Navigating the world of supplements: Do I need to take them and how do I know if I do?

Should I take supplements?  Do I need them? Can’t I get everything I need from food?


These are questions my clients have asked me since my first days of nutrition consulting! And valid questions indeed!  Unfortunately, there is not one blanket answer. Your diet, lifestyle habits, stress levels, alcohol consumption, over the counter (OTC) and prescription medications that you take, gut health, and so much more influence the decision whether or not to supplement.  Thanks to better and better technology, we now have many methods to test for nutritional deficiencies and make decisions based on testing whether or not to supplement.


Certain symptoms also point to nutritional deficiencies…you just need to know what to look for. For example, symptoms of a vitamin B6 deficiency include dermatitis, cracked and sore lips, inflamed tongue and mouth, depression, and insomnia.  Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps, and in more severe cases abnormal heart rhythms.


When I work one-on-one with my clients, I assess current diet, lifestyle, past and current health conditions, medications, stress levels, and toxin exposure to determine whether supplementation is necessary.  I have witnessed so many people taking loads of supplements without really knowing why and with no real plan.  Assessing your current status, testing, and putting together a plan is the best way to go to restore balance and correct any nutritional deficiencies! You can check out my Targeted Nutrition programs here:


With that being said, I recently listened to a great podcast with guest Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an incredible physician and healer, on the topic of supplements. She pointed to the fact that MANY Americans are deficient in Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Essential Fatty Acids.  Women are twice as likely to be deficient in Vitamin B6 than men, especially if taking oral contraceptives. And guess what, vitamin B6 is required to make serotonin and melatonin.  And dopamine too!  So if you are depressed, anxious, or not sleeping well, be sure to get your vitamin  B6 levels checked!


Most OTC drugs and prescription medications deplete vital vitamins and minerals.  And sadly, most of the time these nutrients are not being replaced!  There is a really long list of medications that deplete nutrients; here are several more commonly prescribed and medications and OTC drugs that you should know about:


  • If you are on oral contraceptives, please be aware that they deplete vitamins B6, B12, folic acid, and magnesium. Note that these B vitamins are critical to positive mood, energy, good brain health, and proper cell division…very important in the child bearing years!
  • OTC non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen and Naproxen deplete folic acid. And aspirin decreases Vitamin C, folic acid, and iron!
  • Antibiotics wipe out your friendly gut bacteria, and general antibiotics deplete all B vitamins and Vitamin K.
  • Statins (which lower cholesterol )are notorious for reducing Coenzyme Q10, which is vital for energy!! Anti-diabetic drugs also reduce CoQ10.


Please email me at for a more comprehensive list of OTC drugs and prescription meds that induce nutrient depletions.


Although I prefer to work with you individually and test first, here are general recommendations to cover your bases when it comes to supplementation:


Take a quality multi vitamin mineral formula.  If you are a male or a female that is no longer menstruating, choose a formula without iron.  Take extra magnesium before you go to bed if you have trouble sleeping, your muscles feel tense or cramp, or if you experience frequent constipation. See the list of other magnesium deficiency symptoms above.

Have your Vitamin D levels checked by your primary care physician.  Do this first before supplementing with Vitamin D so that you know how much to take.  If you do not like fish or rarely eat it, supplement with a triglyceride form fish oil a few times per week.  I recommend eating fermented foods like kefir, unsweetened yogurt, and sauerkraut.  If you are not a big fan of fermented foods or they are not a regular part of your diet, choose a multi strain probiotic. We are still learning so much about the gut microbiome, but this is a good place to start!


Here are a few of my favorites:


Twice Daily Multi: does not contain iron so men and post menopausal women can take this multi.

Magnesium Buffered Chelate: one of the best absorbed forms of magnesium

OmegAvail Hi Po: true triglyceride form of fish oil (more easily digested and absorbed)

Probiotic Synergy Spheres: A multi strain probiotic that uses the most advanced patented delivery and shelf stability technology available to ensure maximum potency and viability.


I hope you find this helpful in navigating the world of supplements!