There are five supplements I think every adult should take. The first one is a whole-food based multivitamin.

A recent article in Reader’s Digest called vitamins a scam and said that taking them is a waste of money. It cited a study of 160,000 mid-life women that showed no difference in health with respect to the big diseases like cancer, heart disease and stroke, from taking a multivitamin. But as with all studies, you need to dig deeper—in this case because not all vitamins are created equal. (I am always suspect when a magazine whose advertising is largely from pharmaceutical companies says vitamins are worthless.)

The article challenges the benefits of certain individual supplements, such as vitamins A or E, which will likely have little, if any, effect when taken in isolation without proper co-factors. The article does recommend one standalone vitamin that should be taken by everyone: vitamin D. I’ve discussed the importance of vitamin D in another chapter and the rampant deficiency among children and adults today, so I couldn’t agree more. Vitamin D3 can stand on its own and I take it daily; most other vitamins need to be taken together as part of a complete nutritional package.

Eating a whole food and plant-based diet will go a long way toward staying healthy and I strongly recommend we do both. We cannot eat too many dark leafy green vegetables and we should be eating the rainbow (fruits and vegetables that cover every spectrum of color from white to orange, red, green and purple.) But I also take a whole food multivitamin and a whole food raw green superfood powder, because the truth is, it is very difficult to get the nutrients we need from our modern food supply.

These days, to offset the bad fats and processed food sugars we consume and to restore balance within our bodies, we need more vegetables than ever. We are not just eating to fuel our bodies, we are eating to heal our bodies from the inflammation and oxidation of our processed diets. It’s getting harder to get the nutrients we need because in addition to the packaged and prepared foods in our diets, our fresh food supply is not as vitamin rich as it used to be. Soil has been depleted of nutrients, food is sprayed with chemicals and pesticides or is genetically modified to grow bigger or to resist disease, and then it is transported hundreds or thousands of miles to get to our tables.

If you go to a farm or a market and buy fresh produce, you know that after a few days on your counter, it will begin to go bad. Now think about the grapes or tomatoes you are buying from the opposite coast or from South America. They were picked, packaged and then shipped (sometimes by barge) to the U.S., sent out by truck across the country to your local market, displayed on the shelf for several days and then finally taken home.

For the produce to survive that trip looking fresh and beautiful and without bruising, it is heavily sprayed with chemicals, and picked before it is ripe and allowed to mature along the way. Once the fruit leaves the vine, it doesn’t get the sun and the nutrients any longer, it doesn’t fully develop the enzymes and phytonutrients that are usually present in mature fresh picked local produce.

(I talk a lot more about organic versus local and making better fruit and vegetable choices in the chapters on produce, but you should also know that many chemicals and pesticides banned in the U.S. are still used freely in the foreign countries from which we buy produce.)

Studies estimate more than 50% of nutrient value is lost in the journey from farm to table. So even if you are doing your best to eat a lot of good fruits and veggies, unless you have access to a local farm, it is hard to get food with the nutritional profile you need for health. Then you’d have to eat a lot of it, and how many of us can sit down and eat a bunch of tomatoes or a basket full of kale. You’ll feel full long before you can finish, especially if you paired it with a big piece of meat protein or dairy.

While I fantasize about growing my own food, here in New England, with a long, cold winter and a busy life with two kids and work, it’s not possible at the moment. I do my best to shop at local farmers’ markets for fresh produce, and I buy flash frozen organic produce when I can’t. But despite my best efforts, I do not believe that I can get the nutrition I need without taking a multivitamin (my kids take one too).

But there is a big difference among multivitamins. There are natural organic whole food based products that when manufactured correctly leave the integrity of the whole food intact.

When looking for a good whole food supplement, keep in mind that whole foods are just that: whole foods. Look for ingredients such as carrots, spinach, wheat grass, spirulina, kale, celery etc. There will be vitamins listed as well but their sources will also be present: The original foods from which they were derived. When the ingredient list reads more like a science report than a grocery list, and there are no food sources included just isolated chemicals, it’s typically comprised of manmade synthetic compounds.

