How to Create a Healthy Supplement Routine
In my work as an Integrative Health Practitioner and Holistic Nutritionist, one of the most rewarding things that I do is to create meal plans and supplement plans to support optimal health. I am often asked which vitamins and supplements are worth taking and which might not be worth the cost. In our modern world, there are endless supplement choices and constant social media advertising, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. My aim with this blog is to make things simple for you. I’ll guide you through the steps of creating a beneficial supplement routine in a straightforward and simple way.
What is a Dietary Supplement?
Let’s begin by demystifying dietary supplements. A dietary supplement includes everything from vitamins and minerals to botanicals and herbs, enzymes, protein powders, amino acids, collagen, and more. When you visit the vitamin aisle at your local health food store, you will see that dietary supplements come in various forms. Supplements include tablets, capsules, gummies, and powders. Popular supplements include multivitamins, vitamin D, B vitamins, probiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids. Herbal supplements include adaptogens such as mushrooms, ashwaghanda, and ginseng and teas like chamomile, peppermint, cinnamon, licorice, green tea, matcha, and cardamom.
The Purpose of Dietary Supplements
Remember, supplements are not a replacement for a healthy, balanced diet. Supplements are meant to fill gaps in your nutrition. Unlike prescription drugs, supplements cannot be labeled and marketed to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure disease. Be wary of supplements that make disease claims, such as “lowers high cholesterol,” “cures diabetes,” or “treats heart disease.” When you build your personalized supplement regimen, each supplement you choose should have a specific purpose and be quality tested and ideally purchased from a reputable, third-party tested brand.
Supplements: Safety and Quality
Did you know that the FDA is not required to review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed? Supplement manufacturers and distributors are responsible for testing their products for safety and efficacy. That is why I recommend that you use practitioner-grade supplements that are third-party tested.
Do You Need to Take Supplements?
The billion-dollar question. It’s important to understand that we’re all uniquely bio-individual, meaning that we all have individual nutrition and supplement needs. We are all subjected to supplement advertising, but not everyone needs them. Depending on diet and lifestyle, some people can maintain adequate levels of essential nutrients by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. However, remember that there is a difference between a “reference range” and an “optimal range.” When possible, optimal is ideal. Therefore, supplements can be incredibly beneficial for filling gaps in your diet and helping you reach optimal levels. This supplement guide aims to do both.
Things to Consider Before Taking a New Supplement
Before you begin a new supplement routine, here’s how to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck:
Are You Aware of Nutrient Deficiencies?
Have you been diagnosed with a deficiency (iron, vitamin D, etc.)? What do your labs report? Make sure that what you’re taking has a targeted purpose. Rather than spending your money on unnecessary vitamins, test for deficiencies first. For example, most people need to eat fatty fish 3-4 times a week and supplement on the days they do not eat fatty fish to have optimal levels of Omega 3 to Omega 6. Testing is the best way to find out. It is possible to do at-home nutrient testing. Check out this complete bundle of the five most essential nutrient tests here. Nutrient testing is the way we found out that both of our daughters were deficient in Vitamin C when they finished college.
Do You Know How Much to Take?
Figure out the correct dosage for you. A common misconception about dietary supplements is that increasing your intake might deliver additional health benefits. Some people think that if a vitamin or mineral is good for you, more is even better. This isn’t the case. For example, too much vitamin D can weaken bones.
When to Take Your Daily Supplements
Take supplements when it is most convenient for you and at a time when you can be consistent. As for the empty stomach versus with food debate—some vitamins are fat-soluble, and some are water-soluble. Vitamins that are fat-soluble, like Vitamin D, should be paired with a source of fat (take with food or pair with another fatty supplement, like fish oil). Some vitamins only need to be paired with water—like B Vitamins and Vitamin C. I personally like to take my probiotics and my magnesium just before bed. Magnesium is known as a relaxation mineral, so it may help you to sleep better. I consume the rest of my supplements in the morning with my breakfast. See the supplements I take here. Curious to see the longevity regimen recommended by Dr. Mark Hyman? Find it here. (Make a Fullscript account, and you will always save 20%.)
