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5 Best Supplements to Elevate Your Wellness

Supplements versus real food: which supplements should I take and what are their benefits?

If you’re looking for clarity surrounding the world of supplements, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide will walk you through common nutrient deficiencies, advise on when to supplement, share insights on finding high-quality supplements, and unveil my top five supplement recommendations.

Our modern lifestyles often lead to nutrient gaps in our diets. However, even with a balanced diet, factors like soil depletion, food processing, and individual variations can contribute to inadequate nutrient intake. Some common deficiencies include vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and B vitamins. We will address some of the symptoms below, but nutritional deficiencies can cause a variety of symptoms that can wreak havoc on our physical as well as mental health.

As a note: The content of this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet, exercise, medication, or other health-related routines.

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When to Supplement

Knowing when to turn to supplements is crucial. If you struggle to meet your nutritional needs through food alone or have specific health conditions impacting nutrient absorption, supplementation becomes valuable. Additionally, certain life stages, such as pregnancy or aging, may require extra nutritional support.

Before diving into the recommendations, it is important to understand the distinction between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K. While these vitamins are essential, it’s vital to note that excess intake poses risks. Unlike water-soluble vitamins (B and C), which are easily excreted, fat-soluble vitamins can accumulate in the body, leading to toxicity. Therefore, it’s crucial to adhere to recommended dosages and consult with a healthcare professional when incorporating fat-soluble supplements into your routine. Refer to the footnote at the end of this paragraph for a link to additional information on recommended doses of common vitamins and minerals.1

Blood work is a great place to start as well. If you are looking for an option to get the tests you need directly, Health Labs is a private, highly-rated, lab testing organization that can run over 500 tests with information on how to interpret the results. To reiterate the above, it is still advisable to work with a healthcare professional before making any dietary or medication changes.

How to Find High-Quality Supplements

Navigating the supplement aisle can be overwhelming. To ensure you’re getting the best quality, look for third-party testing, certifications, and transparent labeling. Supplements are not FDA-regulated so it is important to review each option with care. Choose supplements free from unnecessary additives and with bioavailable forms of nutrients.  

Now that we have addressed when to supplement and how to look for high-quality supplements, let’s take a look at a few of my recommendations. The five suggestions below are supplements that have some of the highest impact on overall energy and well-being. It is still the best recommendation to speak to a healthcare professional and have bloodwork done to address true deficiencies and adjust accordingly.


1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Best Choice

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
Nordic carries a variety of forms, including flavored gel capsules, chews, and liquid. They also have a variety of dosages available. Nordic Naturals meet all quality standards and don’t cause fishy burps.

Best Value

Now Supplements Ultra Omega-3
I have used so many brands and this works best for me when looking at price and quality. It also has a good ratio of EPA to DHA which is right around the recommended ratio for brain health.

Vegan Option

Nordic Naturals Algae Omega
These have a great balance of EPA and DHA when compared to many vegan options. The amounts are less than many fish oil options because algae bring the purest form of omega-3s, requiring less for the same result. The price is in line with their non-vegan formula as well.

Learn about Omega-3s


What are omega-3s? They consist of three main types: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are crucial for brain health, inflammation regulation, and cardiovascular well-being. Additionally, omega-3s play a pivotal role in cognitive function, cholesterol levels and potentially lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

A deficiency in omega-3s can look like fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, joint pain, and depression-like symptoms. On the opposite end, excessive intake can lead to blood thinning and reduced immune function. As with any nutrient, moderation is key.

How can you get omega-3s into your diet? First, try to incorporate more omega-3-rich foods as seen below. Also, most of us tend to have an imbalance of omega-3s to omega-6s. A big source of omega-6s is traditional grain-fed meats. Opting for grass-fed and limiting red meat consumption can help reduce omega-6s in your diet and better balance that ratio.2

If supplementation is needed, look for products that are molecularly distilled. Opt for supplements with both EPA and DHA omega-3s. For a focus on benefits in brain health, try to find a supplement with a ratio of about 60% EPA to DHA3. If you are unable to consume fish oil, Algae oil is a great alternative.


2. Vitamin D

BEst Choice

Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 (Vegan)
Most D3 options are derived from animal products. Pure has a few vegan-friendly options, including a liquid and capsule form. This specific supplement is just vitamin D3, but Pure has options that include K2 as well.

Best Value

Now Supplements Vitamin D3 K2 (Vegan)

Now offers a variety of D3 supplements in various levels and forms, including chewables. I use this currently as it provides a slightly lower price point without sacrificing quality. 

Learn about Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin primarily known for its role in calcium absorption and bone health. Vitamin D also influences immune function, mood regulation, and overall cellular well-being.