Because synthetic vitamins are created in a lab to simulate the real thing, they are often not identical in the way they interact with or are absorbed by the body. They are often missing minerals, nutrients and other requisite co-factors for assimilation. In addition, they often contain cheap fillers and binders from ingredients like sand and titanium dioxide, dibasic calcium phosphate and microcrystalline cellulose, they are ingredients that our bodies cannot absorb and that may even be harmful to us. Many common over-the-counter vitamins are passed through the stool whole and intact. (Centrum is famous for this).

Taking a multivitamin that includes a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and nutrients can make a difference, but only if it is bioavailable and bioabsorpable; in other words your body can actually break down and absorb the nutrients. That is not possible with synthetic vitamins. I prefer a whole food-based product that is as close to what I should be eating as possible, and made from the real thing, not created to imitate it.

Interestingly the Readers Digest article’s main argument against taking multivitamins said, “These days, you’re extremely unlikely to be deficient if you eat an average America diet, if only because many packaged foods are vitamin enriched.”

Think about that for a moment.

Food manufacturers strip out all the vitamins that exist in the food during the manufacturing process. Then they “enrich” them, by adding back cheap lab-created imitations. They want us to believe that these created versions are the same as the original, but research shows they are not: you cannot duplicate naturally occurring nutrients from synthetic ingredients. In addition, they will be missing enzymes and cofactors required for assimilation. When I see “enriched” on a food label, I know to stay away.

The truth is that enriched foods do not add vital nutrients to our bodies, nor will synthetic vitamin pills. The best way to get what we need is from the whole food source. Nature intended us to eat vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and phytonutrients together as they work synergistically. When whole food supplements are made the right way, they maintain a multitude of the plants original components and the integrity of the food source.

So eat as much good stuff as you can. Buy local when you can, organic if possible. But given the nutrient levels in today’s soil and ultimately, food supply, along with the long transit times and warehouse distribution processes, even if you eat really well, you probably won’t get all the nutrients you need from food. Most — if not all — of us will still need to supplement with a whole food-based supplement to bridge the gap for long-term health and wellness.

Click to read the next installment of the series: 5 Supplements Every Adult Should Take

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


This is part five of a series on the supplements I think every adult should take. Previous issues focused on whole-food based multivitamins, ubiquinol, fiber and omega 3.

The final supplement on the list is vitamin D, which is made in our bodies through sun exposure. But today, we simply don’t get enough direct exposure to sunshine, without sunscreen, to make the vitamin D we need.

Vitamin D helps with bone health by facilitating calcium absorption. It also plays an important role in many other healthy body functions. Vitamin D has been shown to improve immune health and heart health, protect against cancer, autoimmune diseases, depression and a host of other conditions.

Vitamin D deficiency is a major cause for concern as it affects multiple systems in our bodies. Vitamin D deficiency is far more pervasive than previously believed, with research now indicating virtually all adults and children have lower than optimal vitamin D levels.

The only way to know how much vitamin D you need on a daily basis is to get your levels tested a couple of months after you begin to supplement. You want to see levels of 125-200 nmol/L, or nanomoles per liter. (Sometimes test results are reported in nanograms per milliliter or ng/ml. It’s the same test, just a different measurement: Like miles per hour versus feet per second. If your test results are in ng/ml, you will want to see at least 50 ng/ml for optimal vitamin D function.)

Estimates now suggest that 5,000 International Units, or IU, of vitamin D a day or 35 IU per pound for kids or heavier people is appropriate. But some of us need more: I was recently listening to a renowned brain expert say that as a physician, he was shocked (since he lives in southern California and is exposed to sunshine all year) when he found out after vitamin D testing that his body required 10,000 IU a day to function at its optimal level

My whole food multivitamin contains 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 and I get plenty of daily summer sunshine, so I don’t take a supplement in summer. But most multivitamins have shockingly low levels of vitamin D3. So even if you are taking a good whole-food multivitamin, you’ll most likely need to add some D3, unless you get time outside without sunscreen every day. And even though my multivitamin provides a good baseline, I still find that I need to supplement with an additional 1,000-2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 during the long New England winters. Unless you are in a warm weather climate, you probably will too.

If you haven’t read the full article on vitamin D, you should. Before we leave the topic of supplements, I want briefly mention three other supplements that did not make my top five list that you may want to consider: collagen, probiotics and DIM.


