Best Supplements & Product Recommendations
Great supplements are hard to find. And by great, we mean high quality, absorbable, and those that actually make a difference for long-term health and wellbeing.
Almost everyone in modern America is deficient in something, and many are deficient in numerous important micronutrients. The soil our food is grown in is depleted of nutrients, diets are not optimal, and some of us have genetic quirks that make personalized supplementation a must.
Choosing the right supplement for you is even more complicated because they are not effectively regulated by the FDA. However, here at HealthAnchor, we take supplements and their health mission seriously. Below, we only recommend products that have passed our rigorous methodology in quality, safety, formulation, and effectiveness.
Choose a vitamin or mineral you’d like to see recommendations for:
All of our recommended products pass a stringent methodology for selection. We strive to bring you the best quality and most effective supplements on the market. We are brand-agnostic in our recommendations and have no relationships with manufacturers.
Studies show that many people in the US are getting insufficient amounts of the mineral magnesium from their diets alone. Additional risk factors include Type 1 or 2 diabetes, exercising, stress, getting older, coffee and alcohol consumption. Magnesium is a mineral that is critical for health and well-being. If you’re choosing to take a magnesium supplement, try to avoid it in the form of magnesium oxide as it’s poorly absorbed. We recommend looking for magnesium glycinate or citrate instead. Note that some people may have a negative digestive reaction to the citrate form. Make sure you’re getting enough magnesium if you’re taking vitamin D as magnesium helps with proper vitamin D processing and storage by the body.
Below are our favorite products for a great magnesium supplement:
Digestive enzymes are important for proper food digestion and processing of nutrients. Lack of a certain enzyme in the digestive system can lead to food intolerances and digestive disorders. Those with food sensitivities and frequent digestive distress should be tested for a digestive enzyme deficiency. Almost everyone can be helped by extra enzymes when eating hard-to-digest foods such as beans and cruciferous vegetables. It’s important that if you do decide to take a digestive supplement, that it has a proper enteric coating; otherwise it will be digested in the stomach and will not reach the intestines where it can actually be helpful.
Here are our favorite products for a great digestive enzyme supplement:
B vitamins are necessary for proper energy metabolism and a healthy nervous system, including brain function. They are water-soluble and need to be replenished often as they are a common byproduct of urine and are not stored by the body. There are 8 main B vitamins that comprise a B vitamin complex – they are often taken together as they work better together. Many people have a naturally low absorption of an important b vitamin: folate. For this reason, if supplementing, it’s best to make sure to get this nutrient in it’s best-absorbed form: methylfolate.
Below are our favorite B complex products:
Probiotics live in the body’s microbiome and we are just beginning to understand how important the composition of the microbiome is to the body’s function. Researchers have found that the body’s microbiome is responsible for not only proper immune function, but also hormone regulation, nervous system control, and defense against many illnesses. Live-cultures in foods and probiotic supplements help support a healthy microbiome. Both of these are especially important when the microbiome has been compromised, due to suboptimal diet, antibiotic therapy, or other drugs.
When choosing a probiotic supplement, make sure the bottle or box clearly says “Viable through end of shelf life.” Coated capsules are more likely to be effective than pressed pills. If possible, the bottle should clearly identify not just the genus and species but also the strain of bacteria inside. For general support, look for at least 7 strains and at least 5 billion colony forming units (CFUs).
Below are our favorite probiotic supplement products that have passed our high selection bar:
Vitamin D is a key nutrient and a crucial component of many body’s health processes. It helps to maintain and support strong bones, is involved in supporting the immune system, prevents depression, and supports the nervous system. Your body can generate vitamin D from sun exposure; however, with sun damage being cumulative throughout our ever longer lifespans, it might be a good idea to get it from a supplement and wear sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks vitamin D generation in the skin from sun exposure, but even without it, data indicates modern Americans don’t get enough sun for sufficient D levels. As you age, your natural production capacity also decreases. Studies show that people with levels of 40 – 60 ng/mL have the best long-term health outcomes. Research has indicated that more than 70% of the US population has insufficient vitamin D levels, and many more are below the 40 – 60 range.
