One of the most common questions I’m asked is “Should I be taking daily supplements and if so, which ones?” If you have read my blog or heard me speak you know I always say, “It’s not what you eat, it’s what you can digest and absorb.” In an ideal world, your diet would be pristine and your gut would be in perfect shape to digest and absorb all of the micro- and macronutrients you need to stay healthy. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many people living in the modern world.
Our Western diet is filled with nutrient-poor and calorie-dense processed foods, GMOs, and pesticides. Even our soil has become devoid of nutrients, which means the food that’s grown in it has declined in nutritional value1. We are constantly exposed to toxins in our food, water, air, and even personal care and cleaning products. Our stress levels have skyrocketed and many people are dealing with gut issues, such as Candida and SIBO, which interfere with proper nutrient absorption.
This combination of a decrease in nutrients in our food and an increase in stress, toxins, and gut issues such as leaky gut is why we can no longer get all of the vitamins and minerals we need from food alone, and why I believe everyone should use a few key supplements to maintain optimal levels of nutrients.
Because we are all unique individuals and biochemically different, the answer to which supplements should you take is not so black and white. In today’s world, I do believe that everyone should be taking supplements of some sort, however, the best supplement regimen for you may be different than what’s best for your mother or sister or brother. That being said, there are some essential supplements that I recommend everyone take.
1. High-Quality Multivitamin
Even if you’re following The Myers Way®, it’s likely that you may be deficient in some vitamins and minerals due to the decreased nutrients available in modern foods, increased stress levels and toxin exposure, and the increasing prevalence of gut issues. I do testing day in and day out in my clinic, and most of my patients come back with nutrient deficiencies. And yes, even those eating Paleo or Autoimmune Paleo diets! Since there is no way to know exactly which nutrients you’re deficient in without proper testing, I recommend a high-quality multivitamin to all my patients and their families.
If you want to test your nutrient levels at home, I recommend using a home micronutrient test fromLetsGetChecked. You can choose between the essential vitamin test, which tests the levels of vitamin D, B12, and E, a mineral test, or the full micronutrient test, which tests for the vitamins I mentioned and copper, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. The results are available online so you can share them with your functional medicine doctor.
I did TONS of research and simply could not find a multivitamin out there that offers the right quantity and quality of nutrients to help you fill the gaps in your diet and support total body health–that’s why I created my own!
The Myers Way® Multivitamin is high-potency and designed for optimal absorption and bio-availability because, as I said before, it’s what you digest and absorb that counts. I custom-formulated The Myers Way® Multivitamin to provide the widest range possible of vitamins and minerals in their most usable forms, which means methylated B vitamins, chelated minerals, vitamin D as cholecalciferol, and much more. And because of my own struggle Graves’ disease, my multi contains the ideal balance of nutrients to support vibrant thyroid health, including selenium, iodine, zinc, antioxidant vitamins C and E, plus other free radical scavengers.
If you’re brand new to the world of supplements and wondering where to begin, a daily multivitamin is the perfect place to start!
2. Omega 3
The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are widely publicized2. Omega-3s reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. And, because they are highly concentrated in the brain, omega-3 fatty acids are also important for memory, cognition, and behavior.
In addition to maintaining sufficient levels of omega-3, it’s also important to ensure you have a proper omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in your body. You need both of these fatty acids to stay healthy, however, problems arise when your intake of omega-6 fatty acids (which are often inflammatory) outweighs your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (which are anti-inflammatory)3.
Research suggests that humans evolved on a diet consisting of an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 1:1. The modern diet, which is full of processed foods, refined oils, and not enough fruits and vegetables, supplies an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 15:1 to 17:1. This ratio is highly inflammatory and a recipe for disease. That’s where Omega-3 supplements come in.
You want to be particularly careful about the source of your omega-3 supplements because they are extracted from fish, so many of them contain mercury. The ones I carry in my online store have been tested and certified mercury-free by a third party. Each softgel of our Omega-3 supplement provides 1300 milligrams of EPA and DHA – two omega-3 fatty acids that help balance your fatty acid ratio, reduce inflammation, and improve brain function. Those with rheumatoid arthritis or any other chronic pain condition can take up to 4 grams (3 softgels) a day to reduce inflammation and pain.
The future of medicine is turning toward your microbiome–the ecosystem of bacteria and other microbes that live in your gut–to prevent and reverse many diseases. We now know that nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, and up to 95% of your serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood) is produced in your gut4.
This means that if the balance of bacteria in your gut is thrown off, it can lead to a whole host of problems, including autoimmunity, depression, anxiety, and leaky gut, to name a few. Taking a probiotic every day can help keep your microbiome in balance, which promotes a healthy GI tract, relieves digestive discomfort, promotes a normal bowel pattern, and supports overall wellness.