How to Build Your Personalized Supplement Regimen
In just two steps, learn how to choose the right vitamins and supplements for you.
1. Foundational Supplements
When it comes to supplements, a solid foundation is vital. These are the supplements that most people are deficient in and, therefore, benefit from. The supplements comprising this level support basic life processes—cellular energy production, growth, repair, and regeneration. Think of these as the essential nutrients for living well as a human. They include five building blocks, and these are the basics that I recommend to all of my clients (and have my husband and children take too):
- Multivitamin- fills nutritional gaps.
- Omega 3– helps decrease inflammation and support brain health.
- Vitamin D + K2– for bone health, immunity, and heart health.
- Probiotics– support a healthy gut microbiome for digestion, immune health, and mood.
- Magnesium– relieves muscle soreness while improving sleep quality, stress, and nerve function.
2. Personalized Supplements
This is all about you, specifically. If you’re struggling with hormonal imbalance, insomnia, blood sugar balance, joint pain, allergies, gut dysbiosis, or high cortisol, for example, you will want to add other supplements to your routine. The goal here is to support your personalized health goals. If you would like to speak with me for advice tailored to you, book a 30 or 60-minute appointment. You can also browse all of my supplement protocols here. I have protocols for gut health, healthy skin, immune support, bone health, sarcopenia support, healthy aging and longevity, blood sugar balance, post surgical gut repair, surgical support for healing and more.
Support Your Health Beyond Supplements
Supplements are meant to do just that: supplement your current diet and lifestyle. Therefore, eating well, getting quality sleep, spending time outdoors, minimizing daily stressors, and moving your body are essential.
Eat Nourishing Food
First and foremost, focus on a nutrient-dense diet. Our diet is our first line of defense to fight inflammation. A healthy supplement program is based on food and supplements working together. If you need help creating an eating plan that you can stick to, let me help you!
Get Quality Sleep
Deep, consistent sleep is essential for the body to rest, repair, and detox. Aim for 7-9 hours per night. I use an OURA ring to track my deep, REM and light sleep, sleep quality, and daily readiness. This information has been so insightful. I can see in real time how my choices affect my sleep. Late meals and alcohol consumption were my biggest sleep disruptors, and now I aim for dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime and have almost completely eliminated alcohol.
Spend Time Outdoors
Spend time outdoors and get early morning sun! Not only is the sun a mood-booster, but the sun is necessary for setting our circadian rhythms, helping our body to produce melatonin, balancing blood sugar, optimizing sleep, boosting vitamin D levels, and balancing our hormones.
Manage stress where possible. This is easier said than done, but there are many ways to get stressors under control. Stress relief aids in healthy cortisol and hormone levels. Add a yoga practice, keep a gratitude journal, use a meditation app, and make time for a walk with a partner or friend.
Make Hydration a Priority
Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily (tea counts, too!). This is difficult for some people (my husband Dr. B included) but staying hydrated helps with fatigue, your body’s detoxification, improves energy levels, helps with headaches and even constipation.
Lastly, make time for movement. Moderate exercise is the key to a balanced, strong, vibrant body. Most longevity experts suggest strength training 2-3x a week and daily movement like walking, hiking, or other zone 2 activities.
To Sum it All Up
- Nourishing Food: Prioritize nutrient-rich foods for a solid foundation and supplements where needed.
- Quality Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Sun Exposure: Spend time outdoors for mood, good sleep and essential vitamin D.
- Stress Management: Minimize stress with practices like yoga or meditation.
- Hydration: Drink enough water daily.
- Movement: Embrace moderate exercise and strength training for a strong, vibrant body and optimal aging.
- Supplements: use where needed to fill in the gaps in your vitamin and mineral needs, boost your protein intake and give your body the building blocks it needs to achieve optimal wellness.
If I can help you on your health journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can email me here: [email protected] or make an appointment for a free consult here. If you would like to order practitioner grade, third party tested supplements, make an account here and save 20% every time you order.
In health and wellness,
Thank you for supporting Nest Wellness by Beth Bollinger. This article contains affiliate links that enable me to provide you with free recipes and resources. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.