If you are going to supplement vitamin D, make sure to take it with food that contains fat (since it’s fat soluble) and pair it with a great magnesium and vitamin K supplement at the same time (or foods rich in those nutrients) for proper processing and absorption. The recommended daily value guidance has been recently updated and the previous guidance has been deemed to be insufficient. Our recommendation is to start with 5,000 IU per day and get a blood test to check your levels in a few months. You can also take a higher dose (25,000 – 50,000 IU) less often, say once a week or a month, to get the same results as Vitamin D is stored in fat in the body. Don’t take high doses like this every day, even if you are severely deficient as it can lead to vitamin D toxicity.
Below are our recommended vitamin D products:
Calcium is an important mineral in the body as it supports strong bones and teeth. Sufficient calcium is also important to maintain blood homeostasis and ensure proper function of the heart, nerves, muscles, and hormones. Calcium supplements may be recommended to people on a calcium-restricting diet (such as vegetarianism and veganism), and older women, who are at particular risk of deficiency. If you are unsure if you should be taking it, ask your doctor. Having too much calcium in your system if you are getting sufficient amounts from food can lead to hypercalcemia. Furthermore certain medications can interact negatively with calcium supplements.
If you have been advised by your doctor to take a calcium supplement, here are our recommended products:
Multivitamins have come under attack in the recent years. After thoroughly researching the subject, we noticed that most of the multivitamins on the market are of poor quality, have low absorption, or are not safe in the amounts of nutrients they provide, either being too high or too low. Many contain the wrong forms of vital nutrients that lead to a false sense of security. A great multivitamin can make a difference for long-term health support, especially given the stresses of modern life and diet.
We are very particular about which multivitamins we feel comfortable recommending. In general, try to find a product that contains vitamin A as beta carotene (not retinol), D3 for vitamin D, d-alpha tocopheryl for vitamin E (if it’s included at all), methylfolate rather than folate, cobalamin, avoid sodium selenite, avoid magnesium oxide, and avoid iron. Stay away from multivitamins that contain calcium as that should likely be taken separately. Watch out especially for those that are too high in vitamins A and E as that can lead to toxicity, especially when taken long term.
Here are our recommended multivitamin supplements:
Most people don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids from diet, especially exclusively those that only exist in marine sources: DHA and EPA. DHA and EPA are both critical for optimal brain and heart function, and they prevent inflammation and a host of illnesses. DHA and ALA are especially important as part of a prenatal regimen.
Currently, we have 3 possible sources of these vital fatty acids: fish oil, krill oil, and algae oil. Here are the main differences:
– Fish oil is concentrated and filtered. You get both DHA and EPA when you take it. Quality is super important and most brands on the market sell a suboptimal ethyl ester form which goes rancid very quickly and isn’t well absorbed. A high quality, reputable triglyceride-form fish oil is an excellent way to get your omega 3 fatty acids via supplementation. Store your fish oil in the fridge for best results. Here are our fish oil product recommendations. Read more about fish oil.
– Krill oil is another excellent way to get omega 3s and has the added benefit of containing astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant. It’s not concentrated however, so if you’re looking to do a therapeutic dose of DHA and EPA, fish oil may be a better choice. For prevention and maintenance, it’s a great choice. It is room temperature stable and in fact, you should not keep it in the fridge. Here are our recommended krill oil products. Read more about krill oil.
– Algal or algae oil is the relative newcomer on the market. It is an excellent omega 3 supplement for strict vegans and those with seafood allergies. It is an excellent source of DHA and a poorer source of EPA, relative to fish and krill oil. If you do chose algae oil, make sure to store it in the fridge. Here are our recommended algal oil products. Read more about algae oil.
