Navigating the supplement aisle at your local Whole Foods or health store can feel like a high-stakes obstacle course: What does “IU” stand for again and why does it matter? Which strain of probiotic do you need? And WTF is up with magnesium, anyway? In order to preempt your desperate real-time shopping questions for Dr. Google, here’s a little supplemental intel on the gold-star vitamins and minerals that you need.
I talked to Tiffany Lester, MD, Medical Director of Parsley Health, and Taz Bhatia, MD, integrative health expert and author of Super Woman RX, to gather some much-needed information on which supplements are worthy of space in your medicine cabinet.
Of course, this roadmap is only a basic guide to supplements. They’re used for different reasons and, therefore, the recommended amounts will differ from person to person. Check with your doctor for more personalized guidance. (Really, you should call up your doc before adding any supplements to your diet.)
Keep reading for the supplements holistic docs say you should be popping on the reg.
Vitamin D: 2,000-5,000 IUs per day
“In fact, some people with deficiencies tend to be on myriad medications to manage their symptoms, when really, all they need is a daily dose of bottled sunshine,” she continues.
Magnesium: 200-400 mgs per day
A shortage of magnesium could wreak havoc on your mood, mental health, and sleep patterns. “Magnesium is a foundational micronutrient for the hormone pathways, neurotransmitter regulation, and detoxification,” says Dr. Taz.
Probiotics: 20-50 billion CFUs per day
Imagine your gut is a garden (because it kinda is). Probiotics are the seeds in your gut that can boost brain health, soothe inflammation, support hormonal health, and more, Dr. Lester explains. And no seeds means no flowers. “Ideally, you should have enough good bacteria from your diet to have a healthy microbiome and be replenishing that bacteria on a daily basis,” Dr. Lester explains.
Prebiotics: dosage varies
To continue Dr. Lester’s garden metaphor, think of prebiotics as the fertilizer that ensures your gut flora are living their best, most productive lives. “Your gut lining is like the soil in the garden,” she explains.
Although no dose fits all in this case, Dr. Lester says everyone can benefit from combining their pre- and probiotics. Talk to your doctor about what amount is best for you.
Omegas: 2-3 grams per day
Omega-3 fatty acids should be added to your diet for its brain-boosting, heart-healthy, and inflammation-fighting superpowers, Dr. Taz advises.
But for anyone who might treat this buzzy supplement as a magic pill, there is one caveat. “While taking fish oil can be really helpful, it doesn’t replace plant-based diets and adequate sleep,” warns Dr. Lester. In other words: Make sure you’re not expecting your pills to do all the heavy lifting for your overall #wellnessgoals.
Vegan protein powder: 1 scoop per day
To round out your daily dose of supplements, Dr. Lester recommends a heaping scoop of Vega (or another vegan protein powder) to fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet. Any brand that packs 20 to 25 grams of plant-based protein is ideal, so you can enjoy this extra boost in a post-workout cookie, your morning smoothie, or these bliss bites.
If you stick to a particular diet—be it vegan, keto, gluten-fee, etc—you’ll need to put extra consideration into your supplement regimen. Plus, everyone should be taking these five supplements for mental health.
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