as far as to suggest that choline supplementation may reduce Alzheimer’s Disease pathology.
Found in foods like egg yolks and liver, approximately 90% of the American population is not eating enough choline. So, unless you fall into the minority category, taking a choline supplement, like Douglas Labs Choline Bitartrate can be a good move to help protect your brain health.
If you want to protect your peepers from the damaging blue light that comes from the sun and your beloved screens, then you need to make sure that you are taking in certain carotenoids—namely lutein and zeaxanthin.
These carotenoids accumulate in the back of your eye, essentially acting like a filter to protect your vision center from damage.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in certain colorful fruits and veggies. Since only 1 in 10 Americans are eating the recommended amount of produce per day, it’s not a stretch to assume that they are also not getting in enough lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are also found in colorful food like egg yolks and pistachios.
If you are not eating the rainbow, including a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement, like Zhou Screen Eyes Gummies will give you a boost of carotenoids to help keep your eyes sharp. And taking them every day will help you maintain healthy levels in your eyes.
For females who are in their reproductive years (approx. between the ages of 16-45), taking in 400 mcg of supplemental folic acid is recommended by experts, including the American College of Gynecology. Some people may require a higher dose based on their risk factors.
Folic acid deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of having a baby with birth defects. So making sure that your levels are up-to-par before you are with child will be a key step in having a healthy pregnancy.
And if you are saying to yourself that you aren’t actively trying, and therefore don’t need to be concerned about pregnancy outcomes, know that unintended pregnancies can (and do) happen. In fact, in 2011, a whopping 45% of pregnancies were unplanned in the United States.
So, if you find yourself in this demographic, taking 400 mg of folic acid every day, like Nature’s Made Folic Acid, is incredibly important to take, along with eating a balanced diet.
Some people’s bodies can not break down folic acid, and therefore need to take a methylated form of this nutrient, called methylfolate. Your health care provider can tell you whether folic acid or folate is the best form to take for your own personal needs.
Thanks to our indoor lifestyle, our need to slather on SPF sunscreen, and often times living in cities that are surrounded by sun-blocking skyscrapers, our bodies are not getting the sun exposure that it needs in order to create important vitamin D.
Yes, vitamin D is made in our skin when it is exposed to the sun. But our lifestyles are preventing our bodies from making enough to meet our needs, and as a result, many of us are deficient in this key nutrient.
Approximately one billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency. And lower levels of this nutrient have been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, depression, and infection.
Especially in the cooler months when we are not out in the sunshine, taking a vitamin D supplement, like Now Nutrition Vitamin D, is a good idea to maintain healthy levels.
A word of caution—don’t mega-dose with this vitamin unless you are under the supervision of a health care provider. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, your body will not rid itself of excess.
And for more, check out Surprising Side Effects of Not Getting Enough Vitamin D, Says Science.