If you’re on the fence about which one to take and don’t have dietary restrictions, we recommend alternating a high quality fish oil and a great krill oil. This way you get both the health benefits of higher levels of DHA and EPA as well as the added health benefits of astaxanthin.
Below are our overall recommended omega 3 products:
Fish oil is concentrated and filtered. It’s currently the best source of omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, especially at higher therapeutic doses. Quality is super important and most brands on the market sell a suboptimal ethyl ester form which goes rancid very quickly and isn’t well absorbed. A high quality, reputable trygliceride-form fish oil is an excellent way to get your omega 3 fatty acids via supplementation. Store your fish oil in the fridge for best results and take it with a meal that contains fat for best absorption. It is safe to take up to 2,000 mg per day long term. Consult with a doctor if you want to take a higher dose.
Here are our recommended products for a great fish oil supplement:
Krill oil is a fantastic way to supplement your diet with omega 3 fatty acids. It is a good source of both DHA and EPA fatty acids that are vital for long-term good health. Due to the its chemical nature, krill oil is not concentrated like fish oil is so the amounts of both DHA and EPA tend to be lower. However, it has the benefit of being an excellent source of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant with a host of health benefits in its own right.
Below are our recommended products for a great krill oil supplement:
People who are vegetarian, vegan, or have seafood allergies, are especially at risk of deficiency in the crucial omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. DHA and EPA are crucial for proper brain and body function and are necessary for long term good health. These omega-3s are important for maintaining a healthy brain and cardiovascular system, reducing inflammation, cutting the risk of a heart attack, lowering the blood pressure, and many other important physiological functions. All else being equal, people who get enough omega-3s (specifically DHA and EPA) tend to have better long-term health and get fewer diseases over time.
Thankfully, algal oil is a great new option for consuming high amounts of DHA and some EPA for vegetarians, vegans, and people with seafood allergies. Algal oil is extracted from algae that is raised in a contained environment so there is no risk of contamination from pollutants in sea water. Algal oil provides a concentrated dose of DHA, higher than that of fish oil. It also provides a small amount of EPA, which is also a crucial nutrient.
Note that if you are not allergic to seafood, a high quality fish oil is still your best bet for consuming omega-3s. It is higher in EPA than algal oil and much better researched.
Below are our recommended products for a great algal oil supplement:
CoQ10 is a nutrient that is highly involved in the body’s energy production metabolism and protects cells from oxidative stress. The best dietary sources of CoQ10 are meat, oily fish, and organ meats and many people don’t get sufficient amount from diet alone. Certain drugs, such as statins, tend to decrease the body’s CoQ10 levels even further. If you’re unsure if you should be taking a CoQ10 supplement, check with your doctor.
Here are our recommended CoQ10 products:
As people age, they typically experience more aches and pains. Some of this discomfort may be caused by the body producing less glucosamine, a naturally-occurring amino sugar. Glucosamine helps to lubricate joints and maintain healthy cartilage; it is especially beneficial for people with osteoarthritis. This form of arthritis involves the deterioration of the cartilage that cushions joints, such as the knees. If you are tired of dealing with painful symptoms, such as joint stiffness, that are commonly associated with osteoarthritis, you may want to take a glucosamine supplement.
Significant amounts of glucosamine are not naturally found in any food sources, although there may be trace amounts of glucosamine in shellfish and meat, particularly offal. Research shows that the most effective glucosamine supplements also contain chondroitin sulfate, a complex sugar that is an important component of cartilage. It is recommended that individuals with osteoarthritis take 500mg of glucosamine three times a day for up to three months or 1,500mg once a day for up to six months. Check with your doctor if you want to take it for longer than that – it’s been documented that taking glucosamine supplements for longer than 3 years may cause liver damage. Your doctor may want to make sure your liver is responding well to the supplement and that it will not cause future health problems.
