The Best Supplements For Health According to Registered Dietitians

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The best supplements for health should truly be individualized based on your diet and risk factors for various diseases. 

However, there are some dietary supplements that most people would benefit from taking. 

When taken appropriately, these supplements can help you feel better, sleep better, and even have a better outlook.

Let’s look at the most effective supplements for health based on the research we have today. 

This post highlights 10 types of supplements that most people would benefit from considering according to Registered Dietitians including myself.

Also included are lists of supplements that would help certain health conditions. 

Best Supplements for Health Overview

Dietary supplements are very useful tools to make up for a lacking diet. 

The average American has nutrient deficiencies and runs low in many healing compounds

To make up for the lack of quality foods, supplements can be a big help with looking better and feeling better. 

Still, the quality of the vitamins and supplements should be an important consideration when you buy supplements. Watch out for unhealthy fillers and additives, according to registered Dietitian Danielle Omar, RDN.

Supplements are used best by the body in their natural forms

The body isn’t easily tricked by synthetic vitamins; these factory-made vitamins just don’t cut it when it comes to quality. 

To find the best supplements, they should also be third-party tested or produced by a Good Manufacturing Practices-certified company. 

Also, make sure to look for gel caps or capsules instead of tablets. Tablets are usually full of unwanted fillers.

A new book release in Medical Nutrition called Gut Fix written by Heidi Moretti, MS, RD goes deep into the topic of supplement quality and uses.  It helps you learn more in-depth information about finding quality supplements.  

Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2

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The benefits of vitamin D3 are vast because this nutrient acts as a hormone in the body. Not only is vitamin D helpful for bone health, it plays a major role in reducing the chances of getting autoimmune diseases, mood issues, and chronic pain. As a bonus, it may help protect you from getting sick and help support overall immune health

Chrissy Carroll RDN is a dietitian who recommends vitamin D and observes that even healthy athletes are often not getting enough vitamin D.

Many experts in the field, including myself, recommend checking vitamin D blood levels at least twice a year. 

Vitamin D is best taken with a lesser-known nutrient called vitamin K2, which helps the body use vitamin D and is a vitamin D cofactor. Most people are low in both nutrients and don’t know it.

Interestingly vitamin K2 is also a nutrient that helps protect heart health and is great for digestive health and bone protection. 

One caution: if you are on a medication called warfarin, you should avoid taking vitamin K2 unless you discuss it with your healthcare provider. 

But, for the rest of us, vitamin K2 makes sense because eating a Western diet almost guarantees that you are deficient in this newly recognized essential nutrient. Even children are surprisingly low in this important vitamin. 

Magnesium

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Magnesium is an essential mineral that has over 300 functions in the body and plays a role in 80% of our metabolic functions. 

Yet it is astounding that over half of Americans get less magnesium than they should in their diets. 

Then, consider that many medications cause our bodies to lose magnesium. 

Additionally, exercise and sweating cause a loss of magnesium. 

Magnesium-rich foods also don’t have as much magnesium as they used to due to modern farming practices.

Combine all of these factors, and the odds are, you may benefit from supplemental magnesium. It is very helpful for conditions like irritable bowel syndrome too. 

This nutrient is critical for heart health, brain health, and hormone health. Consider that magnesium may even reduce the symptoms of hot flashes and improve sleep quality

Also, magnesium supplements help to lower blood pressure and may also lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. 

Supplementing magnesium can be a good option for many people, but as always, check with your healthcare provider before adding a magnesium supplement. 

Fish Oil

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Fish oil, found primarily in oily fish, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which is an essential nutrient for our bodies. 

Sadly, most people don’t get enough omega-3 fats from foods like fish to be at their healthiest. Registered Dietitian Moushumi Mukherjee MS, RDN recommends supplementing fish oil to help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. 

The healthy fats you get from fish oil are good for joint health, heart health, brain health, skin health, autoimmune risk reduction, dental health, eye health, and immune health. 

Using fish oil has been linked to a huge reduction in healthcare costs and even improved intelligence in children. 

But you should know that not all fish oil is the same. Most of it is poorly absorbed into the body because it is in an esther form. To get the most from your fish oil, it is best to get it in triglyceride form. 

Luckily, cod liver oil is in the best form for absorption. If you don’t want to try cod liver oil, you can find some fish oil brands in their natural triglyceride form. 

Contrary to popular belief, cod liver oil only has a moderate amount of vitamin A and isn’t linked to adverse effects. In fact, using cod liver oil may improve bone density

You can learn how to find the best cod liver oil supplements in my recent blog. 

Vitamin C

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Vitamin C is one of the most popular types of supplements on the market today and for good reason. 

Doug Cook RDN, another Registered Dietitian, recommends vitamin C for optimal health. 

This antioxidant nutrient helps to reduce the chance of getting respiratory infections, reduces inflammation, and has anti-aging effects because it helps the body make collagen

Because of its role in making collagen, vitamin C may also help improve bone density. 

It also helps reduce the symptoms of allergies and reduces mental and physical fatigue. 

The best form of vitamin C is called liposomal vitamin C because it has an increased absorption and use in the body compared to other forms of vitamin C. 

Probiotics

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Probiotics have become mainstream for very good reasons. 

As healthy bacteria, they help with so many functions in the body. 

From reducing the chances of infection, such as urinary tract infections and candida, to helping reduce the severity of menstrual periods, probiotics are here to stay. 

Much research also shows that probiotics reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress. According to Anne Marie Berggen, a dietitian at Root Deep Nutrition, probiotics can be a simple step towards improving mood and reducing depression symptoms too. 

All the while, probiotics also are useful for reducing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Not only that, they can reduce the symptoms of stomach acid reflux

Children also benefit from probiotics. From improving mood to reducing chances of ear infections and colic, probiotics have a long track record of safety in most people. Kids and teens gain benefits for their immune systems and keeping their digestive system regular with probiotics according to Danielle Omar, Registered Dietitian. 

Still, it is important to consider your overall health and discuss them with your healthcare practitioner before taking probiotics. This is because probiotics have some risks in susceptible people

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B Vitamins

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B vitamins are not one, but many types of vitamins. This category of vitamins helps the body make energy and turn our food into usable calories. 

Each type of B vitamin is essential and has its own set of unique functions in the body.

  • Vitamin B1: also known as thiamine, is important for turning glucose into energy. Ironically, sugar and processed foods cause the body to be low in this nutrient as do many prescriptions and alcohol.
  • Vitamin B2: also known as riboflavin, is a nutrient that acts as an antioxidant. It is the nutrient that gets the credit for giving your urine its yellow color after taking supplements. Its helps turn food into energy and helps the body make tryptophan into niacin. 
  • Vitamin B3: also known as niacin or NAD, helps the body turn protein into energy and helps the body metabolize carbohydrates. A deficiency of niacin is much more common than most people realize. 
  • Vitamin B5: or pantothenic acid has a primary role in fat metabolism. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, vitamin B5 deficiency is rare. 
  • Vitamin B6: or pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P) is a nutrient critical for protein metabolism. It plays a role in a healthy mood, reducing stress, and reducing chances of kidney stones.
  • Vitamin B7: known as biotin plays a role in fat metabolism and is essential for keeping nerves healthy. It is also linked to healthy skin and hair. 
  • Vitamin B9: or folate is a nutrient that plays a role in reproduction, making red blood cells, and reduces inflammation in the body. It is best to choose methylfolate supplements instead of folic acid because the latter is synthetic and doesn’t work well for some people.
  • Vitamin B12 known as cobalamin is a common nutrient deficiency linked to health problems like nerve damage and anemia. Restrictive diets and low stomach acid are common causes of vitamin B12 deficiency

How to Supplement B Vitamins

B-complex vitamin supplements are a great addition to many people’s diets. If you want a natural source of all B vitamins, the best food is grassfed beef liver.  

When it comes to adding supplemental B vitamins, choose carefully to get natural ones and not synthetic ones if you want the most benefit from your supplements. 

