When it comes to approaching self-care and wellness, sharing supplement recommendations has always felt decidedly more personal than sharing a favorite skincare product.
For me, it’s because while skincare products can be tested and take place superficially, supplements are more intensive in that they must be consumed. The experience is also more personal, requiring an investment of time, resources and physical well being. Taking the wrong nutraceutical can be detrimental to health, which is why I’m always a little uncomfortable when I see a health store post about their favorite ginseng tonic on their Instagram, as I know that a 20-something year old follower is going to buy it and probably get high blood pressure.
At the same time, I think we should talk about what we’re using rather than continue to muddle through mixed information independently. So with much care and precaution, here’s my current supplement routine:
I get most of my vitamins from Vitacost (this post is NOT sponsored by them) because they are very transparent about sourcing (organic, non-gmo, whole food based supplements, etc.), have better quality management than Amazon (which is important when it comes to supplement integrity) and tend to be priced competitively – they’re currently running a promotion for 15% off whole food based vitamins and superfood powders right now with code WHOLE17.
I gravitate toward whole food based vitamins which the body recognizes. The major benefit beyond better nutrient absorption is the avoidance of long term risks associated with taking synthetic vitamins as several studies have found either no benefit or adverse results from taking the lab made forms of multivitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin B and so forth.
I also look for a non-GMO certification with whole food forms of vitamins because GMO foods have been linked to many things including inflammation (coincidentally most Americans suffer from mild acute inflammation which can be confirmed through ordering a C-Reactive protein or Plasma Viscosity test). If no GMO certification is available, it is also helpful to look at the ingredients list to avoid: soy, wheat, corn derivatives as the majority of these crops are GMO, at least in the US.
My multivitamin comes from New Chapter. Their Every Man Whole Food Multivitamin is one of the most complete and balanced sources of vitamins and minerals I’ve discovered. Similar to face oils, vitamins require concentrated levels of plants for extractions so I appreciate that most of the ingredients are organically sourced, knowing that toxic insect repellant sprays and fertilizers with artificial growth hormones do not make their way into the supplement. Since moving toward this vitamin, I’ve immediately noticed my hair and nails growing quickly and looking more sturdy. Over the past few years I’ve recommended this vitamin to several friends and family and have only heard positive feedback from testimonies of increased energy level to better skin quality. It’s much pricier than conventional multivitamins but no one who has made the switch has went back. If there was one nutraceutical to splurge on, I recommend investing in the multivitamin as it is the most comprehensive. (They also have one of the best pre-natal multivitamins for women that most of my friends in their 20s and 30s swear by)
My parents (and basically my entire extended family) have been taking fish oil since the the 90s and it has passed onto me as well. Fish Oil is an excellent source of Omega-3’s healthy fats which have anti-inflammatory, joint and cardiovascular benefits. Besides these essential benefits, fish oil is also known as a “vanity” supplement as they’re great for skin and eye health. Basically, this prevents you from aging like a dried raisin and is especially useful if you work out as it lubricates joints to stave off long term strain or injury. The main concern when choosing a fish oil supplement is the source. I prefer the Nutrigold Triple Strength Omega-3 Gold softgel because it comes from sustainable wild Alaskan pollack which is the best managed source for fish oil. Wild fish have also been scientifically proven to be more nutrient dense and possess lower levels of contaminates. The sustainable wild Alaskan pollack also comes from the isolated Bering sea region which is incredibly low in pollution and the processing filters out any trace levels of mercury and other heavy metal toxins.
THE EYE VITAMIN – LUTEIN
Lutein is known as the “eye vitamin” and it is basically a carotenoid high in beta-carotene and Vitamin A. Some studies indicate that it has light filtering benefits that protect eye tissues from sun damage while most scientific evidence shows that lutein is effective in preventing macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts. It is most beneficial to take lutein with zeaxanthin for more broad spectrum protection, the supplement I recommend contains both. I take Lutein because like most people of my generation, I’m nearsighted and spend a lot of my time in front of a computer. This is basically the least I can do to prevent my vision from degenerating further.
THE STRESS VITAMIN – VITAMIN B
Vitamin B is the vitamin for type-a, stress-o-holics that I started taking to mitigate all nighters as college student. Vitamin B plays a key role in most of our vital processes including cognitive, energy production, metabolism, blood cell production, immunity, stress management, and skin health. Although the conventional belief is that supplements take time to show benefits, Vitamin B is the one supplement that has an immediate causal effect for me. When I get stressed or jet lagged, one of the key physiological indicators I experience is a sore/blister on my tongue that can be cured within 12 hours by taking a B supplement high in Vitamin B12. Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code Raw B-Complex is a great comprehensive supplement that has a very balanced level of all the essential B Vitamins including B12 (which gets depleted by stress). The fact that it is raw means that the nutrients are intact (heat processing kills many nutrients in plants), and the organic/non-gmo sourcing puts this over the top in terms of quality.
THE IMMUNITY BOOSTER – VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is one of those vitamins that I take on and off because my doctor advised taking it periodically is better for the body than constant intake which may expel most of the nutrients and tax the kidneys. For this reason I take a low dose whole food Vitamin C (500 mg) for better control of Vitamin C levels based on my diet and needs (if I feel under the weather, I just up the dosage). In terms of benefits, I mainly take Vitamin C to support my immune system although it has also been heralded as a skin health supplement due to its ability to stimulate collagen production.
Last but not least, I take Vitamin D because like most people who live in cities, I’m deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is a chronic condition that impacts a lot of people due to low exposure to sunlight and the fact that Vitamin D is rarely naturally present in most foods. This vitamin is important for bone health and the vital biological process of modulating healthy cell growth and genetic protein coding. However before purchasing a supplement, I recommend getting blood work done to see where your level falls into the range, and your physician will be able to tailor a custom dosage to get you into the “good zone”. Most Vitamin D on the market is too concentrated and my physician recommended taking at most 2000 IU a day (intake can be increased during the winter). For that reason I take the Vitacost brand Vitamin D3 (the most effective form that is identical to the form our bodies naturally produce) in the 1000 IU softgel variant.
That does it for my daily supplements. It’s important that we’re all clear that everyone has different needs and that it is ideal to take supplements based off of scientific data to ‘supplement’ what our body is lacking rather than follow trends or celebrity endorsements. I tend to agree with the sentiment of many detractors that randomly jumping onto the next supplement fad will, in most scenarios, just lead to paying for really expensive urine as the body will just expel what we don’t need. If you noticed, I generally consult with my physician to ensure I’m taking what my body needs and in the optimal form/dosage. If you’re taking any of these Vitamins already and looking for a better source, I hope this has been helpful.
Are there other great brands out there that you want to share? Leave a comment!