If you read the chapter on bone health, you know how important collagen is to avoiding bone fractures. You can and should get your collagen from eating good collagen-rich foods like dark green leafy vegetables. But if you find—like many—that you may not be eating enough collagen and you are not taking a good whole-food multivitamin, you may want to consider collagen supplementation.

As I shared in another chapter, in order to maintain my weight and to prevent blood sugar issues, I try to eat small amounts of protein, healthy fats (omegas 3s) and fiber at every meal or snack. If I am ever in a situation where I am not consuming protein, I will take a collagen supplement (and a fiber or omega 3 supplement if needed) for balance. While not nearly as good as eating the right foods, in a pinch, it’s better than taking in carbohydrates (sugar) without any having protein to balance it out since carbs ingested without a protein counterbalance are stored as fat in the body.

Probiotics/Digestive Enzymes

We’ve all heard of antibiotics: They kill off or inhibit the growth of bacteria. But antibiotics also kill off the healthy bacteria in our digestive tract and inhibit our ability to digest food and to absorb nutrients. Probiotics contain the beneficial flora that your digestive system needs and digestive enzymes that work in your stomach to help break down foods. Both can be damaged by illness, poor diet and antibiotics, so if you have experienced any of those and have not taken a course of probiotics and enzymes afterward, your digestive system is likely not operating at top capacity.

Probiotics and digestive enzymes are also a must if you have digestive concerns such as cramps, constipation, diarrhea, gas or bloating or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. If you struggle with allergies or asthma, food sensitivities such as sugar or gluten, yeast infections or urinary tract infections, rosacea, acne or skin conditions, headaches or migraines, chronic bad breath (halitosis), PMS or hormonal imbalance, or achy joints, you should consider probiotic supplementation.

Depending on how long and how strong your course of antibiotics was, or how severe your digestive concerns are and what your diet is like (if it is very acidic), you may want to stay on probiotics for a while to ensure balance is restored and maintained. At a minimum, you’ll want to take probiotics and digestive enzymes while taking antibiotics and for several weeks afterward. A two to three month supplementation cycle is great for restoring balance and digestive health after any significant stress to your digestive system. Eating yogurt can help, but your body most likely needs more help than yogurt alone can provide.

Even if you haven’t had antibiotics lately or faced a digestive health concern, your system could still be imbalanced from a concern long ago. Probiotics can help restore balance if you have a heavily acidic diet that promotes yeast and causes other imbalances in your digestive pathway. I recommend a month (or two) of probiotic and digestive enzyme supplementation every year to help ensure your digestive system has everything it needs to maximize the nutrient absorption of the food you are eating.

There are many different probiotic strains and each works differently in the body, so you may need to experiment with more than one brand to find the right one. If you are facing a specific issue, research your condition to find the best strains. The right probiotic should make a difference within the first week or two. If you don’t see improvement after two weeks, try another brand with different strains of bacteria. If you are just looking to restore balance annually with no specific concerns, choose a highly rated probiotic that has bifidobacteria and lactobacillus acidophilus in the billions.

DIM or Diindolylmethane

Diindolylmethane, or DIM, promotes healthy hormonal balance through beneficial estrogen metabolism. DIM is a naturally occurring phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage or collards), which we know are good for us, but do not eat nearly enough of. DIM can balance estrogen by blocking “bad” estrogen and promoting good or beneficial estrogen in our bodies.

For women, healthy estrogen metabolism prevents breast, cervical and uterine cancers; for men, it is required for prostate health. (Men, you have estrogen in your bodies and are exposed to it in foods and the environment as well, so it’s just as important for you!) I speak more about the connection of DIM to prostrate health in the chapter on Prostate Health.

Not everyone needs DIM, so it didn’t make my top five list. But if you’re concerned about hormonal balance, fibers, tumors or reproductive cancers or prostate health, DIM is a supplement you should consider taking daily. (I found it quiets my hot flashes.) Generally speaking, unless cancer runs in your family, you are perimenopausal or suffer from pre-menstrual syndrome and/or you are already struggling with reproductive issues like fibroids or hysterectomy, it’s something you can wait to take until you’re in your 50s.

Research has shown that most DIM supplements cannot be absorbed; they require microencapsulation. Only one company, BioResponse, has a patented microencapsulation with extended release nanoparticles, ensuring predictable absorption. This company is the only brand being used in all the published clinical trials, including those sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, so it’s the one I take and recommend.


To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art

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