Read more about the best natural vitamins

Coenzyme Q10

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As a critical antioxidant in the body, coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinol, has very few downsides.  Beyond functioning as an antioxidant, coenzyme Q10 helps with the metabolism of fat, carbohydrates, and protein in our bodies. 

Coenzyme Q10’s health benefits are immense because our cells depend on it to make energy. It reduces oxidative damage in our bodies and prevents free radicals. 

Common medications like cholesterol-lowering drugs and blood pressure medications deplete this critical antioxidant too. 

Also, people with fibromyalgia, migraines, neurological diseases, and chronic fatigue often feel better when they take coenzyme Q10. 

CoQ10 supplements are safe and helpful for most people and side effects are very rare. 

Using coenzyme Q10 isn’t likely to interact with medications either. However, you should always check in with your health provider before adding coQ10 supplements.

Zinc

You can get a flu shot, but have you been paying attention to your nutrition for sickness prevention?  

Many nutrients play a role in your ability to fight off infections, and zinc is one you don’t want to be without. 

According to Registered Dietitian Doug Cook, RDN, low zinc levels in the body put you at increased risk of infections, including common colds and influenza. 

Low zinc levels can also contribute to sexual dysfunction, acne, allergies, and digestive symptoms like diarrhea. 

Sadly, many common over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs can make zinc levels low. These include stomach acid drugs, ibuprofen, and blood pressure medications to name a few. 

The typical American diet is also low in zinc, so many people can benefit from low doses of supplemental zinc regularly. 

But if you do take zinc, you should also make sure to use a moderate dose and make sure your multivitamin also has copper in it to avoid a copper deficiency. Also, avoid taking high doses of zinc for more than a week to avoid the risk of low copper levels.

Choline

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If there is a nutrient that doesn’t get enough attention in the news, it is choline. Choline is an essential building block for virtually every cell in our body. 

Yet research shows that over 90% of Americans don’t eat adequate amounts of choline, including pregnant and lactating women. This is a problem because choline is critical for normal brain development and is important for memory. 

According to Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD a dietitian and health writer, choline is a very common deficiency. Another registered dietitian, Brittany Poulson, advocates for higher levels of choline in prenatal vitamins. Until then, choline supplements in pregnant and breastfeeding women can be useful. 

Low levels of choline have been linked to an increased risk of liver diseases, heart disease, and neurological diseases. Using choline may also help gallbladder issues and may help liver health too.

Here are the Recommended Daily Intake amounts for choline:

  • Women: 425 milligrams
  • Men: 550 milligrams
  • Pregnant women: 450 milligrams
  • Breastfeeding women: 550 milligrams

Choline is found in a variety of foods. However, animal foods, especially eggs and organ meats like liver, have the most choline. 

One large egg or 3/4 cup of roasted soybeans gives you around 30% of your daily choline intake. A serving of liver will meet almost 100% of your daily needs for choline. 

Choline Supplementation Risks vs Benefits

You may not get enough choline if you limit or avoid animal foods according to research. 

If you don’t regularly eat organ meats, whole soybeans, or eggs, you may need to supplement choline in your diet. 

While some research shows that choline can increase TMAO, which is a potential risk factor for heart disease, other studies show that choline does not affect TMAO levels.

In fact, choline-rich eggs do not raise cholesterol and do not increase TMAO, contrary to previous theories.  

Supplemental doses of choline are usually safe if you stick to around 250 mg of choline per day. Most prenatal vitamins sadly don’t have choline in them according to Registered Dietitan Malina Malkani, MS, RDN.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that has been used for thousands of years to enhance the flavor of foods and provide natural health benefits. This golden spice has a lot of research behind its benefits for health. 

For example, research shows that turmeric helps to decrease inflammation, and may help reduce symptoms of joint pain even in people with rheumatoid arthritis.  Other studies suggest that turmeric may even help reduce the symptoms of depression. 

Turmeric’s active compound is called curcumin. Unfortunately, it is difficult to absorb by the body in its natural state. 

According to Registered Dietitian Anne Marie Berggren, the form of turmeric that is best for absorption and effectiveness is called curcuRouge®, which can be found in the product called Curalieve, Integrative Therapeutics. 

