What Daily Supplements Do You Need for Optimal Health?



The new RDAs set for vitamin D had me thinking. In some ways medicine seems so advanced. And in other ways, we are in the beginning stages of figuring out the big picture and there are so many little components that haven’t been completely accounted for.


Nothing works in isolation in our body, which makes identifying all of the things one antioxidant or nutrient does and is responsible for difficult. And, though all Nissian Maximas built in the same year may look the same to a mechanic, you look nothing like the other males or females who are your same age (on the inside or the outside; unless of course, you have a twin).


Making things more complicated, the math is fuzzy at best. 1 + 1 doesn’t always equal 2 and sometimes we can’t even accurately add up the numbers on each side of this equation (how do you know your total vitamin D intake? Did you add it up based on what you ate today? How did you account for sun exposure and how much vitamin D you produced through this exposure?)


It All Depends On Interpretation

All of these factors make interpreting scientific studies in easy to understand terms for the masses, skewed at best. And therefore, any dietary guidelines that are given to an entire country, should be taken as just that, a general guideline. To figure out what levels of any nutrient, dietary supplement or food may be best for you given your health status, activity level, current dietary intake and goals; you need to sit down with a registered dietitian (RD) who specializes in your specific area of need or goal and let that RD take a comprehensive assessment of where you are, what you need and where you can improve. If you want to lose weight, go to someone who specializes in this, if you have Type 1 diabetes and you are an athlete, go to a RD who works with diabetic athletes.


Each Individual’s Needs are Unique

I understand all the angst for or against certain supplements or recommended intakes of specific supplements but, there is no one dietary recommendation that will ever fit all people. Therefore, you should take any recommendation as just that – a broad recommendation for all. And, if you think you are an outlier to the masses, talk to your physician or dietitian. I assure you, you aren’t alone. As a dietitian, I don’t follow some of the diet recommendations put forth by our government because I know the research and I know what my needs are.


After all, I’m going to do what’s best for me, and so should you.


Risk Making a Change for your Health

“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.”    ― James Bryant Conant


Ok, so how many of you would consider yourselves “risk-averse” with regard to your health?  Do you adopt “reasons” why you can’t do different things to improve your health?  Many of us do, and we all know change is difficult under the best of circumstances.


Getting healthy and making positive changes takes a certain amount of risk too.


We worry that working out harder could open us up to injury, or signing up for a yoga class takes more time away from our friends and families.  There are multitudes of small healthy things we make reasons not to do, like:
buying fresh fruits and vegetables regularly,
+ incorporating vitamin and mineral supplements into a daily routine
+ taking a walk at lunchtime
+ seeing the doctor for a long overdue checkup.
 = But they all add up over time to a healthier you!


So take a risk…pick a few…commit to even one.   


The value to your health is definitely worth the risk of inconveniences like re-prioritizing a daily schedule, or adding an extra step to your morning routine to down much needed supplements like a daily multivitamin and a dose of calcium plus vitamin D3 .


Dance on the wild side a little further and try a different dosage form like liquids to take your supplements. High quality liquid supplements are an easy way to adapt to taking what you need daily – put it all in a smoothie for breakfast as you rush out the door.


Stick your neck out there and do not let a little risk stand in the way of healthy progress.

Do You Need Mega Vitamins or are they a Mega Rip-off?

More isn’t always better. And in fact, when it comes to vitamins and minerals, you want to get enough for good health but more than what you need will not cure, prevent or treat any ailment or disease. According to the FDA, “high potency” can be used on the label of a multivitamin/mineral supplement if at least two-thirds of its nutrients contain at least 100% of the daily value. Therefore, while “high potency” may be okay, mega may mean a mega rip-off if you are paying more for the supplement.

Now, what about the special formulas targeted to seniors, women, men or kids?

The doses of vitamins and minerals in children’s vitamins and vitamin supplements for seniors are, or should be, adjusted for these specific age groups. However, it is up to the company to decide what they are going to put in each of those formulas. There is no standard definition or regulation determining what should go in a specialized formula.

So, be a sleuth and take a look at what you are getting and, be realistic about whether or not you are actually going to take it. Consider the dose, usage recommendations (with food, or on an empty stomach) and form of the supplement (liquid, pill, tablet, soft gel or chew) and how many doses you need per day.

Look for a high quality liquid multivitamin nutritional supplement that contains at least 100% of the daily value of the B Complex vitamins, and essential vitamins such as A, C, E, & D.  Taking all these nutrients each day will ensure you are getting at least the minimum amounts you need each day.