4 Must Have Supplements

By Michael A. Smith, MD 

Enhancing your diet with nutritional supplements will get you closer to optimal health then diet and exercise alone.

Now as a reader of this blog, there's a good chance that you already agree. But why, exactly, is this the case?

Because the food we eat, even if fresh and organic, does not have the same nutritional value as it used to.

Simply put, the American soil is sick and is producing nutrient poor food.

Supplement With an Ideally Dosed Multivitamin

The very first and most essential supplement is an ideally dosed daily multivitamin. I once asked a friend of mine if he took a multivitamin. His response was, “Vitamins and minerals are so passé. I want to take the latest innovations and something more powerful.”

 Don’t be like my friend. Never think of the basic vitamins and minerals as outdated and not “powerful.” From vitamin A to the mineral zinc, your body is totally dependent on these nutrients for optimal health. And I promise you this: You can always live without the latest Amazonian herb that claims to cure everything, but you can never live without vitamins and minerals.

By the way, a multivitamin is usually a lot cheaper than herbal and plant extracts! I can’t stress enough, though, that not all multivitamins are the same. There are your basic, bare-bones multivitamins that provide minimal doses of some essential nutrients. And then there are your robust multivitamins that deliver ideal doses of a full spectrum of essential nutrients.

What is the main difference between these multiples? Dosage. The first type is based on the government’s “recommended dietary allowance,” or RDA, and the second reflects what I call the “ideal daily intake,” or IDI.

What if, instead of RDAs, we promoted IDIs—science based ideal daily intakes of vitamins and minerals that far exceed expectations set forth by the U.S. government because they are all about optimizing health.

Dosing vitamins and minerals at this level goes way beyond protection against deficiencies. It enters the world of optimizing energy levels, hormonal balance, cardiovascular wellness, bone strength, digestive ease, visual acuity, cognitive agility, emotional stability, and joint integrity.

Supplement With Healthy Oils like Omega-3s

The second essential supplement is a high-quality omega-3 fatty acid product. Chances are, you’ve heard of omega-3 fatty acids, because they’ve had their fair share of media exposure lately.

In the simplest terms, omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats. They’re sometimes called “essential fatty acids” because, quite simply, they are essential to health—you can’t live without them. Yet your body can’t make them. So you either have to get them through your diet or through supplementation. 

An abundance of scientific research substantiates the wide-ranging health benefits of omega-3 fats. Some of these benefits include:

  • Supporting mental health 1 
  • Promoting cognitive agility 2 
  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks 3 
  • Lowering systemic inflammation 4 
The last one on the list, lowering inflammation, is more important than you might realize. I firmly believe—and I’m not alone in this—that inflammation is the common denominator of all age-related diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Lowering levels of chronic, low-grade inflammation in your body is probably the single most important thing you can do to promote optimal health.

Supplement with Ubiquinol CoQ10

The third essential supplement is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), in the ubiquinol (not ubiquinone) form. This one supplement can make such a big difference in your health and well-being that I think every single American adult could benefit from taking it.

What the heck is a coenzyme? Well, “co” means “with” or “together.” And enzymes catalyze all the chemical reactions in your body that sustain life. So coenzymes work together with enzymes to keep you alive.

Coenzyme Q10 specifically works with enzymes inside the mitochondria of your cells to produce energy in the form of ATP—energy your cells need to function. If your CoQ10 levels are low, you won’t just feel tired and drained. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body will suffer because they’re all powered by ATP.

CoQ10 is most well-known for promoting cardiovascular health. And that makes sense when you think about it, because your heart demands more energy than almost any other organ in your body. But CoQ10 has other benefits too. Scores of human clinical trials have shown that CoQ10:

  • Is helpful in multiple heart conditions 5 
  • May slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease 6 
  • Helps control blood sugar in diabetics 7 
  • Increases feelings of vigor in healthy folks 8 
CoQ10 is naturally produced in the body, but as you get older, you make less of it. Tissue samples have revealed that CoQ10 levels tend to peak at around age twenty and then continuously decrease with age.9 So, as you can see …CoQ10 is essential!

Probiotic Supplements Replace Healthy Gut Bacteria

The fourth and final essential supplement is a probiotic product. Think about it: Your survival is dependent on your gut’s ability to extract protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals from your food.

When your gut health is compromised, it doesn’t matter how healthy a diet you eat—you won’t be able to access all the nutrition it provides. Not only that, a good portion of your immune system— about 70 percent—is actually located within your GI tract.10

Here’s my point: The makeup of bacteria in your gut influences how well your gut and immune system work. The more healthy bacteria you have, the stronger your immune system and the more efficient your digestive system.

To begin, avoid things that can lower your levels of beneficial bacteria—and make room for the bad guys to multiply—like excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, and eating a typical, toxin-heavy, nutrient-poor American diet.

After that, you’ll have to replace the good bacteria you’ve lost over the years by taking a probiotic product. I suggest a product providing lactobacillus and bifidobacteria with at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFU).

The Bottom Line

Health, first and foremost, begins with a high-quality, ideally dosed multivitamin. Working up, add omega-3 fatty acids, ubiquinol CoQ10, and then probiotics.

