- Find out which supplements even the healthiest people often need and why.
- Learn why digestive enzymes should accompany any vitamin or supplement regimen.
Everyone needs essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to survive. More importantly, everyone needs essential nutrients to live a long and healthy life. We get these essentials from the foods we eat, but sometimes, we have limited access to all the foods we need. No matter where you live or how well you eat, everyone can end up lacking a specific vitamin or mineral, creating an imbalance in their nutrient intake. When this happens, we often turn to supplements. Supplements are not a replacement for a healthful, balanced diet, but they are a way to fill gaps and boost nutrient intake where we may be deficient.
In the following list, you’ll discover the most common dietary supplements most people are lacking and why, how to supplement your diet, and how to choose the best supplements for your individual needs.
What supplements should I take every day?
While the specific supplements you choose will vary by individual and the complex influences on your health and diet, some several vitamins and minerals tend to need supplementation more than any other. You might want to track these in your diet or bloodwork because of the vast majority of Americans who are consistently lacking even the minimum recommended daily amount.
One of the few vitamins that our bodies cannot produce naturally, vitamin B12 is necessary for a healthy nervous system, the prevention of heart disease, and the ability to form red blood cells. Vitamin B12 boosts energy levels and can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s also great for healthy hair, nails, and skin, which often puts it at the top of the list for over 40 and is seeing the effects of natural aging.
Unfortunately, this vitamin has limited sources. It is found in animal-based foods, such as meat, milk, fish, and shellfish. Those who focus on a plant-based diet, or who are vegetarian and vegan and those who are over the age of 50 need to find alternatives, such as supplements.
Many choose blue-green algae. While blue-greens is one of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet, it contains a pseudovitamin B12 that is inactive in humans. For those who prefer to go without meat, the best plant-based source of vitamin B12 is nori, a red algae seaweed species, and mushrooms, specifically Black Trumpets and Golden Chanterelles.
Calcium & Magnesium
Most people think of their bones when they consider their calcium intake. This mineral is also crucial for healthy nerves and muscles. Magnesium is also crucial for regulating nerve and muscle function as well as the development of protein, bone, and DNA.
Together, these two minerals are imperative for your health, but they can work together or against each other. Magnesium helps your body absorb and retain calcium. However, too much calcium will prevent the absorption of magnesium. Meaning, if you are getting large amounts of calcium without adequate amounts of magnesium can actually cause a magnesium deficiency. Taking them together is the best way to ensure your body is getting enough of both. As a loose guide, consider taking them in a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium.
The best-known foods are dairy products because they have the highest amount of calcium per serving. However, you can also choose large quantities of fortified soymilk, seeds (i.e., sesame, chia, poppy, and celery), beans and lentils, almonds, some dark leafy greens (i.e., collard greens, spinach, and kale), rhubarb, edamame, tofu, and figs. Because foods, other than dairy and fortified foods, require large servings to get the calcium needed, many people on plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian diets choose to supplement their calcium intake.
Dairy products and fortified foods are also a great source of magnesium; still, for those who avoid animal products or who stick to whole foods, it’s much easier to get your magnesium by choosing legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and the same leafy vegetables as calcium (i.e., spinach and kale).
Ultimately, it can be challenging to get these two minerals in the proper proportions to ensure a healthy body, so supplementation may be a wise choice.
Vitamin D is one of those vitamins that is commonly overlooked. In fact, vitamin D is so often ignored in the American diet and lifestyle that it is one of the top prescribed vitamins for adults’ deficiencies.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth, digestive and immune health, and brain health. In fact, too little and too much vitamin D lead to mental health and brain disorders. Luckily, there is a wide range between the upper and lower limits before brain health is affected.
The best way to get vitamin D is sunlight. However, this can be more difficult than people realize. Winter often comes with less sunlight in many regions. Places like Alaska, where sunlight can be limited for the majority of the year, are places where vitamin D deficiency is common.
Even Colorado, a state that boasts 300 days of sunshine a year, and a notably large population of outdoor enthusiasts, and a higher elevation than most of the rest of the country, has a large population of people who suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. This surprising gap is because the higher elevation and distance from the equator means the UVB rays are at the wrong angle most of the year for people to be able to get the vitamin D they need.
Plus, applying sunscreen is an ever-increasing daily ritual that offers protection from skin cancer and premature aging, but blocks UVB rays, reducing the amount of sun you need to get your daily dose of vitamin D.
Adults, in particular, are unlikely to get enough sunshine, nor enough of the right foods to get their vitamin D. That means choosing a vitamin supplement may be the best choice.
Foods with vitamin D include oily fish and dairy products. Since plant-based diets are preferable, large quantities of dark leafy greens, soybeans, and white beans are the best choice. High-quality supplements may be a good choice, but always consult your doctor to avoid overexposure.
Maintaining the right iron levels means you can maintain a healthy immune system, help your body regulate temperature, and have the essential mineral needed to keep your energy levels high.
Without enough iron, red blood cell production may be slow and can lead to anemia. In particular, women are at risk of anemia because they lose iron while menstruating, especially those with a heavy flow. Those who regularly donate blood can be at risk if they aren’t ensuring that they get enough iron.