Since many glucosamine supplements are derived from the shells of crab and shrimp, people with shellfish sensitivities and allergies should not take them.
Below are our recommended products for joint support:
Curcumin, derived from the spice turmeric, has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits when taken as a supplement. It is not very bioavailable in its natural form and different companies have tried different ways to increase its absorption. Black pepper extracts are added to many products on the market but they are a popular irritant. Other formulations, such as Meriva, tend to be better tolerated and more effective.
If you have decided to try a curcumin supplement, we recommend looking closely at the concentration reported on the label – you want to maximize the active curcuminoids per serving. Labels that don’t contain this information are a red flag. Look for the Meriva or Theracurmin formulations on the bottle – these formulations have better absorption than others and have been used in research trials. Take your supplement with a meal containing fat. Select a high quality brand that has a high enough active curcuminoids concentration – you’ll want 500 mg or more per serving to experience the best results.
If you’re taking prescription drugs, check with your doctor about possible interactions.
Below are our curcumin supplement recommendations:
Melatonin is known as “the sleep hormone”. It is crucial in supporting and regulating healthy circadian rhythms, tiredness, and plays an important role in the immune system. Supplemental melatonin has been shown to be one of the safest and best sleep aids, especially when used short term. Lower doses actually tend to work better than higher dose melatonin supplements. Many supplements are sold at much higher dose than necessary, however, as a consequence of the lower dose being patented when it was first proven to be highly effective at regulating sleep patterns. The patented dose, which is off-patent now and widely available, is only a third of a mg, or 300 mcg. We recommend starting with this dose and going from there. A lot of people report that melatonin does not work for them because they are taking a dose that’s much too high (1 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg).
Below are recommended melatonin supplement products:
Prenatal supplements are important for a growing fetus to develop optimally and so that the mother does not herself get drained of nutrients that damage her long-term health. The growing baby draws everything it needs from the mother, even at the expense of her health. A great prenatal multivitamin, combined with a omega-3 supplement such as a high quality fish oil, prevents this from happening.
Prenatal products tend to want to do it all, but you may actually be better off taking the necessary nutrients separately. For example, it’s best to take an omega 3 supplement separately from the rest to ensure the best quality. See here for our recommended omega 3 supplements.
Some women tend to get nauseous when taking iron as part of a prenatal multi and you may want to experiment with taking it alone before bed if that happens to you. Iron is also poorly absorbed if taken at the same time as whole grains, bread, legumes, tea and coffee. It is important to get enough iron throughout your pregnancy for a better health outcome; women tend to be iron deficient in general, and the needs are even higher during a healthy pregnancy.
Prescription prenatals are not necessarily of higher quality or more complete than regular multivitamins you can get online or at the store. It’s important to look for a product that has been specially formulated for pregnancy nutrient needs, and one that does not contain retinol which could be harmful. If your doctor recommends that your prenatal include calcium, make sure you’re taking calcium and iron at different times so they don’t interfere with absorption.
Vitamin K, in the form of K1 and K2, are important nutrients. K1 is absorbed from many common foods, including green vegetables. K2 is manufactured by the body in the gut. However, some things can interfere with this process, such as antibiotics and other drugs. Vitamin K is crucial for proper calcium processing, Vitamin D processing, bone health, maintaining arterial flexibility, and general cardiovascular health.
Below are our recommended vitamin K supplement products:
Zinc is an essential mineral mainly found in meat and seafood. It’s been shown to shorten the duration of colds and other infections due to its crucial role in the immune system. Signs of deficiency or insufficiency of this mineral can include rough skin, hair loss, poor wound healing, and mental lethargy.
If choosing to take a zinc supplement, be aware of taking too much. Also be aware that many cold lozenges and other anti-cold products contain zinc and using too many at once can lead to stomach issues. Zinc also interacts negatively with calcium and iron so make sure to not take them, as supplements or otherwise, at the same time.
Below are our recommended zinc supplement products: