4 Must Have Supplements

By Michael A. Smith, MD 

Enhancing your diet with nutritional supplements will get you closer to optimal health then diet and exercise alone.

Now as a reader of this blog, there's a good chance that you already agree. But why, exactly, is this the case?

Because the food we eat, even if fresh and organic, does not have the same nutritional value as it used to.

Simply put, the American soil is sick and is producing nutrient poor food.

Supplement With an Ideally Dosed Multivitamin

The very first and most essential supplement is an ideally dosed daily multivitamin. I once asked a friend of mine if he took a multivitamin. His response was, “Vitamins and minerals are so passé. I want to take the latest innovations and something more powerful.”

 Don’t be like my friend. Never think of the basic vitamins and minerals as outdated and not “powerful.” From vitamin A to the mineral zinc, your body is totally dependent on these nutrients for optimal health. And I promise you this: You can always live without the latest Amazonian herb that claims to cure everything, but you can never live without vitamins and minerals.

By the way, a multivitamin is usually a lot cheaper than herbal and plant extracts! I can’t stress enough, though, that not all multivitamins are the same. There are your basic, bare-bones multivitamins that provide minimal doses of some essential nutrients. And then there are your robust multivitamins that deliver ideal doses of a full spectrum of essential nutrients.

What is the main difference between these multiples? Dosage. The first type is based on the government’s “recommended dietary allowance,” or RDA, and the second reflects what I call the “ideal daily intake,” or IDI.

What if, instead of RDAs, we promoted IDIs—science based ideal daily intakes of vitamins and minerals that far exceed expectations set forth by the U.S. government because they are all about optimizing health.

Dosing vitamins and minerals at this level goes way beyond protection against deficiencies. It enters the world of optimizing energy levels, hormonal balance, cardiovascular wellness, bone strength, digestive ease, visual acuity, cognitive agility, emotional stability, and joint integrity.

Supplement With Healthy Oils like Omega-3s

The second essential supplement is a high-quality omega-3 fatty acid product. Chances are, you’ve heard of omega-3 fatty acids, because they’ve had their fair share of media exposure lately.

In the simplest terms, omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats. They’re sometimes called “essential fatty acids” because, quite simply, they are essential to health—you can’t live without them. Yet your body can’t make them. So you either have to get them through your diet or through supplementation. 

An abundance of scientific research substantiates the wide-ranging health benefits of omega-3 fats. Some of these benefits include:

  • Supporting mental health 1 
  • Promoting cognitive agility 2 
  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks 3 
  • Lowering systemic inflammation 4 
The last one on the list, lowering inflammation, is more important than you might realize. I firmly believe—and I’m not alone in this—that inflammation is the common denominator of all age-related diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Lowering levels of chronic, low-grade inflammation in your body is probably the single most important thing you can do to promote optimal health.

Supplement with Ubiquinol CoQ10

The third essential supplement is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), in the ubiquinol (not ubiquinone) form. This one supplement can make such a big difference in your health and well-being that I think every single American adult could benefit from taking it.

What the heck is a coenzyme? Well, “co” means “with” or “together.” And enzymes catalyze all the chemical reactions in your body that sustain life. So coenzymes work together with enzymes to keep you alive.

Coenzyme Q10 specifically works with enzymes inside the mitochondria of your cells to produce energy in the form of ATP—energy your cells need to function. If your CoQ10 levels are low, you won’t just feel tired and drained. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body will suffer because they’re all powered by ATP.

CoQ10 is most well-known for promoting cardiovascular health. And that makes sense when you think about it, because your heart demands more energy than almost any other organ in your body. But CoQ10 has other benefits too. Scores of human clinical trials have shown that CoQ10:

  • Is helpful in multiple heart conditions 5 
  • May slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease 6 
  • Helps control blood sugar in diabetics 7 
  • Increases feelings of vigor in healthy folks 8 
CoQ10 is naturally produced in the body, but as you get older, you make less of it. Tissue samples have revealed that CoQ10 levels tend to peak at around age twenty and then continuously decrease with age.9 So, as you can see …CoQ10 is essential!

Probiotic Supplements Replace Healthy Gut Bacteria

The fourth and final essential supplement is a probiotic product. Think about it: Your survival is dependent on your gut’s ability to extract protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals from your food.

When your gut health is compromised, it doesn’t matter how healthy a diet you eat—you won’t be able to access all the nutrition it provides. Not only that, a good portion of your immune system— about 70 percent—is actually located within your GI tract.10

Here’s my point: The makeup of bacteria in your gut influences how well your gut and immune system work. The more healthy bacteria you have, the stronger your immune system and the more efficient your digestive system.

To begin, avoid things that can lower your levels of beneficial bacteria—and make room for the bad guys to multiply—like excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, and eating a typical, toxin-heavy, nutrient-poor American diet.

After that, you’ll have to replace the good bacteria you’ve lost over the years by taking a probiotic product. I suggest a product providing lactobacillus and bifidobacteria with at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFU).

