Do You Need Supplements If You Eat A Healthy Diet? A Doctor Explains

The question of supplements if very confusing for most people. After all, shouldn’t eating a whole, fresh, unprocessed foods diet provide all the necessary vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients we need?

The media, by oversimplifying or misinterpreting studies, only adds to this confusion. One week research will come out “disproving” a multivitamin’s effectiveness, and the next week they'll tout how important a particular nutrient is for a certain condition.

So are supplements actually necessary?

The short answer is that even with a perfect diet, many things — including depleted soils, the storage and transportation of food, increased stress, and a toxic environment — make it impossible for you to get nutrients you need solely from the foods you eat. And studies show that incorporating nutritional supplements can help lead to optimal health.

Of course, you needn’t go overboard. A few basic supplements can become “dietary insurance” to cover the nutrient gaps you’re probably not getting.

When patients ask me for a “just the basics” guide, these are the five supplements I recommend:

1. A high-quality multivitamin

This should include high-dose therapeutic amounts — not Recommended Daily Allowances — of vitamins and minerals. This will probably involve taking two to six capsules.

2. Vitamin D

The vitamin D deficiency is epidemic, with up to 80% of people deficient or suboptimal in their intake and blood levels.

So depending on what’s in your multivitamin, I recommend taking an additional 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 with your breakfast. Vitamin D3 improves metabolism by influencing more than 200 different genes that can help prevent and treat diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

3. Omega-3 fats

I also recommend taking 1,000 to 2,000 mg of omega-3 fats (with a ratio of approximately 300/ 200 mg of EPA/ DHA), once with breakfast and once with dinner. These important fats improve insulin sensitivity, lower cholesterol by lowering triglycerides and raising HDL, reduce inflammation, prevent blood clots and lower the risk of heart attacks.

4. Magnesium

Take 100 to 200 mg of magnesium, ideally in the citrate or glycinate form, at breakfast and dinner. Over 300 enzymes in your body rely on magnesium. And like vitamin D, studies show many Americans aren't getting recommended amounts, which leads to increased inflammation and other problems.

5. PGX fiber

Taken before meals, this super fiber slows absorption of sugar and fat and makes you feel full so you eat less. In fact, one study found that 7.5 grams of PGX mixed with water corresponded to a 34% increase in fullness.

All of these, with the exception of fiber, should be taken with meals. Additionally, you might benefit from a high-dose probiotic supplement as well as digestive enzymes before meals.

You should also consider working with an integrative doctor or qualified healthcare professional to address unique nutrient needs. In the long run, a trained practitioner who can test and determine your specific nutrient needs becomes more economical rather than guessing. To learn more about other nutrients that can benefit certain conditions, check out The Blood Sugar Solution.

Do you take a multivitamin or other supplements to complement a healthy diet? Share what you use below or on my Facebook page.

Want to learn how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

Mark Hyman, M.D.

Functional Medicine Doctor
Mark Hyman, MD, believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That's why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. He is a practicing family physician, a nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and has been a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CBS This Morning, the Today Show, CNN, The View, the Katie Couric show and The Dr. Oz Show.
View the class
Mark Hyman, M.D.

Related Posts

Sites We Love

Functional Nutrition Webinar

Learn How To Eat Right For Your Brain

Sign up for mbg's FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar hosted by Dr. Mark Hyman

Get Free Access Now Loading next article...
Sign up for mbg's FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar

Your article and new folder have been saved!