Another great option for people who want anti-inflammatory benefits is called black seed oil

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Best Supplements for Gut Health

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Odds are, you are among the ranks of most Americans suffering from digestive issues. While not all digestive issues are the same, most supplements mentioned above are a good foundation for improving gut health.

Improving your diet quality by eating whole foods and skipping processed foods and sugar helps gut health. Adding apple cider vinegar to your diet can be a useful tool for things like gas and bloating as one example. 

But some additional supplements may be helpful for you. 

Other beneficial supplements to consider for improving digestion:

  • Collagen provides healing amino acids for the gut such as glycine that promote gut healing and joint health. It is also helpful for improving bone density and improving skin and hair health according to Registered Dietitian Alex Evink, MS, RD
  • Bone Broth Powder has both collagen and glutamine along with healthy minerals that can assist with gut health. 
  • Chlorella is a very nutritious type of algae that helps to reduce the toxin levels in the body, including the gut. 
  • Glutamine reduces inflammation in the gut and also helps heal the gut lining. By doing so, glutamine also helps reduce IBS symptoms
  • Colostrum reduces diarrhea symptoms and helps heal the gut. 
  • Digestive enzymes help the body absorb food better and reduce bloating and IBS symptoms. As a bonus, they can help reduce food intolerances. 
  • TUDCA is a type of bile acid that helps to improve stomach health by reducing dyspepsia and protecting the digestive tract from inflammation. It also supports liver health and gallbladder health. A natural way to get TUDCA is to take ox bile
  • Fiber can be helpful for gut health, but in ways many people don’t think; it’s useful for helping with diarrhea. As a prebiotic, it can help support a healthy microbiome. 

Best Supplements for Hormone Health

Some hormonal issues may benefit from additional supplements beyond the usual ones. If you want to help balance your hormones naturally, there are a few to consider.

Here are some of the best hormone-balancing supplements:

  • Saw Palmetto is a natural berry that helps balance testosterone and both women and men because it helps to reduce 5-alpha reductase levels.  It also is helpful for prostate health and urinary health. 
  • Inositol is also known as vitamin B8, which helps balance blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity, helps with weight loss, and helps increase testosterone in men. Another benefit of inositol is that it helps to improve mood and reduce premenstrual symptoms (PMS) for some people.  
  • Herbal remedies can be useful tools for balancing hormones. For example, black seed oil helps balance insulin and thyroid levels in the body.
  • Adaptogens help balance hormones in the body that are due to stress-related imbalances. Good examples of adaptogens include ginseng, Reishi mushrooms, Tulsi, rhodiola, and maca root. 
  • Iodine deficiency is common, which is unfortunate because it is critical for hormone health, including thyroid function. According to Doug Cook, a Registered Dietitian, iodine is a nutrient you are going to want to make sure you get enough of. 
  • Vitamin A deficiency can cause thyroid hormone imbalances.  Interestingly, vitamin A also reduces heavy menstrual periods according to research. 
  • Iron is a key nutrient to keep us focused and energized because it helps to make thyroid hormones.  If you don’t have enough iron, you can be susceptible to heavy periods, ironically.  
  • Probiotics help to balance hormonal issues related to menstrual cycles. 
  • Broccoli sprouts extract is a great supplement option for people who want to naturally help detoxify estrogen. 
  • Organ meats help naturally balance hormones in the body because they are the most nutrient-dense foods.

Best Supplements for Eye Health

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The fact that supplements help reduce the chances of age-related eye diseases is indisputable. 

Using a combination of vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, selenium, copper, and vitamin C as found in vitamins like Preservision® reduces the risk of getting macular degeneration according to very large clinical studies. 

While these nutrients are important to take, here are some others to consider:

  • Vitamin A as retinyl palmitate helps improve dark adaptation and retinal function. 
  • Astaxanthin reduces dry eye symptoms, improves retinal function, and improves overall vision scores according to some research. 
  • B-vitamins including vitamin B6 as P5P, folate, and vitamin B12 reduce the risk of macular degeneration and may improve diabetic eye disease symptoms. 
  • Fish oil helps reduce dry eye symptoms and may reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Cod liver oil is the best choice because it is best absorbed compared to other types of fish oil. 

