We know the best way to get vitamins and minerals is through diet, but what if that’s not an option? “In addition to a healthy diet, there is evidence that some supplements can benefit your overall well-being with little to no risk,” says Jeffrey Millstein, MD. “The most important thing to remember is to be smart when choosing a supplement.” Here are five supplements that actually make a difference, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Vitamin D is essential for health and wellness, experts say. “No other vitamin can hold a candle to vitamin D when it comes to importance and influence on health,” says Dr. Will Cole. “Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, it acts more like a hormone than a vitamin by regulating hundreds of uber-important pathways in your body. Besides your thyroid hormones, this vitamin is the only other thing every single cell of your body needs in order to function properly. Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is synthesized by your body when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. It is impossible to get enough vitamin D from food alone, and unless you live in a very sunny place (like near the equator) and are outside frequently without sunscreen, you are probably deficient. This is therefore one of the most important supplements you should take.”
Probiotics can be useful for digestive issues and supporting immune health. “Whether you’re looking to help your immune function, decrease disease risk or simply improve your overall health, probiotics can make a worthy addition to your daily routine,” says Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CN. “Eating foods rich in good bacteria and using probiotic supplements may help provide protection from inflammatory bowel diseases, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The evidence is stronger, however, for an improvement in ulcerative colitis, while Crohn’s disease may not benefit as greatly.”
Zinc holds a variety of health benefits, especially for immune support and during pregnancy, experts say. “Zinc is one of the most important minerals to stave off infection,” says Tania Elliott, MD, allergist and chief medical officer of the preventative health company EHE. “It promotes immunity and helps your body resist invasion by bacteria and viruses. It is also important for nervous system development, and for moms-to-be, zinc is super important for a healthy pregnancy. In addition to recommending it to patients for general prevention, I recommend it to my allergy patients because they are generally more prone to infection. The recommended dietary allowance of zinc is anywhere from 8 to 11 mg per day, depending on your age and if you are male or female. I take a daily multivitamin that contains it.”
“Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient that functions as an antioxidant and boosts the immune system,” says Kerem Bortecen, MD, endovascular and interventional surgeon at NYC Surgical Associates. “Vitamin C is, of course, abundant in many fruits and vegetables, but prolonged storage and cooking diminish its content. Besides its well-known protective role against common colds, vitamin C has also been shown to have a significant and positive effect on blood vessels. Such an effect has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke in large studies. As a vascular surgeon, I recommend a vitamin C supplement to patients after a vascular procedure for a faster recovery.”
“Inflammation is at the center of every chronic health problem today and turmeric is a spice that contains one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory tools we know of,” says Dr. Cole. “Whether you use the spice itself, or its active component (curcumin) in supplement form, this is a supplement you should take if you are on the anti-inflammatory war path. For those looking for inflammation maintenance, 2 grams per day is a good start, but as much as 10 grams per day may be needed to drive down higher levels of inflammation.”