Supplementation is an endlessly confusing corner of the health world. On one hand, every new product is touted as the silver bullet that will solve all your problems. Meanwhile, other sources assure us that all supplements are a useless waste of money.
The truth lies somewhere between these two extremes. Unfortunately, even ideal lifestyle habits will leave inevitable nutritional gaps, due to the nutrient-depleted foods and constant environmental stressors that come with modern living. Fortunately, supplementation can help—and it need not be as complicated as you might think.
This post distills the overabundance of available information on supplements into an easy-to-implement daily protocol.
The TRUE Goal Of Supplementation
While the mechanisms of supplementation are as complex as the human body itself, the goal of the protocol given below is simple: to eliminate nutrient deficiencies, and to allow for unhindered metabolic and endocrine function.
Because metabolic and endocrine processes are the biochemical ground of nearly every aspect of “optimal” health, supplementing with a focus on this simple goal is a highly effective strategy for strengthening disease resistance, improving physical and cognitive performance, and ensuring a resilient daily sense of vitality and well-being.
So Why Should I Throw Out My Multivitamin?
As convenient as it would be if multivitamins were an effective one-stop-shop for supplementation, the fact is that they just don’t cut it.
Even the best and most expensive multivitamins use inferior and less bioavailable forms of vitamins and minerals. In some cases, the form used renders the nutrient almost worthless (e.g. essential fatty acids must be in oil form in order to be absorbed and utilized, rather than the powder form used in nearly all multivitamins).
Lastly (though the arguments against multivitamins could fill an entire post), the vitamin and mineral dosages contained in multivitamins are almost always insufficient. For example, the ideal daily dosage of only magnesium (800mg) or vitamin C (1000mg) would fill (or exceed) the entire volume of a multivitamin.
Luckily, the cost of the optimal supplement protocol below (especially if you purchase in bulk) is not all that different from the cost of a popular multivitamin. In fact, the cost of everything below breaks down to just $1.82/day, or $55/month.
Supplementing Intelligently: Our Recommendations
If you’re interested in a deeper dive into each of the following supplements, check out this supplement article from THE SEVEN, the series in which we outlined our Principles of Nutrition for a Life in Sync.
To keep things simple in this post, here’s our recommended daily supplement protocol, without further ado.
Essential Supplement Protocol
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A (as retinol or vegan beta-carotene) - 2000-4000mcg/day
Vitamin D3 - 5000IU/day
Vitamin K (as MK7) - 50-100mcg/day
Water Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin) - 3000-5000mcg/day
Vitamin B9 (as folinic acid) - 800mcg/day
Vitamin C (as buffered ascorbic acid) - 1g/day
Copper (as chelated copper) - 2mg/day
Selenium - 200mcg/day
Iodine (as kelp powder) - 200-300mcg/day
Lithium (as lithium oroate) - 5-10mg/day
Magnesium (as chelated magnesium) - 500-800mg/day
Omega 3 (as EPA and DHA...via fish oil or vegan algae) - 1g/day
Creatine Monohydrate - 5g/day