What Supplements Should I Take? Here's What You Need To Know
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
- Considering taking a supplement?
- Learn which ones you should take and which may not be worth your time.
If we’re honest, most of us aren’t getting the right amounts of vitamins and nutrients in our diets.
Long days, late nights, and busy schedules can cause our diets to become collateral damage, with takeout reigning supreme five nights a week.
Thanks to advances in modern science, we don’t have to rely on our abilities in the kitchen to make sure our bodies get everything they need. Supplements can help fill in the gaps in our diets, giving us the good stuff we might be missing.
There’s just one problem: From vitamin B12 to echinacea to turmeric, there is a never-ending supply of supplements to consider. The supplement aisle is long, and even though it’s alphabetized most of us still don’t know which dietary supplements we should be taking and why.
Here’s what you need to know about multivitamins, supplements, and what you should be taking to increase your overall health and wellness.
Why You Need Supplements
When was the last time you had a blood draw? How about a physical? These tests can help provide important health markers that let you know if you have dietary deficiencies that need addressing.
If you haven’t seen your healthcare provider in some time, you can take a quick body scan to determine where you stand on the wellness scale.
- Energy levels. Do you normally feel tired, lethargic, or like it’s hard to get up and running in the mornings? Does your energy wane without significant caffeine use? If you’re getting plenty of sleep and still feeling tired, your diet may be missing a vital ingredient that could help you feel better.
- Immunity. Everyone gets sick, but if you’re constantly battling a cold or flu it could be due to a lack of proper nutrition. If you aren’t getting enough immunity-boosting vitamins and minerals, your immune system won’t function as it should. For example, many of us don't get the amount of vitamin D we need from sun exposure alone, which is vital to our immune health.
- Mood and sleep. Being able to get to sleep and stay asleep is crucial to your health. Sleep issues affect every aspect of your health, but these symptoms can often stem from holes in your diet. Likewise, your mood can feel unbalanced, low, or stressed if you aren’t getting enough sleep or a balanced diet.
Most people can identify with some of these conditions, but if they hit a little too close to home for you, it might be time to perform a dietary overhaul and consider using some alternative medicines and over-the-counter supplements.
The go-to solution for helping support a balanced diet is the use of a multivitamin. Multivitamins usually contain a blend of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs for basic functions, such as calcium, B vitamins, zinc, niacin, biotin, and vitamin D.
Most multivitamins come in high doses, with more than your day’s allowance of these ingredients. This is because your body can’t absorb the ingredients in your multivitamin as well as it can from the foods you eat. As such, you may find that a multivitamin contains 200% of your recommended daily allowance of a certain vitamin in just one pill, like vitamin D3 or vitamin C, but you won’t actually absorb that much of it.
Who Should Use Multivitamins?
Anyone can benefit from the use of a multivitamin, but you’ve got double the reason to give them a try if:
- You are deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral
- You follow a specific diet that could exclude vital dietary needs
- Elderly individuals who may have a higher rate of poor dietary intake
- Pregnant people
- Individuals with certain medical conditions that could cause malabsorption, like Crohn’s diseases
Multivitamins are generally easy to use, safe, and well tolerated by even the most sensitive individuals. If you do experience stomach upset, take a multivitamin with food to help ease discomfort.
If that low-energy health marker resonated with you, it could be due to a lack of magnesium in your diet.
Magnesium is a mineral that is important for your body’s muscle and nerve function, and also in helping ensure you are properly energized. Magnesium is also a vital part of helping support healthy blood pressure.
Long term magnesium deficiency has even been associated with chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to negative health markers like increased risk of heart disease, insulin intolerance, high blood pressure, and weight gain.
Who Should Take Magnesium?
You may not need a magnesium supplement to get the magnesium your body needs. Magnesium-rich foods can provide you with your daily recommended allowance of this mineral. Nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains are all sources of magnesium.
Before you begin taking a magnesium supplement, it’s important to determine whether it’s actually needed, and you’ll need a blood test to confirm this information. While taking a magnesium supplement won’t hurt you, it can cause intestinal discomfort like cramping and diarrhea.