Not all probiotics are created equal, though. Many probiotics contain a mixed bag of bacterial strains, are often grown using dairy, soy, or yeast, and usually need to be refrigerated, making them difficult to travel with. It’s best to take a broad-spectrum probiotic that includes bacterial strains that are naturally found in your gut, and have been researched and proven to boost gut health and immune response.
The probiotics I carry in my store contain four proven strains, are free of dairy, soy, and yeast, and do not need to be refrigerated because of their special packaging. I recommend 100 billion units daily for healing gut damage, infections, and imbalances, and 30 billion units daily for maintenance.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is unique in a couple of important ways. First, your body can make its own vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Second, vitamin D is converted into a hormone in your body. Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They travel through your blood to your tissues and organs activating chemical reactions that control everything from metabolism, to growth and development, to mood. Over 50,000 of the chemical reactions in your body require the presence of adequate amounts of vitamin D in your blood. Vitamin D contributes to bone strength, heart health, and cancer prevention. It also plays an important role in your immune system and can be a determining factor in whether or not you develop an autoimmune disease.
Studies estimate that one billion people worldwide have insufficient vitamin D levels and at least 3 million American adults are deficient5. However, the rate of true vitamin D deficiency is likely even higher, because research has found that the previously recommended levels of vitamin D were actually too low. I’ve checked the vitamin D levels of thousands of patients in my clinic and virtually all of them had below optimal levels, even those who were taking a vitamin D supplement.
Conventional medicine defines vitamin D3 levels of 30 to 100 ng/mL as normal, yet I always recommend keeping your vitamin D3 levels around 60 to 90 ng/mL for optimal health. If your vitamin D3 levels are low, you can take 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day until you reach your ideal level. The vitamin D supplement that I use and carry in my store combines vitamin D with vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin that is necessary for your body to properly absorb vitamin D. This combination D/K supplement is available as drops or capsules.
Never take more than 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day without a physician’s supervision and regular blood testing.
Bonus Supplement: Methylation Support™ (Methylated B-Vitamins)
By now, you’ve probably heard of MTHFR mutations (also called MTHFR defects), though you might not know exactly what having one of these mutations means.
Methylation is the biochemical process that helps turn toxins into safer substances that your body can remove. Basically, methylation allows you to detox effectively. Proper methylation depends on the presence of several vitamins and cofactors, including vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12.
When you have an MTHFR mutation, your body has difficulty converting these vitamins into forms that your body can readily use. If you have one MTHFR mutation, you absorb one-fifth of the amount of these vitamins as someone with no mutations. If you have two mutations, you absorb one-tenth. The vitamins may be present in your blood, however, if you can’t utilize and convert them, they’re useless.
Many conventional medicine doctors miss vitamin B deficiencies in those with MTHFR defects because standard lab testing looks at the number of B vitamins in your serum, rather than functional lab testing which is a better indication of your methylation needs.
In addition to genetics, poor diet, malabsorption of nutrients, toxic exposure, and certain medications can all interfere with proper methylation, so supporting the methylation process is always a good idea whether you have an MTHFR defect or not.
This is why I recommend a daily methylation support supplement. The one that I take and carry in my store contains pre-methylated vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folate, along with magnesium. For those with two mutations (like myself), I recommend two capsules a day, and for those with one or no mutations, I recommend one capsule a day. If you suspect an MTHFR defect, the blood test is offered through conventional labs, or you can use the saliva test offered through 23andMe.
Where Should I Purchase Supplements?
Supplements are an unregulated industry, and not all products are created equal. All of the supplements I carry in my store have been personally vetted by me and are pharmaceutical grade, meaning higher quality and often higher dosages than over the counter. They have also been tested by third-party companies to ensure that the ingredients are what they say they are and that they are free of gluten, dairy, soy, and corn (unless otherwise marked).
You certainly do not have to purchase your supplements from my store, however, if you do buy them elsewhere, always make sure to purchase supplements that meet Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) standards. The GMP seal means that the manufacturer has evaluated the purity, quality, strength, and composition of the supplement, that the supplement is safe to take, and that it’s exactly what the manufacturer says it is.
- Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?. Scientific American. 2011.
- 17 Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Freydis Hjalmarsdottir, MS. Healthline. 2018.
- The Importance of the Ratio of Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids. A P Simopoulos. NCBI. 2002.
- That Gut Feeling. Dr. Siri Carpenter. American Psychological Association. 2012.
- Vitamin D Deficiency Soars in the U.S., Study Says. Jordan Lite. Scientific American. 2009.