These four essential supplements are foundational to your health as they help every cell and tissue throughout your body.


  1. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2003 Aug;13(4):267–71. 
  2. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr; 85(4): 1142–7. 
  3. Lancet. 2007 Mar 31; 369(9567):1090–8. 
  4. Life Sciences. 2006; 78(21):2523-6. 
  5. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb; 97(2):268–75. 
  6. Arch Neurol. 2002;59:1541–1550. 
  7. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002;56:1137–1142.  
  8. Human Hypertens. 1999;13:203–208. 
  9. Lipids. 1989 Jul;24(7):579–84. 
  10. Am J Physiol. 1999 Nov;277(5 Pt 1):G922–8.


Anonymous said...

I think Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin, iodine, and selenium as methylselenocysteine are the most important. Anti-aging supplements like resveratrol, PQQ, and Nicotinamide Riboside may also be very important if you're old or are in very poor health.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous - Good ones! Vitamin D3, vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin, iodine, and selenium are included in the multivitamin category.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, potency or "dosage" as you say has very little to do with the effectiveness of multivitamins. Vitamins do not work unless they are co-enzymated, and the vast majority of vitamin supplements on the market are synthetic, and unless consumed with living whole foods will lack the enzymes necessary for them to perform their functions in the body. Perhaps the body will have enough "extra" enzymes to co-enzymate 1-2% of synthetic vitamins (if it does so at all) but at least 98% will simply be excreted, giving a person "expensive urine". Synthetic multi's are worthless. Living whole foods or whole food multi's that contain active enzymes are the way to go.

Unknown said...

#1 EPA/DHA Omega-3 over 95% are deficient, #2 Magnesium over 80% are deficient, Alpha Lipoic Acid bodies master antioxidant - body quits producing at age 40, #4 Vitamin D3 (actually a hormone) deficiency may be the cause of insulin resistance (which over 70% of Americans have) and causes obesity, type 2 diabetes and most all chronic diseases. #5 B12 deficiency can cause early dementia. 2 large government studies show multiple vitamins do nothing, people who don't take them live longer than those who do. Probably because there is not enough of anything to have a positive health impact.

Vigrx Plus said...

Really an interesting post!!

LifeExtension said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I believe in organic food-based vitamins, too. Synthetic vitamins are mostly made from coal tar derivatives. RE: CoQ10 - some individuals experience severe fatigue on ubiquinol. This was reported on Dr. Sinatra's website from a study conducted. A friend of mine experienced alarming fatigue on ubiquinol. He quickly switched to ubiquinone and his energy shot back up. There is never a one size fits all. There are exceptions to the rule in everything because we all have our own unique DNA. I personally take ubiquinone and have experienced energy and improved neurological health. It's not just for heart matters. It is very efficacious with nervous system disorders as well. In closing, one must be aware of toxic excipients in their vitamins such as GMO soybean oil, artificial colors, propylene glycol, talc, carrageenan, titanium dioxide and possibly magnesium stearate. Buy the best quality that money can buy, and beware of hype.

Anonymous said...

I'm taking Milk Thistle, so do I need to also take the full amount of calcium supplements recommended? If not, how much calcium (if any) should I be taking without getting too much daily calcium intake in all?

Life Extension said...

Anonymous - It's important to ensure one obtains at least 800 mg of calcium daily through diet or supplementation.

Anonymous said...

One more question:
If I'm getting 350 mg of Milk Thistle and 110 mg of Milk Thistle seed daily, how much calcium is that?

Life Extension said...

Anonymous - To our knowledge, milk thistle is not a significant source of calcium.

Anonymous said...

There are some more but the listed 4 are enough nutrients to stay healthy.

Life Extension said...

Dynamin - This list is a great start! The best way to decide which supplements will be most beneficial is to determine your health concerns and what health outcomes you are looking to achieve. :)

Anonymous said...

I am at a Loss as to why low dose aspirin is ever recommended under any circumstances after my own research showing it has no real benefits and can actually be harmful for some people. Where as pomegranate extract is more effective and no possible dangerous side effects. My whole point in this comment is to get people to make better heathy choices over any types of prescription drugs or otc drugs. Sometimes during an emergence something else may be required short term to save a life or improve our health but only short term. Aspirin is not really a healthy choice for about anybody.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous - While we do believe individuals should talk to their doctor about more natural methods before using prescription medications, it is important to mention that there has been numerous health studies demonstrating the benefits of aspirin. Here's more info: http://ow.ly/VRuN309s556.

MedyLife said...

How much protein intake one needs to have in a day?

Life Extension said...

MedyLife - As a general rule, approximately 10% to 35% of your calories should come from protein. This translates to 46 grams of protein for the average woman and 56 grams for the average man. Active people will need more and children less. Pregnant women may require as much as 71 grams daily.

Elizabeth McGlone said...

Thanks Michael. Love your informative newsletter. Really enjoying your great articles. :)

Life Extension said...

Elizabeth McGlone - We're glad you enjoyed the post!

Colingwood said...

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. ketone supplements

Makeuptrends said...

Should we take protein supplements at night?

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