My Go-To Supplements

My Go-To Supplements

Supplements are a hot word. You can look at any shopping center or in any store and you will find an array of supplements.  It’s downright overwhelming.  How do you choose the right one?  Do you need them all?  What the heck am I to use them for?

Today, we are going to break down how to buy vitamins and minerals, what multivitamin benefits include, and what my recommended supplements are.  

DISCLAIMER:  As we don’t have a client-clinician relationship, I cannot know what medications you’re currently taking.  Before starting any new supplement, please discuss with your doctor or nutritionist so they can ensure there are no drug-nutrient interactions.

Should I Supplement?

The answer is yes.  A resounding YES! But I’ll preface with this…you can’t out supplement a bad diet.  

The first place you should be getting your vitamins and minerals is your diet.  Supplements aren’t well absorbed, even the really good ones. Focus on 80% diet and 20% supplements. Supplements are meant to fill the gap, not replace food.

With that said, everyone needs a multivitamin.  Even those that consume an ah-MAZING diet.  Various issues can cause a lack of nutrient absorption (digestive problems, low stomach acid, etc).  Additionally, our soil today is not what it was over 100 years ago when we had sufficient crop rotation which allowed for the soil to replenish its nutrients. Different crops need different nutrients.  

So yes…if your diet is great…you should still be taking a multivitamin.  

A few others that I like to see people take is a vitamin D, specifically D3, supplement, and a vitamin B12 supplement (if you’re plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan).  

Really, the only 2 places to get vitamin D is from the sun or supplements.  Most people are not out in the sun enough to obtain the amounts they need to maintain healthy vitamin D levels in the body.  You can check out my previous blog on Vitamin D here.  It’s also important to take the location within the US and the time of the year into consideration when thinking about vitamin D.

A lot of vitamin D supplements for non-meat eaters are D2 supplements.  The problem with this is that D2 isn’t well absorbed into the body. So, I like D3.  Yes, they have non-animal based D3…you get this from lichen (a plant).   

And B12…I see a lot of non-meat eaters not supplementing with B12.  This is scary to me because we need B12.  Many assume they are getting plenty by adding in nutritional yeast in their diet. Listen…nooch is great!  But B vitamins are not stable when heated. Unless you’re eating a boatload of nooch not cooked, you probably should be supplementing with a B12…methylcobalamin to be exact. 

I’ll give some brand recommendations for all these a bit later in the blog.  Let’s chat quality, shall we?

Quality 

I know it seems like there are a million brands of multivitamins…and there probably are. This makes it so much more tough to choose an adequate supplement.  I do have a few that are my go-tos but I want to hit on what to look for when you’re shopping on your own.  

Let’s take a look at a common multivitamin that I see a lot of people taking…Kirkland’s Multivitamin. This just happens to be the first brand that came to mind because I see quite a few people taking it.  I know that’s its popular and easily attainable…we love out Costco’s, right?

When a new client comes to me and is on a supplement, I do 2 things: 1) I look up the supplement and have a gander at the ingredients, and 2) have a look on LabDoor.com to see how it rates.

Here is the label for Kirkland’s Signature Multivitamin.  A few things that stand out to me…

Kirkland's Signature MVM

There aren’t too many ingredients but there are a TON of “other” ingredients.  Also, this is all synthetic.  Synthetic vitamins are not well absorbed in the body.  Some notes…

  • It is gluten free
  • It is not vegan friendly (contains gelatin)
  • On that note…it also contains cholecalciferol – made from sheep lanolin

Surprisingly, there aren’t that many fillers…not nearly as many as I suspected there would be..  

One thing I want to really point out is that I RARELY use a multivitamin with iron in it…unless it’s a foodbased supplement and the iron is coming from leafy greens.  It’s easy to get too much iron.  The only time I would ever supplement with iron is if someone has lab values that show low iron.  

Just based on the iron alone, I wouldn’t use this supplement.  Now, let’s check out the quality.

LabDoor

I like to check supplement quality on LabDoor.  It’s free so anyone can set up an account.  It’s an independent database that tests the quality, label accuracy, and purity of various supplements.  Some of the higher end supplements are not on there as they go through a different quality control system.

LabDoor Kirklands
LabDoor Kirklands

So, we can see it isn’t ranked very high in the top-quality supplement list and there’s a LOT of yellow numbers listed…we want to see green.  Here are some of the highlights from the report:

  • 16 tests were performed (so not based on 1 test)
  • Some vitamins were measured over their listed value – not a huge concern, unless its iron
  • Vitamin D was measured well under its listed value – 460 iu but advertised as 600 iu
  • A few minerals were also measured at below the listed value

Again, I have an issue with supplements containing iron.  And let’s toss in folic acid as well.  It’s not well absorbed and actually creates problems.  Here are a few studies you can read on the dangers of folic acid intake vs folate intake -here and here.

So, a supplement is not a supplement is not a supplement.  I have a few go-to brands that I will switch clients to when they come to me.  I usually ask them if they are open to changing their supplements to a better-quality supplement.

My Brands

I have a set of supplements that I like.  I’ll list them and tell you why.  I’ll also list some vegan and non-vegan options so that everyone can get a supplement that is good quality and they like.  

Again, it’s imperative you check with your physician or nutritionist first to ensure there are no drug-nutrient interactions before changing or adding in a new supplement. 

Omnivores

Multivitamin – Pure Encapsulations O.N.E.

  • Yes, it’s owned by Nestle BUT I’ll keep using it until I see a change in quality
  • Contains activated B vitamins – no synthetic folic acid
  • Does not contain iron
  • Contains small amounts of iodine
  • Has a variety of peripheral nutrients to support liver health

Vitamin D – Designs for Health Vitamin D Supreme

  • It has ample amounts of D3 (5000 iu to be exact)
  • Contains K2 – we discussed the importance of K2 in my bone health blog

(Note: We need well over the RDA of vitamin D to ensure we are maintaining adequate serum levels. Check out this study.  

I do use different multivitamins for different conditions. For instance, I have one that I really like for individuals with insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, PCOS, etc).

Plant-Basers 

Multivitamin – Innate Response One Daily OR Mega Food One Daily

  • Innate response in the clinical strength and mega food is available in most stores
  • Food-based, which hopefully translates into better bioavailability in the body

Vitamin D – MyKind Organics D3 Spray

  • D3 from lichen
  • 1 spray = 1000 iu
  • Downside – no K2

Vitamin B12 – Jarrow Formulas B12

  • Chew tabs
  • 1 tab = 1000 mcg or 5000 mcg (depending on the dose you buy)
  • Only need to take 2x weekly

These are just the common ones I recommend.  I have several clients on the same supplements and I have several on completely different supplements.  What we are trying to obtain dictates what supplements we go with. 

Summary

Yes, you need supplements. Everyone does…even the healthiest of people.  Even those with stellar diets.  Not all supplements are created equal.  And please do not go for store brands.  Get an account on LabDoor and start checking out the supplements you’re taking.

Now…comment below and tell me what you learned about your current supplements.

Sunny Brigham, MS, CNS

I'm Sunny! I'm a board-certified clinical nutritionist with an MS in Clinical Nutrition. I help individuals reduce fatigue, eliminate bloat, and lose weight by healing the digestive tract and balancing hormones. I provide individual and group nutrition consultations nationwide. Join my closed Facebook group today! https://www.facebook.com/groups/140571826548289/

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