Supplements for Optimal Health and Well-Being

November 21, 2023

Interest in improving health and well-being isn’t a novel concept. Stores began stocking multivitamins and mineral supplements in the 1940s, and the public has yet to slow its pursuit of achieving peak physical condition. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) spanning from 2017 to 2020, over half of adults (58.8%) and more than one-third of children (34.8%) reported taking at least one supplement in the past 30 days, with multivitamins, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids being the most common.

Attaining optimal health and well-being is a unique undertaking that varies by a person’s specific nutrition and health profile. Regardless, several supplements can help individuals take a holistic approach to supporting their overall health and wellness. These include:

Multivitamins and Minerals

A good-quality multivitamin can help ensure you get essential vitamins and minerals that may be lacking in your diet. They are also a convenient method to meet your general nutritional needs.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil or algae supplements are important for heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is critical for immune function and bone health. Unfortunately, many people have low vitamin D levels, especially if they have limited sun exposure or consistently wear sunscreen.


Calcium is also essential for bone health, and those who don't consume enough dairy or other calcium-rich foods may need calcium supplements to meet their needs. Menopausal and post-menopausal women also need more calcium, as they no longer produce as much estrogen. Estrogen is crucial for promoting bone formation and inhibiting bone resorption. As estrogen levels drop, bone density loss gradually increases.


Magnesium participates in more than 600 biochemical reactions in the body, including energy production, activating vitamin D, and muscle function. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 75% of adult Americans don’t consume enough magnesium through diet alone. Low magnesium can impair vitamin D metabolism, which may weaken bones. It can also cause fatigue and muscle cramps.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Known for its immune-boosting properties, vitamin C also supports skin health and collagen production. It’s a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, stimulates white blood cell production, and enhances immune cell function.

B Vitamins

B vitamins serve numerous important roles, including energy production, red blood cell formation, and nerve function. Each has distinct purposes, but they often work together to support health and well-being.

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) helps convert carbohydrates into energy and is necessary for nerve function. It may also support immune function, as it increases the body’s ability to cope with situational and environmental stress.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) helps produce energy, metabolize fats, scavenge free radicals, and activate immune system defenses.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) helps metabolize food into energy and repair DNA. It’s also an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that promote skin health.
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) is essential for synthesizing fatty acids and metabolizing carbohydrates and proteins. It also supports skin health by reducing inflammation, retaining moisture, and promoting wound healing.
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is necessary for amino acid metabolism, red blood cell formation, and neurotransmitter synthesis. It may also provide morning sickness relief during pregnancy.
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin) helps the body convert carbs, fat, proteins, amino acids, and glucose into energy. It also helps the body synthesize the myelin sheaths that protect nerves. Additionally, it helps synthesize keratin proteins that are structural components of the skin, hair, and nails.
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid) is essential for DNA synthesis, new cell formation, cognitive health, and red blood cell production. Its importance increases notably during pregnancy, as it’s necessary for fetal development.
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) is vital for DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and neurological function. Like the other B vitamins, it also plays a role in energy production.


Zinc is a crucial mineral for immune function, wound healing, and synthesizing DNA. It may also improve skin health and the appearance of acne by reducing skin inflammation, expediting lesion healing, and protecting skin from oxidative stress.

Who Should Consider Health Supplements?

Supplements are an effective tool to achieve optimal health and well-being when paired with a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, and other healthy lifestyle practices. However, several factors influence nutritional needs, such as age, gender, lifestyle, diet, and overall health. While many people can obtain essential nutrients from a well-balanced diet, certain groups may benefit from taking health supplements to fill nutritional gaps or address specific health concerns.

For example:

  • Individuals following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle tend to need vitamins and mineral supplements to get the nutrients they no longer consume through meat, such as B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron.
  • Older adults often take dietary supplements to avoid nutritional deficiencies, as hormonal changes and aging can make it more difficult to absorb vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, etc.
  • Athletes and highly active individuals could also benefit from dietary supplements, as their increased exertion levels alter their nutritional needs.
  • People with little sunlight exposure, such as those living in northern latitudes, shift workers, and office workers, may require vitamin D supplements. The body needs sunlight to synthesize this vitamin. Consistent sunscreen use, while a good practice, can also inhibit vitamin D synthesis. Having darker skin tones is another factor that affects vitamin D production, as higher melanin levels can act as a natural sunscreen.
  • Bariatric patients, individuals with conditions that affect nutrient absorption, or those with food allergies or intolerances may need dietary supplements, too.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals require additional nutrients to support their baby’s health and development while meeting their own vitamin and mineral needs.
  • Good health is one of life's most valuable gifts. However, maintaining it is much easier than restoring it once it’s lost. Consuming nutrient-rich foods is a critical element of long-term health and well-being, but no diet is perfect. Supplements can complement healthy lifestyle habits to help ensure optimal wellness. Individuals taking medications or with preexisting conditions should consult a physician before taking any new supplements to avoid unwanted interactions.

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