By Steven Ashton

Vitamin and mineral (micronutrient) supplementation has been well researched for decades and it has been proven many times over that supplementation is beneficial to humans. Remember, the RDA amounts are just bare minimums recommended to keep you from getting severe health consequences.

Why not use science to your advantage and elevate your physical and mental function by using supplements. I’m talking natural, whole foods derived supplements. These can provide some insurance against the lack of some nutrients in your food supply.

It is now well known in the nutrition world that the soil is and has been depleted, rendering the food that is grown in it less nutritious than it could be or has been. Add the fact that each day we deplete our nutrient storage and require additional nutrients to compensate for the normal stresses that occur.

One does not have to take a whole vitamin store worth of supplements to maintain reasonable health. Sure you can get a lot of good nutritional value by eating a quality diet but adding a few key supplemental nutrients to your nutritional regimen can elevate your body’s function.

The three must take supplements: It depends….do you regularly eat fatty cold water fish? Do you get regular sun exposure? How old are you? Do you live a highly stressed lifestyle?

There are many factors that could determine what three supplements to take. Luckily we are not actually limited to three. I personally take many more than three supplements per day.

I will list my top three “go to” supplement supply and the reasons for it. Although, if I were to take three supplements to a deserted island it would probably be different than the list I would put together for a modern living situation. These choices are based on a healthy person that has no gut issues.  They are also based on the most commonly deficient micronutrients in the US. (CDC, 2012 report). These choices are also assuming you are not taking a multivitamin.

  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) 1,000 IU
  • Magnesium(magnesium carbonate)– At least 400 mg/day and eat plenty of green chlorophyll containing vegetables (magnesium is at the center of the chlorophyll molecule)
  • Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) 1,000-1,500 mg/day

Why Vitamin D3?

Vitamin D is so important that it controls the expression of over 1000 different genes in the human body. Vitamin D3 is naturally found in only a few foods, such as fish-liver oils, fatty fishes like sardines, herring, anchovies, mushrooms, egg yolks, and liver. In the United States, vitamin D2 is commonly added to milk and other foods but is the synthetic form and may not necessarily be absorbed.

Most people don’t get enough sunlight to naturally manufacture vitamin D on their own.

For optimal vitamin D levels, it is recommended to get 15-20 minutes full sun exposure each day and more if darker skinned.

Why Magnesium?

An essential mineral that is used in over 300 biological processes.

Widespread deficiencies are mostly due to consuming nutrient poor processed foods and alcohol and not eating enough leafy green vegetables.

The current RDA is 400 mg/day. This is the bare minimum and not necessarily enough to provide optimum levels to ensure maximum function. Most people only get 200-300 mg/day.

Why Fish Oil?

Since it appears that we consume far too many omega 6’s mostly from vegetable oils, we need to get that ratio of 6/3 lower. If you don’t want to take a fish oil supplement, eat more oily fish, grass fed butter, walnuts, chia & flax seeds. The most bioavailable and hence, beneficial form of omega-3 comes from fish and krill.

Yes, that picture in this article is the fish oil supplement I take and contains 1000 IU vitamin D3, so bonus, you get two of the the top three micros in one. This brand contains 3,244 mg omega 3 (2,071 mg/EPA and 1,173 mg/DHA) in triglyceride form. This product also contains vitamin E. There are other fine fish oil, cod liver oil and krill oil products on the market and one could get overwhelmed shopping for them. Look for the purest forms containing the highest amounts of total omega 3’s and not total milligrams of fish oil. Stronger, Faster, Healthier brand fish oil is available at

Honorable mention

Grass fed whey protein

Whole foods multivitamin (should contain 400 mg magnesium and 1000 IU D3)

Probiotics-  Combination of acidophilus and bifidus


I believe that at a minimum, a good whole foods multi should be taken daily. It is not possible to get the bare minimum requirements of vitamins and minerals in a modern diet. Although the absolute best way to get your micros is through the intake of naturally occuring whole foods, high quality supplements should be added to maximize your function.


Calton, Mira and Jason (2012). Micronutrients and Lifestyle Medicine, Calton Institute of Lifestyle Medicine

Bauman, E. (2015). Therapeutic Nutrition Textbook, NC203. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College.

Murray, Michael, Pizzorno, Joseph (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Atria Books, New York. -3 mechanisms for magnesium deficiency

Recommended vitamins for men (Dr Axe)

Recommended vitamins for women (Dr Axe)