I’M regularly asked this question by clients and I have a pretty standard response.
Firstly, if you’re not taking a high quality (read “expensive”) supplement, you’re probably doing your liver more harm than good. BUT, not all expensive supplements are high quality! The supplements you are buying from supermarkets and pharmacy-type stores may tend to be the lower quality ones. Reputable health shops may be a better option as they tend to stock products they themselves have researched and experimented with. However, in every case, if your diet isn’t high in fresh, raw, whole foods and drinks, it is – frankly – pointless even considering supplements.
The select few supplements you do choose should be the cherry on top of a wholesome, healthy diet – they can’t make up the pie itself. At best, they amount to expensive urine and at worst, may impact on the liver. Considering the cost of some supplements, they can also impact massively on your pocket, without necessarily providing any distinctly positive benefits.
What do I recommend? I’m a minimalist. My feeling is that Vitamin C is a great one to keep immune systems strong and Omega 3 fish or Krill oil is great for its anti-inflammatory and heart protective qualities. Vitamin E is a must if you’re not getting into the sun regularly, but since we can all year round here in PE, why spend money on something that’s freely available? What you may need outside of these supplements depends on so many things and it would be impossible to cover them all now.
Rule of thumb: eat properly (and that includes plenty of good quality fat and protein); sleep at least seven hours a night; be physically active every day; breathe deeply; remain in a positive frame of mind; drink a minimum of eight glasses of good quality water daily; get into the sun and be in contact with the earth’s surface regularly.
If you are taking supplements be sure to check them for magnesium stearate (and any other “flow agents”), which prevent the supplements from sticking together and allows the machinery to run smoother and faster. It is not a source of magnesium and may have a detrimental effect on your immune function since stearic acid has been linked to the suppression of T cells. It also encourages your gut to form a biofilm, preventing proper absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract.