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What core supplements should I be taking?

Clients ask me frequently, "I know Life Time offers a lot of high quality supplements. But out of all the ones you offer, are there any specific supplements you think most people should be taking? 

People take supplements for a number of different reasons, including help with exercise performance, weight loss, stress relief or even sleep.

However, there are certain supplements that registered dietitians generally identify as essential products for most individuals. We call them core or foundational supplements because they contain nutrients often lacking in the standard American diet - nutrients that are absolutely necessary to maintain optimal health.

Below are the top five core supplements you should be taking every day - and why. Each one plays its own unique role in your body's functioning and overall well-being. See how your supplement protocol compares!


A multivitamin is a supplement beginner’s most essential product! 

Vitamins and minerals are absolutely essential to each metabolic process in our bodies, and if our bodies are lacking, it can lead to nutrient deficiencies that can cause ongoing metabolic dysfunction.

Vitamins and minerals are most readily found in our produce. However, most of us aren’t getting the recommended 11-13 servings each and every day. Not to mention, fruits and veggies don’t contain the vitamins and minerals they once did due to the ever-diluting topsoil in which they are grown along with the effects of other modern agricultural practices.

Also, if you're an active exerciser, under stress or on medication, you can assume your need for many vitamins and minerals is even higher. 

Omega 3s

Omega 3s are vital for how your body functions and feels overall. They dampen inflammation in the body as well as support your skin, nails and hair, eyes, and heart - just to name a few benefits!

Supplementing with omega 3s is necessary because we don’t consume foods high in them on a daily basis (e.g. grass-fed beef, walnuts and fatty fish). Likewise, we instead overconsume the pro-inflammatory fats - omega 6s and 9s (e.g. nuts, seeds, oils). 

Most individuals should start at 2,000mg of EPA/DHA each day.

Vitamin D

It’s been estimated that at least 75% of the current American population isn’t getting enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D acts more like a hormone in your body and has a key role in more than 400 metabolic processes in your body.

There are a number of reasons that our levels are lacking, including too little sun exposure (and too much SPF) as well as low intake of vitamin D rich foods.

The Vitamin D Council suggests taking 1,000 IU for every 25 pounds of body weight to maintain proper levels. The best rule of thumb is to test your Vitamin D level in your blood at least once per year to determine what the appropriate supplementation amount is for you.


The main purpose of probiotics is to maintain (or re-establish) good flora in your gut lining.

There are many influences that disrupt our good gut flora, including environmental toxins, highly processed and high-sugar diets, inflammatory foods and many medications. As a result, probiotics are an absolute need for nearly everyone for general health and immune function.

Seasonal allergies, irritable bowel, sinus infections and constipation are just a few of the common symptoms you might experience if the balance of your good to bad gut bacteria is unhealthy.  


Not many people have been directed to take magnesium, yet it's one of the top nutrient deficiencies in our population! 

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of reactions in your body, and it supports your nerve function and bone health. However, exercise, stress, a highly-processed diet and many medications can all deplete magnesium from our bodies.

If your levels are lacking, you might experience symptoms like muscle cramping, tennis elbow or restless legs.  Because magnesium is often stripped from foods due to our commercial food processing, it’s best to support through supplementation. I recommend most individuals get (at minimum) 500 mg per day.

As always, choose pharmaceutical-grade supplements to ensure you are benefiting from products that are free of fillers and full of high-quality, bioavailable nutrients. 

Would you like more information on how these and other supplements can support your health or performance goals? Talk with a registered dietitian today, and thanks for reading. 

In health, Anika Christ, RD, Senior Program Manager for Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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Reader Comments (4)

I don't know much about probiotics. Is it a pill? How do I find it amongst all the other supplements at Lifetime?

May 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather W

Hey Heather! We carry Douglas Laboratories "Multiprobiotic" that does come in a capsule form. It uses multiple strands of human probiotics (versus just a single strand that other supplements use) and I generally recommend taking at least 1 capsule with meals!

May 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnika DeCoster, RD

I take a probiotic developed by Dr. David Williams that comes in the form of a multi-layered bead. The concentric shells each dissolve at consecutive levels of the digestive system, releasing the right bacteria at the right place, all the way to delivering bacteria to the large intestine. Smart.

May 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I take Omega 3-6-9. i just read that we are taking in too many 6 & 9. What are the benefits of taking 3-6-9 vs only Omega 3's. I have a fairly balanced diet although, i admit i do tend to eat too many sweets on occasion. I get lots of veggies, nuts and a fair amount of salmon, talapia in my diet.

May 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer

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