Best Supplements for Athletes

Healthy eating is the cornerstone of performing well for athletes, 

However, athletes sometimes need supplements above and beyond the diet and a multivitamin with minerals and the supplements recommended above. This is because they have increased losses of nutrients but also an increase in nutrient needs to perform well. 

Whey protein powders can be useful for getting enough protein in your diet, and Registered Dietitian Katie Schimmelpfenning recommends aiming for whey protein isolate amounts of around 20 grams per serving. She suggests that creatine and tart cherry supplements can also be helpful for athletes. 

According to Laural Deininger, MS, RD, protein powders can also be useful for helping people manage diabetes in some situations.

Beetroot powder increases energy levels and performance during exercise. 

Electrolyte Powders are helpful for people who do strenuous physical activity and are less likely to have empty calories than pre-made electrolyte drinks. 

Best Supplements for Mood

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The brain needs a steady supply of nutrients of all kinds. 

So it should come as no surprise that modern diets today lack the right amounts of nutrients to have a healthy mood and balanced brain. 

The general recommendations for getting adequate vitamin D, omega 3 fats, vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron, avoiding excess sugar, and limiting unhealthy oils help promote a resilient brain. 

Avoiding food sensitivities like gluten may also help. 

In addition, some supplements may also boost mood and protect against stress. They include:

  • L-tyrosine when combined with 5-HTP as a dietary supplement can help improve outlook and mood.  These are both natural amino acids that are essential in the body. 
  • Betaine is made of the natural amino acid glycine which helps make happy mood chemicals. It is especially useful for people with MTHFR genes
  • Medicinal Mushrooms including Lion’s Mane mushrooms and Reishi mushrooms have long been used to support a healthy brain and a healthy mood. Herbal remedies that support hormone health are also useful for a balanced mood.

Best Supplements for Allergies

Just like other aspects of health, nutrients, and herbs can be useful for reducing the symptoms of allergies. 

Foods can have anti-histamine effects too, such as ginger, onions, apples, berries, and celery

Supplements can be helpful for allergies, such as:

  • Colostrum binds allergens in the gut and improves the body’s immune response. 
  • Stinging nettle helps to reduce allergy symptoms and some research shows it may work even better than prescription antihistamines. 
  • Vitamin C helps allergies by decreasing the release of histamine from mast cells. 
  • DAO enzyme is required to break down histamine in the body and helps allergy symptoms in people. 
  • Quercetin helps reduce the body’s reactions to allergens
  • Kidney organs contain the enzyme called DAO which breaks down histamine in the body. 

FAQs

What is the most popular supplement?

Vitamin D is the most popular supplement in the United States.

Do supplements actually work?

They do if you are low in any of the vitamins, minerals, healing compounds, or antioxidants that you choose to supplement. However, if you choose to supplement low-quality over-the-counter vitamins, they likely won’t be of much help.

Can I take multiple kinds of supplements at once?

It depends on the supplements you are choosing. The supplements listed in this post are generally recognized as safe by the FDA.

However, you should follow the label instructions to avoid taking too much or too little of the supplements you are taking. As always, review them with your healthcare provider to be sure you are taking a good combination of supplements.

Contrary to popular belief, vitamin C and vitamin B12 can be taken together. The vitamin C does not block vitamin B12 absorption.

Another popular myth is that you can’t take vitamin B12 with food but you can. For example, research shows that vitamin B12 from dairy foods is very well absorbed even though it has calcium in it.

Fun fact about folate: the foods with the most bioavailable folate are eggs and beef liver. According to Registered Dietitian Anne Marie Berggren, RDN supplementing methyl folate is superior to folic acid if you need to take a supplement of folate. 

Fun fact about vitamin B6: although bananas contain vitamin B6, it is a plant form of vitamin B6 that isn’t readily used by the body. 

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. While The Healthy RD’s posts are backed by research, you are unique, so you must seek care from your dietitian or healthcare provider. This post is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before changing your supplement regimen or lifestyle.

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