Arguably one of the most popular supplements available is fish oil. Fish oil contains omega-3, which is an essential fatty acid. Essential fatty acids are ones your body requires to function properly but cannot make on its own, which means you must get it from the foods you eat or a supplement.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to supporting heart health, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take a supplement.
There are three different types of omega-3 fatty acids, and only one of them is actually essential. ALA, DHA, and EPA are the three types of omega-3 fatty acids, but your body can convert ALA to EPA and later to DHA, which means only ALA is truly essential.
Additionally, too much omega-3 can have a negative health impact. Your daily recommended requirement for omega-3 is fairly low, which means it’s very likely you’ll get enough of it from the foods you eat.
Who Should Take Fish Oil?
If you are on a restricted diet that excludes omega-3 rich foods like nuts and fish, you may consider taking fish oil. However, fish oil supplements do come with a pretty unsavory side effect. “Fish breath” and fish burps are extremely common with fish oil supplements and can make it intolerable for some individuals.
Even formulas that claim to be burpless usually aren’t, and still cause stomach upset and indigestion.
A Better Supplement
Sometimes we go overboard. In an effort to fix dietary deficiencies, we end up swallowing mouthfuls of supplements every morning. How much of those supplement ingredients actually end up absorbed by our bodies is questionable, and in an effort to increase our wellness we may only be giving ourselves a stomach ache.
If you’re looking for a better way to help support your health without buying out the vitamin aisle, we’ve got a solution.
It’s been over 90 years since the last discovery of an essential fatty acid, but an increasing body of research shows that a little-known, odd-chain, saturated fatty acid called pentadecanoic acid could very well be the next one.†
First discovered as beneficial while improving the health of dolphins, pentadecanoic acid, also known as C15:0 (pronounced see-fifteen), is a sturdy fatty acid that helps improve health on a cellular level.*†
C15:0 helps support your cellular health by:*
- Strengthening cell walls. As we get older, our cells become more fragile and our cells’ first line of defense, the cell wall, becomes weaker. C15:0 gets into our cell walls helping fortify them and keep them strong, protecting them from external stressors that could cause damage.
- Stimulating mitochondrial function. Our cells’ mitochondria produce the energy they need to carry out cellular function. When cellular function begins to decrease (a natural result of aging), our cells become sluggish, which translates into organs and systems that don’t function as optimally as they used to. C15:0 helps support healthy mitochondrial function so our cells can power themselves and our entire bodies.
C15:0 also helps support your overall wellness with:*
- Balanced immunity. When you feel like you’re always sick, it’s a sign your immunity is unbalanced. Stress, illness, and numerous other factors can cause issues with your immunity.C15:0 helps support your immunity, bringing it back into balance and possibly helping you feel better.
- Improved metabolism. We could all benefit from better metabolism, but as we age, it just slows down. C15:0 helps support healthy metabolic function which can help you avoid negative health markers associated with poor metabolism, like weight gain.
- Improved sleep and mood. Many of us struggle with getting good quality sleep and in keeping our mood balanced. C15:0 can help support both quality sleep and improved mood by binding to receptors in the brain that regulate both.
C15:0 is found in trace amounts in whole milk and butter, which means you will have a hard time getting it in your diet without accompanying unhealthy even-chain saturated fats. Thankfully, there’s a supplement available to give you the perfect amount of C15:0 you need every day.
Fatty15 contains the pure, synthetic form of C15:0 in a once a day, vegan capsule that you can easily add to your health stack. The best part? No fishy aftertaste or stomach discomfort.
It’s not a bad idea to consider taking supplements to stay healthy, but you don’t have to take every one that makes headlines. Vitamin D supplements, probiotics for gut health, protein powders, or vitamin B6 supplements can be helpful for some, but other individuals will find that they don't make a massive difference on their overall health and wellness. Normally, you’ll get what you need from your diet.
For essential acids your body needs and can’t make (like C15:0), supplements can be an optimal choice.
Pros and Cons of Taking a Magnesium Supplement|Mayo Clinic
The Inverse Relation Between Fish Consumption and 20-Year Mortality From Coronary Heart Disease|PubMed
Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential?
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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