Discussions about whether or not to take supplements usually turn into heated debates.  Some experts believe you can get everything your body needs by simply eating the right foods.  Others believe our bodies need a little more help, especially after the age of 40, even if you’re eating a well-rounded diet.

In their book The Great Life Makeover, physicians Daniel Monti and Anthony Bazzan give their expert recommendations of which supplements to take for optimal health.  Their work at the Jefferson Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine in Philadelphia has helped thousands of people live healthier and happier lives.  The following are their recommendations for daily supplementation:

  • Multivitamin:  According to Dr. Bazzan and Dr. Monti, EVERYONE, regardless of age, should take comprehensive multivitamin.  Our bodies need higher amounts of certain essential nutrients than we can typically get from food.  And, certain medications can deplete the body of certain nutrients which can lead to deficiency.

Proper supplementation can actually help overcome bad genetics.  We all have good genes and bad genes, but the right supplementation (coupled with a healthy lifestyle) can help you turn ON the good genes while turning OFF the bad ones.

For example, women have both good and bad estrogen.  The good estrogen protects you while the bad estrogen may cause various types of cancer.  Certain supplements can increase the good estrogen and decrease the bad estrogen which can help you in the fight against a family history of estrogen-dependent cancers.

If You Are Over 40:

Probiotics:  Your gut is home to more than 100 trillion different microscopic organisms. And like your genes, you have both good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria are crucial for digestion, function of the immune system, production of vitamins and for keeping bad stuff (like fungi and yeast) in check.

Some people only take probiotics when they are taking an antibiotic.  Since antibiotics kill off the good bacteria along with the bad, they can wreak havoc on your body.  By taking probiotics daily, you’re not only improving the health of your gut, you’re fighting off unwanted inflammation and improving the function of your immune system.

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids are just that—you can’t live without them.  Omega 3’s are the major component of the protective coverings (membranes) of the trillions of cells in your body.  They act as gatekeepers to keep the bad stuff out while letting in the good stuff.

If you think you get enough Omega 3’s in your diet, you should probably think again.  Omega 3’s are found in cold-water fatty fishes (tuna, salmon, mackerel, halibut & sardines), nuts, pumpkin seeds and some grains.  But it’s not healthy for you to eat too much of these types of fish because they tend to be high in mercury.  And unless you’re eating the skin, where the fatty acids are concentrated, you’re not getting enough Omega 3’s.

So take your fish oil pills!
If you don’t like the taste, put them in the freezer. If you’re a vegan, flaxseeds are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

By taking a comprehensive multivitamin, good probiotics and essential fatty acids on a daily basis, you are building a strong foundation for a healthier you.  Other recommended supplements by these physicians include carnitine (for heart, muscle and brain health), Coenzyme Q10 (for heart health and male fertility) and creatine (for increased physical and mental performance).

It’s important to remember that a bad diet cannot be “fixed” by taking supplements.  Living a healthy life consists of eating the right foods, engaging in regular physical activity and embracing a wide variety of healthy behaviors (while shunning the bad ones).  These recommendations may not be for everyone, but I think they’re worth looking into.  Please consult with your physician before beginning any new regimen of supplements.


Stay Well & Smile,



Originally Published in  GlobalFit‘s GO! Newsletter