A deficiency in vitamin D can manifest as fatigue, muscle weakness, bone pain, and a weakened immune system. Excessive intake can cause nausea, weakness, and even kidney damage.4

Vitamin D is unique as it is primarily received through sun exposure. Typically 5-30 minutes daily of direct exposure without sunscreen is all that is needed. However, if you live in a colder climate, even direct exposure during the winter months is typically not enough. There are vitamin D rich foods which include fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks. Even with that, it is estimated that 50% of the world’s population has vitamin D insufficiency.5

When selecting a high-quality vitamin D supplement, opt for vitamin D3, the active form most effective in the body. Try to stay below the recommended upper limit of 4000 IU daily when choosing a supplement. Higher doses may be used in cases of severe deficiency under doctor supervision. Vitamin K is another fat-soluble vitamin that works to help balance calcium levels in partnership with vitamin D. It is important that both of these are in balance, so you will see a lot of vitamin D supplements that include vitamin K2 as well.


3. Magnesium

Best Choice

Klaire Labs Magnesium Chelate Powder (Vegan)
This magnesium comes in a fast-dissolving powder form. The blend is in the most bioavailable form. Klaire Labs is third-party tested and has high-quality standards.

Best Value

Now Supplements Magnesium Bisglycinate Powder (Vegan)

Now Supplements powder Magnesium allows you to be more specific with dosage. There is a capsule form available (which I currently use) at a higher price point if powder is not for you.

Learn about Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral essential on a cellular level. From energy production to muscle function to the synthesis of DNA, magnesium is a powerful force for overall health. Magnesium promotes relaxation, aiding in stress reduction, and supporting quality sleep. Beyond these calming effects, it contributes to bone health, blood pressure regulation, and glucose control.

Symptoms such as muscle cramps, loss of appetite, fatigue, and irregular heart rhythms may indicate a need for increased magnesium intake. The body generally does a great job at eliminating excess magnesium, but excessive intake can lead to adverse effects such as diarrhea and nausea. And, in rare cases, magnesium toxicity can occur, so it is still important to follow dosage guidelines.6 

Incorporating leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains helps to increase the magnesium in your diet. Even with a balanced diet, a study published in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine cites that it is likely that over half of Americans are deficient in magnesium. They also found that a deficiency in magnesium doesn’t allow for the proper metabolization of vitamin D in our body, making it essential to make sure we are getting sufficient amounts of both.7

Selecting a magnesium supplement involves considerations of absorption and form. There are multiple forms of magnesium, but not all of them are absorbed effectively. Magnesium glycinate is one of the most absorbable forms and offers a great deal of benefits. Also look for magnesium in a chelated form (may also be noted as bisglycinate), as it is the most bioavailable form and helps with absorption.


4. B-Complex Vitamins

Best Choice

Nordic Naturals Vitamin B Complex (Vegan)
Although I typically associate Nordic Naturals with their Omega-3 Supplements, they make a great B complex supplement that is Vegan and has all B vitamins in their methylated forms.

Best Value

Pure Encapsulations B-Complex Plus (Vegan)

Pure offers a B-complex at a very reasonable price point without sacrificing quality. It includes all B vitamins in the most bioavailable form and is vegan and allergen-friendly.

Learn about Vitamin B

B-complex vitamins are water-soluble and include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin). They are integral to red blood cell development, DNA synthesis, and neurotransmitter regulation. Beyond these foundational roles, they contribute to hair, nail, and skin health, as well as overall emotional well-being. They also aid in increased energy levels and metabolism and offer support for a healthy nervous system.

Deficiency in B vitamins commonly causes fatigue, irritability, dermatitis, and mood changes. There are also some different symptoms for specific B vitamins. As an example, you may see thinning hair and nails or dry skin as common symptoms of low levels of biotin (B6). Prolonged and extreme deficiencies can cause severe symptoms.8 

Where can I get B vitamins in my diet? Eggs, dairy products, green vegetables, meat, mushrooms, nuts, grains, and legumes are among the richest sources of B vitamins. However, even with a nutrient-packed diet, many factors can still lead to a deficiency. Because these are water-soluble, B vitamins do not store in the body so it is important to have regular intake of them. Consumption of alcohol, especially regularly and/or in excess, can lower B vitamins. Vegan diets typically lack sufficient intake of vitamin B12. Personal differences in how the body absorbs nutrients, the use of certain medications (such as contraceptive pills or metformin), and genetic differences (such as the MTHFR gene mutation) may also impact the levels of B vitamins in your body.9

When considering B-complex supplements, look for methylated forms (ie. methylfolate over folic acid) as these are better absorbed, particularly for those with MTHFR mutation. One thing you may notice is that a lot of B-complex supplements have well above the daily value percentage. Because a large number of people have some factor that may impact absorption, and because our body only uses what it needs of B vitamins and releases the rest, this is generally not a concern.10 With that being said – more is not always better. If you are paying for a higher dose and you don’t need it, you are literally flushing that extra money down the toilet.


