The Nutrition Science Blog

Practical, science-based articles to help you better understand how to eat in a way that is going to support your health. 

5 Supplements That May Be Worth Investing In

Nov 28, 2023

There is a lot of talk about the evils of "Big Pharma", but a lot of people fail to understand that the supplement industry might be worse...

The supplement industry is a $40 billion industry in the US alone and, unlike the pharmaceutical industry, regulations for what is put into products and sold to consumers is minimal. 

In fact a recent study (citation) tested 57 performance enhancing supplements and found that only 11% had within 10% of the listed quantities of the performance enhancing ingredients that they were being sold for. They also found that 10% of the supplements contained ingredients that were banned by the FDA .

All of this to say that you want to be very careful when taking a supplement and be skeptical when supplements are being promoted to you as having unique benefits because the reality is that most of them have very little benefits, IF ANY.

Supplements CAN be useful, however, if you choose the right dose of a quality supplement and choose to take them for the right reasons. 

There are two main reasons why I would recommend taking a supplement: 

  1. You are supplement replacing a nutrient that you are not getting enough of through your diet.
  2. You are supplement a compound that has been shown in HUMAN studies (more than one) to have benefits for a specific outcome you are wanting to achieve. 

For example, many people have low levels of Vitamin D. Taking a vitamin D supplement can help increase Vitamin D levels which can support bone health, immune health, and more. So for this reason it may be worth supplementing with Vitamin D.

An example of the 2nd is creatine for someone who is wanting to increase strength and lean muscle mass. Creatine has shown to be safe, well tolerated, and beneficial for these specific outcomes. So, in this case it would be worth considering (citation).

If a supplement doesn't meet one of these two criteria, it is probably best to skip it. 

The vast majority (95%+) of the results you achieve are going to come from your nutrition, exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle habits, NOT from a supplement or supplement stack. 

So now that I got that part out of the way, I want to discuss some supplements that might be beneficial for you.

So, let’s start with the first one and that is protein.

#1 Protein - Protein is not just important for muscle growth, protein provides amino acids which function as building blocks for every organ system in our body as well as for immune cells, neurotransmitters, hormones, and more. If we were building a house, proteins represent the bricks, sheet rock, and other materials that the house is made from.

Protein is also very filling and higher protein diets tend to help control apetite and energy intake better than diets lower in protein.

The average American is consuming only 16% of their total calories from protein, which is below the 1.2-16 g/kg/day that is considered “optimal”. (citation)

I discuss protein more on this podcast episode (protein podcast). Bottom line is that many people can benefit from eating more protein and using a protein supplement can help with that.

Just 1 scoop of protein per day mixed with water, yogurt, oatmeal, or into a smoothie, can help a lot of people meet their protein needs.

I like the Legion brand or whey and like the MRM veggie proteins.

Legion Whey

MRM Veggie Elite

And no I don’t recommend a collagen protein to meet your protein needs. I explain why here (Collagen podcast episode).

#2 Multivitamin - A multivitamin is the insurance policy when it comes to supplement nutrients that you may not be getting enough of through food. If you are eating a mostly unprocessed diet, that is not restrictive in any way and includes a wide variety of foods then you are probably meeting your nutrient needs quite well.

However, pregnant women, aging adults, picky eaters, and those on restrictive diets may be lacking in various nutrients that they may benefitting from supplementing. In this case, a multivitamin can serve as a “safety net” to ensure that you are getting those essential nutrients.

I discuss a lot more about this topic on this podcast episode (Multivitamin podcast

I personally like the options from Thorne (Basic Nutrients) and Pure Encapsulations (O.N.E. multivitamin). You can find those at my FullScript supplement dispensary where you can get 15% off of your supplement purchases.

Join here

Legion also has a good product for Men's and Women's multivitamins. It is well formulated, I just prefer to take less capsules. 

Legion Multivitamin  

#3 Vitamin D - Low vitamin D levels are associated with increased risk of fracture, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and more (citation). Vitamin D levels vary largely based on skin tone, sun exposure, where we live, and more. 

For this reason, it is important to get your vitamin D levels tested and supplement if needed. A standard dose is between 2,000 and 4,000 IU per day, but this will depend on vitamin D level. If it is very low, then the 4,000 IU dose is likely a better option.