Diet, however, is the most common reason people end up with an iron deficiency. Meat is a heavily relied upon source of iron. Vegetarians, vegans, and those who rely on a plant-based diet are at risk if they don’t actively pursue an iron-rich diet through other sources.
Iron-rich foods commonly relied upon include red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, and iron-fortified cereals, bread, and pasta. However, other foods can help you successfully achieve the recommended daily allowance. Those include beans, peas, dark leafy greens, such as spinach, and dried fruits, such as apricots and raisins.
It’s easier for the body to absorb iron from meat than from plant sources. Luckily, vitamin C enhances the body’s ability to absorb iron. That means drinking citrus juices and eating vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamin C will help your iron absorption. Examples of these fruits and vegetables include broccoli, grapefruit, leafy greens, melons, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes.
Because iron can be easy to lose and difficult to maintain, many choose to supplement their iron intake. Choosing high-quality iron supplements is crucial. You might also consider blue-green algae. As one of the most nutrient-rich substances on the planet, blue-green algae is relied upon for many supplemental purposes, iron being one of them.
Depression, anxiety, vision, brain health, inflammation, and sleep can all be positively affected by getting adequate amounts of Omega-3. DHA omega-3 most commonly comes from fatty fish oil, so the FDA recommends at least two servings a week of salmon, mackerel, or herring.
However, many don’t eat fish, which means an alternative source of omega-3 is necessary. Some choose to supplement with fish oil capsules, which can be off-putting because of the fish smell that commonly accompanies fish oil capsules.
Those who are strict vegetarians or vegan, or those who prefer plant-sources for all vitamins and minerals, really only have one alternative. Blue-green algae is one of the most nutrient-rich supplements available. It’s plant-based but contains many of the vitamins and minerals that are commonly sourced from animal products.
Because omega-3 is typically sourced from fish, some seaweeds as a snack, and blue-green algae as a supplement are considered healthy alternatives for the same nutrition.
You can have the best diet in the world, but if you aren’t able to access the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, you won’t be functioning at optimal health, and you may suffer from several deficiencies.
Choosing the best digestive enzymes is, however, a challenge. Consumers need to know how to choose high-quality plant enzyme supplements that will deliver on the promise of bioavailability, nutrient absorption,
It’s also worth noting that many of the vitamin and mineral deficiencies mentioned today are more common in those who choose a healthful plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan diet. This is partially due to the superior bioavailability of some of these vitamins in meat-based sources. As mentioned during the discussion on iron, heme (animal sourced) iron is easier for the human body to access than non-heme (plant-based) iron.
Or in the case of Vitamin B12, a vitamin that is only found in meats and fortified foods, for example, consumers need a way to process the B12 in blue-green algae supplements.
Choosing high-quality plant enzyme supplements not only means you are benefiting from digestive enzymes you can actually use, but you are also ensuring the proper breakdown and absorption of the vitamins and minerals that are needed most.
Most people regularly face significant nutrient gaps and deficiencies, whether they are athletes or sedentary, can afford healthful food or not, and regardless of dietary choices such as plant-based, vegetarian, and vegan.
Supplements can’t replace a healthy diet, but even healthy diets can result in deficiencies.
Supplements offer a reliable solution to vitamin and deficiencies, but consumers need to be sure to choose high-quality supplements, such as sources that are plant-based, non-GMO, high-potency, filler-free, FDA-approved, and more.
Your choice of vitamins and minerals to supplement will depend on your blood tests and any discussion you have with your physician. However, there are several common vitamins and minerals discussed here that you may want to consider supplementing. These vitamin choices were discussed because they are consistently lacking from a wide range of American diets.
Above all, plant-based enzymes supplements are an essential part of the implementation process. They ensure optimal gut health and are also to those who are maintaining a plant-focused diet.
Living a long, healthy, and happy life is possible when you choose to thoughtfully and carefully supplement your diet so your body can access and process everything it needs.
- B12 difficult for those over 50 https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-b12-deficiency-can-be-sneaky-harmful-201301105780
- Blue-green algae contains pseudovitamin B12 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23782218/
- Blue-green algae contains B12 that is inactive in humans https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17959839/
- Nori for B12 intake https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10794633/
- Calcium foods https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/10-calcium-rich-foods
- Magnesium https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/
- Vitamin prescriptions https://www.drugs.com/condition/vitamin-mineral-supplementation.html?category_id=&include_rx=true&show_off_label=true&submitted=true
- Vitamin D at elevation https://www.dailycamera.com/2013/12/10/what-you-need-to-know-about-vitamin-d/
- Sunscreen blocks vitamin D https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/6-things-you-should-know-about-vitamin-d
- Iron deficiency https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355034
- Iron and blue-green algae https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-923/blue-green-algae
- Omega-3 common deficiency https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3992162/
- Omega-3 sources https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
- Blue-green algae and omega-3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3576896/
- Seaweeds and Omega-3 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-seaweed#section3
- Digestive enzymes some benefits https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4923703/
- Digestive enzymes aid in digestion https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-you-need-to-take-digestive-enzymes/
- Heme and non-heme iron https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/iron/
- Vitamin B12 intake https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4595032/