5. Prebiotics and Probiotics

Best Choice

Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Synbiotic Prebiotic & Probiotic
This is great for those with sensitive stomachs. It is shelf-stable so it does not need to be refrigerated. Klaire Labs has other high-quality probiotics and blends to choose from as well. They are vegetarian and allergen friendly and are what I am currently using for my probiotic.

Best VaLUE

NOW Supplements Probiotic-10 (Vegan

This is a probiotic-only supplement but falls at a lower price point. It is a great option for those who are looking for a probiotic-only supplement and is vegan-friendly. They have a wide variety of options as well. They focus on sustainability, are family-owned, and GMP Quality Certified.

Vegan Option

Ritual Synbiotic+: Probiotic, Prebiotic, Postbiotic
This is a high-quality Synbiotic that is vegan-certified. It does come with a higher price point than a lot of other options out there, but it makes up for it with quality.

Learn about Prebiotics and Probiotics

Gut health is essential for overall health. Without a healthy gut, you are likely to experience improper breakdown of food and malabsorption of nutrients, have food intolerances, experience bloating, nausea, fatigue, and mood changes. Without a healthy gut, any changes you attempt to make to improve your wellness may be much less effective. So how do we get there? 

First, if you haven’t already, take a look at my post on Nutritional Balance. Those five steps are a great start. The other important factor is to make sure that you have a healthy amount of gut bacteria. A key part of that is to ensure you are consuming pre- and probiotics.

Prebiotics and probiotics work together to promote gut health. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide a multitude of health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. Prebiotics and probiotics work synergistically in fostering digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function. They also can help improve glucose and insulin numbers.

A few examples of prebiotic-rich foods include garlic, onions, artichokes, beets, asparagus, chickpeas, lentils, apples, and oats. You can incorporate probiotics into your routine through fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. There has also been a rise in pre- and/or probiotic sodas that can offer additional support. A couple of my favorites include Poppi and Olipop. 

If supplementing, consider factors like good strain diversity and colony-forming units (CFUs). If you are looking for a pre- and probiotic blend, look for the term Synbiotic.11


Conclusion

While supplements fill nutritional gaps, they’re not a substitute for a wholesome diet. Continue to aim for a diverse, nutrient-rich plate, incorporating a rainbow of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Supplements are great aids, enhancing your wellness journey, but real, whole foods remain the foundation of nutritional wellness.

With that, understanding common deficiencies, knowing when to supplement, and choosing high-quality options are key to getting the most out of supplements. Incorporating them strategically, alongside a well-rounded diet, offers a great balance in nutritional wellness. Your journey to elevated wellness starts with informed choices and a commitment to nourishing your body wisely.

As always, if you have questions, comments or suggestions, drop them below, or reach out in my contact me section. I look forward to hearing from all of you about your journey and I am here to support in any way I can.

  1. Harvard. “Vitamins and Minerals.” The Nutrition Source, 15 Feb. 2019, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins/. ↩︎
  2. National Institute of Health. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” Nih.gov, 2017, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/. ↩︎
  3. Mischoulon, David. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Mood Disorders.” Harvard Health Blog, 3 Aug. 2018, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/omega-3-fatty-acids-for-mood-disorders-2018080314414. ↩︎
  4. National Institutes of Health. “Vitamin D.” Nih.gov, 2023, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/. ↩︎
  5. Sizar, Omeed, et al. “Vitamin D Deficiency.” PubMed, StatPearls Publishing, 17 July 2023, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532266/. ↩︎
  6. National Institutes of Health. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium.” National Institutes of Health, 2016, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/. ↩︎
  7. Uwitonze, Anne Marie, and Mohammed S. Razzaque. “Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, vol. 118, no. 3, 1 Mar. 2018, p. 181, https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2018.037. ↩︎
  8. Hanna, Mary, et al. “B Vitamins: Functions and Uses in Medicine.” The Permanente Journal, vol. 26, no. 2, June 2022, pp. 89–97, https://doi.org/10.7812/tpp/21.204. ↩︎
  9. Dean, Laura. “Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase Deficiency.” Nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnology Information (US), 27 Oct. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK66131/. ↩︎
  10. Mayo Clinic. “Vitamin B-12.” Mayo Clinic, 10 Aug. 2023, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-b12/art-20363663. ↩︎
  11. Davani-Davari, Dorna, et al. “Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications.” Foods, vol. 8, no. 3, 9 Mar. 2019, p. 92. ↩︎

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