Supplements: Improve Your Diet with the Right Stuff

In addition to probiotics, I take a number of other supplements, and I have for decades. There is absolutely no way that one can get optimal nutrition from food alone. Even when you eat organic most of the time, soils in which foods are grown have been depleted, so it’s not as nutrition-packed as it used to be. Also, food loses nutrients when it’s shipped or stored. You would have to eat enormous amounts of food to get anything close to optimal nutrient levels.

So here are the nutrient supplements I believe everyone needs:

A good multivitamin/mineral: Look for supplements that are NSF GMP registered and pharmaceutical grade with guaranteed potency on the label. Evaluate your supplement based on the CAPPS formula: Completeness, Absorbability, Potency, Purity, Safety. I personally use USANA products and have for years. I have toured the facility in which they are produced and know all the nutritional scientists who make them. I like them so much that I’m actually an independent USANA distributor now. But USANA isn’t the only good brand out there. I also like Metagenics. If you can’t get these or if you’re already using something and want to find out how good it is, consult the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements by Lyle MacWilliam.

Iodine: We need around 12.5 milligrams per day. If you have thyroid problems, start very slowly. Maine Coast dulse seaweed is a great source. I also use a type of liquid iodine called Survival Shield. One to two dropperfuls a day (available online).

Vitamin C: Try to get 1,000–5,000 milligrams per day. I keep a large bottle of 1,000-milligram capsules of pure ascorbic acid at my house at all times. The brand I use is Pure Encapsulations. This vitamin is an über-antioxidant that is so potent at stopping infection that it was used decades ago intravenously to cure polio.

When I feel a cold coming on—or feel run down in any way—I literally grab a handful of these vitamin C capsules. Sometimes I take up to 50 a day. You know you’ve reached tissue saturation when you get loose stools. Bowel tolerance varies among different individuals. Some can’t tolerate more than 2,000 milligrams per day. But here’s what you need to know: One mosquito bite will cause your serum vitamin C to plummet. So will one cigarette—or even secondhand smoke. So vitamin C is a kind of all purpose natural preventive medicine cabinet!

Vitamin D: We need 5,000 IU (international units) per day to maintain an optimal blood level of 40 to 85 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). It sometimes takes far more than 5,000 IU per day to get your blood levels optimal. Test kits for home testing are available at, a site that houses the most cutting-edge vitamin D research in the world. Note: Optimal levels of vitamin D decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS) by 50 percent! Regular sun exposure—working up to 20 to 30 minutes, three times per week, over as much of your body as possible during the summer months, also greatly reduces your risk for cancer and other health problems. Thirty minutes of sun exposure will give you about 10,000 IU of vitamin D production underneath your skin. Avoid sunburn; research now shows that the increased risk of skin cancer from sun exposure is greatly outweighed by the other health benefits of sunlight. And the adverse effects of avoiding the sun are so robust that lack of sunlight has been compared to smoking as a risk factor for diseases ranging from cancer to tuberculosis.

Magnesium: Most people are deficient in magnesium, which is essential for many different enzymatic reactions in the body and for providing energy to your cells. Magnesium is also necessary for optimal nerve conduction. You can take magnesium in pill form—1,000 to 2,000 milligrams per day. Magnesium glycinate pills are very absorbable. You can also ingest this supplement in a drink. There are little packets of magnesium, called CALM, which you can put in water to drink. Quite delicious.

There are many others, of course, but this is a good baseline.

For additional articles from Dr. Northrup visit our page or find out additional information regarding her new book: Making Life Easy.

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