Researchers say there are three crucial nutrients that are most important when considering supplements.
“As long as you eat a well-rounded diet, you need to add only a few key nutrients to ensure good health and prevent disease,” David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale Prevention Research Center tells Newsmax Health. “The key is to include a variety of plant-based foods in your diet and choosing wholesome, minimally processed foods overall. In general, based on science and my practice, I recommend only three supplements to almost everyone: vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium.
1. Vitamin D “is the most common nutrient deficiency in America today,” says Steven Masley, M.D., author of The 30-Day Heart Tune-up. Vitamin D is created in our body when sunshine hits our skin. However, most of us spend our days indoors. “We spend far less time outdoors than our ancestors did,” says Dr. Masley. “Every cell in your body needs vitamin D to function at its best.” Deficiencies are responsible for high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attacks, and strokes, says the Tampa-based physician.
Low vitamin D is also associated with loss of bone density, increased risk of cancer, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. In England, there was a recent surge in rickets, a childhood bone disease caused by lack of vitamin D. “Since it is difficult to get enough of this vitamin from food,” says Dr. Masley, “you need to get plenty of sunshine, but without letting yourself get burned.”
Bottom line: Take a vitamin D supplement with 2,000 IUs daily.
2. Calcium. Although Americans eat a lot of calcium-rich foods, including dairy products, we tend to be deficient because our modern diets are too acidic, which reduces the amount of the mineral in our bodies, says nutritionist J.J. Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet Cookbook. She says that beyond protecting bone health, calcium has a calming effect on the nervous system. It’s found in dairy foods, green vegetables and salmon.
Bottom line: Take a 500-mg calcium supplement daily.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation that leads to heart disease and cancer. There are three types: EPA and DHA, which you find in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, and ALA which you get in vegetable oils and walnuts. “Ideally you should be eating three to four servings of wild, cold-water seafood each week,” says Virgin.
Bottom line: Take 2 grams of a high-quality fish oil supplement daily.