By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
My patients often ask me to recommend supplements they should take as they get older.
And coming up with a “one-size-fits-all” supplement regime is tough. After all, a postmenopausal woman, a 40-something man and someone else with a chronic condition like diabetes may have very different nutritional needs.
But, in spite of the differences, there are some nutrients that can benefit everyone. The following 7 supplements cover all the basics regardless of your gender, age or current health status. And taking them can be the first step in your journey toward optimal health.
- Fish Oil. Ask most doctors today and they’ll admit to recommending omega-3 fatty acids to all their patients. Especially those at risk of heart disease. Fish oil, with its generous dose of the omega-3s EPA and DHA, can reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. It lowers blood pressure slightly and triglycerides even more. But that’s not all fish oil can do. It’s also an extremely effective anti-inflammatory.1 Since inflammation is involved in nearly every degenerative disease from Alzheimer’s to cancer, supplementing with fish oil is one of the single best things you can do for your overall health. My recommended daily dose is 3,000 mg of fish oil containing a combination of EPA and DHA.
- Vitamin D. The health benefits of vitamin D extend to at least 100 diseases, most notably cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory infections and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D has also been linked to better mood, better physical performance and even better results with weight loss programs. Take 2,000 IUs daily.
- Probiotics. Beneficial bacteria keep harmful micro-organisms in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function. While the yogurt you find in the supermarket may contain probiotics, most brands don’t offer nearly enough for good health. But taking a high quality probiotic supplement every day can help keep your digestive and immune systems functioning at their best. When it comes to probiotics, more is better. Look for a supplement that provides at least 5 billion colony forming units (CFUs) and take it every day.
- Magnesium. This amazing nutrient is critical for a healthy heart. It also helps control blood sugar, is essential for strong bones, and helps relax you when you’re stressed. But several studies show that a majority of Americans don’t get enough of this important mineral. According to Italian researchers, magnesium deficiencies have been tied to allergies, asthma, anxiety, heart disease, muscle cramps and a host of other conditions.2 You can help prevent or ease these conditions by simply taking 400—800 mg daily.
- Curcumin. This compound found in the curry spice turmeric is best known for its anti-inflammatory properties. But that’s just the start of its healing qualities. Curcumin may also have anti-cancer, anti-arthritic, antiviral, antifungal and immune-boosting effects. ScienceWatch recently highlighted 19 papers on the health benefits of curcumin—many of them focusing on its anticancer activity.3 I now consider it one of the most important supplements to take on a daily basis. The recommended daily dose is 1,000 mg.
- Resveratrol. Credited with being responsible for the “French Paradox,” resveratrol has drawn a lot of attention as an anti-aging nutrient. Research has shown resveratrol extends the life of every species studied so far, from fruit flies to monkeys. But it’s also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and may also have powerful anti-cancer properties. I now recommend it as a part of every supplementation package for optimal health. Take at least 250 mg of trans-resveratrol, the active form of the compound, every day.
- Multivitamin. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health have noted low blood levels of certain vitamins is a risk factor for chronic disease.4 They’ve also recommended everyone should take a multivitamin to prevent deficiencies. Vitamin deficiencies—especially when mild—can contribute to a whole host of problems including osteoporosis, chronic pain, depression, heart disease and cancer. Taking a quality, high-potency multi every day just makes good sense.
While these 7 supplements can contribute to good health, let’s be very clear: Foundational health is about a lot more than supplements. It’s about what you eat, how active you are, what (and who) you surround yourself with, your attitudes, and even how much time you spend outdoors in the sun.
Assuming you’re doing the things you need to promote good health, this basic supplement program will be a terrific asset to your overall health program.
- Skulas-Ray AC. Dose-response effects of omega-3 fatty acids on triglycerides, inflammation, and endothelial function in healthy persons with moderate hypertriglyceridemia. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011;93:243-252.
- Barbagallo M. Magnesium and aging. Current Pharmceutical Design. 2010;16:832-839.
- Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin. ScienceWatch.com. Available at http://sciencewatch.com/dr/fmf/maps/08julFMF_pha/
- Fairfield KM. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: scientific review.
Journal of the American Medical Association. 2002; 287:3116-3126.