Many Vitamin D supplements are sold with K2. This is because without vitamin K, vitamin D can increase calcium in the blood and Vitamin K helps to get it into the bones where it belongs and can’t cause harm.

The K is not NECESSARY, but this is the reason that a lot of companies are adding it.

You can order a vitamin D lab online here: Vitamin D lab test 

#4 Fish Oil - Fatty fish is rich in EPA/DHA which are types of fats that we can’t get from other foods. DHA is important for the development of our brain and nervous system and is especially important during development (birth and childhood) and EPA helps to reduce inflammation in our body.

If you don’t eat fatty fish weekly, chances are your consumption of EPA and DHA are going to be very low. Supplementing with a fish oil supplement (or an algae oil for those who are vegetarian) can be helpful here.  

I discuss this topic on a more in depth podcast episode that you can listen to here. Omega-3 episode

A general recommendation for fish oil is to take ~1 grams of EPA+DHA per day for an adult.

Legion makes a good fish oil supplement that you can find here. Just keep in mind that their suggested dose is quite high. Legion Fish Oil

I also like are Vital Nutrients and Nordic Naturals which you can find in my Fullscript dispensary linked above. 

#5 Magnesium -The last supplement on my list is magnesium. Nearly 60% of the US doesn’t consume enough magnesium through food each day and magnesium supplementation has shown to reduce the frequency of migraines, reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and stroke, and improve sleep quality in older adults (citation)

You can find dietary sources of magnesium here (magnesium). If you find that you are not consuming enough magnesium rich food sources and/or you experience migraines, poor sleep, restless legs, anxiety, etc. and you think that you can benefit from a magnesium supplement it may be worth a shot.

With supplements you don’t want to go over 400 mg per day, most studies use about 300. Nearly any form of magnesium works. Here is a good option from legion. Magnesium supplement

I also like the Natural Calm supplement as well. Natural Calm

Bonus: Creatine - A bonus one that I am  including  is creatine. If you engage in resistance training and you are wanting to increase strength and lean muscle mass, creatine is a supplement worth taking. Creatine has shown to be safe, well tolerated, and it may even have some cognitive benefits (citation).

A standard dose of creatine is 5 grams per day. You can buy pure plain creatine here which is what I do. Creatine Plain 

Legion also has a post-workout creatine supplement that may also be a good option if you don’t like just drinking the plain powder and prefer something with taste. Legion Recharge 
Bonus Bonus: Pre-workout

I am going to offer another bonus here and that is pre-workout. This one is absolutely NOT NECESSARY, but it can help with performance in the gym and increase the productive during your exercise training.

I don’t use a preworkout all of the time, but I do like to use it for that extra boost when I want to kick things up a notch.

A good preworkout is going to have some caffeine, some beta-alanine which causes the tingly feeling but helps you lift a little more, and some ccitrulline which helps our blood vessels dilate,

I’ve tried a lot of preworkouts and Legion is my favorite product. I’ve been using this one one and off for years and don’t see myself ever switching. Legion Pre-workout

These are the main supplements that you will find me recommending. There are other more specialized supplements that can be useful in very specific scenarios, but those are more for clinical use rather than general population.

Remember supplements are not harmless and most of them are not effective so be skeptical when taking any and focus your energy on your diet and lifestyle FIRST And stay away from the liver pills, greens powders, functional mushrooms, salt supplements, and other supplements being widely promoted as having special health benefits.

These people just want to make commissions from you buying a product you don’t need.

Speaking of commissions, if you click any link on this page, I will receive a small commission for your purchase.

This will never sway me to recommend something that I don’t believe in.

Otherwise, this article would be titled “Top 15 supplements you NEED to optimize your health” and I would be telling you to take colostrum, greens powders, functional mushrooms, and MORE…

I choose giving helpful advice that is going to improve people’s health over increased commissions any day.  

Hope this helps!

Dr. Adrian Chavez Newsletter

Want Actionable Nutrition and Health Advice Delivered to Your Inbox?

Stay up to date with our latest content, new programs and courses, special discounts and more!

You're safe with me. I'll never spam you or sell your contact info.