The Bottom Line

Health, first and foremost, begins with a high-quality, ideally dosed multivitamin. Working up, add omega-3 fatty acids, ubiquinol CoQ10, and then probiotics.

These four essential supplements are foundational to your health as they help every cell and tissue throughout your body.

If you’d like to more about them and how they can fit into a personalized and prioritized nutritional regimen, visit www.MySupplementPyramid.com.


  1. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2003 Aug;13(4):267–71. 
  2. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr; 85(4): 1142–7. 
  3. Lancet. 2007 Mar 31; 369(9567):1090–8. 
  4. Life Sciences. 2006; 78(21):2523-6. 
  5. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb; 97(2):268–75. 
  6. Arch Neurol. 2002;59:1541–1550. 
  7. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002;56:1137–1142.  
  8. Human Hypertens. 1999;13:203–208. 
  9. Lipids. 1989 Jul;24(7):579–84. 
  10. Am J Physiol. 1999 Nov;277(5 Pt 1):G922–8.

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Can You Pass the Longevity Test?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

No one can predict with certainty how long you’ll live, but there are certain factors that may provide an indication.

In fact, your ability to smell may actually give a hint, according to the results of a new study.

Researchers found that older people with an impaired sense of smell were more likely to die within a five-year period.

The results were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Longevity Linked to Sense of Smell

Scientists conducted a test on 3,005 participants between the ages of 57 and 85. They were asked to identify five different scents.

The subjects who had an impaired sense of smell were four times more likely to die within a certain period of time than those whose sense of smell functioned normally.

Having a poor sense of smell was a stronger risk factor for death than heart failure, lung disease, and cancer.1

Although having a healthy sense of smell isn’t fundamental to survival, lacking one has been linked to other health problems including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It has also been associated with telomere-shortening, a marker for aging.1

Longevity Linked to Standing Up

Apart from the olfactory test, other tests may provide clues about one’s longevity.

A study published in 2012 found that older people who were able to stand up easily from a sitting position on the floor lived longer within a six-year period. And those who had the most difficulty were 5-6 times more likely to die.2

Other tests measuring hand grip strength, walking speed, and balance provide further clues. While these studies have their limitations, they emphasize the importance of physical fitness.

General Longevity Tips

We can’t control all of the circumstances that impact our life span, but we can do something about our lifestyle choices. There are certain habits that can add or take away from your years. The following habits are linked to longevity:

In addition to living a healthy lifestyle, you can boost your natural defenses against aging with supplementation. Reducing oxidative stress and inflammation may help to prevent disease. Take special note of these anti-aging nutrients:

  • CoQ10 
  • PQQ  
  • Fish oil 
  • Resveratrol 
  • Curcumin 
  • Vitamin D 
  • L-carnitine 
  • Green tea


  1. Available at: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0107541. Accessed October 2, 2014. 
  2. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2012 Dec 13;21(7):892-898.

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Resveratrol: The Antidote to Aging?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

When Ponce de Leon sailed to the New World, his goal was to find the Fountain of Youth. He stumbled upon Florida and its supposed healing waters, but he never found exactly what he was looking for … or so the myth claims.

Fast forward hundreds of years and the search continues, but this time, we might actually be close to “finding it.”

In fact, resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes, berries and peanuts, may be what we’ve been looking for all along. Another new study emphasizes the impressive anti-aging effects of resveratrol.

Resveratrol Stimulates Growth of New Mitochondria

The purpose of the study was to examine if resveratrol could ameliorate the damaging effects of a high fat diet. High fat diets are known to increase levels of oxidative stress, inflammation, and produce mitochondrial dysfunction.

Mice were given a high fat diet with or without resveratrol for a period of 20 weeks, and their T cell function (immune regulating cells) was evaluated.

Mice given resveratrol showed higher levels of T cells. In addition, resveratrol stimulated the growth of new mitochondria and restored mitochondrial function in these cells,1 demonstrating resveratrol’s anti-aging potential.

Apart from PQQ and branched chain amino acids, few nutrients can actually stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis (the growth of new mitochondria), which makes this finding even more exciting.

The Mitochondrial Theory of Aging

Mitochondria are cellular structures that create energy from the food we eat. This energy in the form of ATP runs every process the body needs to stay young and healthy.

As we age, free radicals destroy our mitochondria, leaving us susceptible to the effects of disease and aging.

Resveratrol presents a unique opportunity for longevity. By stimulating mitochondrial biogenesis, cells can live longer. Cells age in proportion to the quantity and state of their mitochondria.

The Bottom Line

It turns out the "Fountain is Youth" is not located anywhere on earth, but is actually present in the foods that we eat. Through nutrition — or even supplementation — we may be able to prolong or decrease our life span.


1. J Food Sci. 2014 Sep;79(9):H1823-31.

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Lithium, The Longevity Mineral?

Lithium is best known for its role in treating bipolar disorder, but there are other health benefits to this mineral that are frequently overlooked.

Lithium is found in all living organisms. Grains, vegetables, and drinking water (depending upon the area one lives in) are all good sources.

Its name comes from the Greek word lithos, meaning stone. 

Although it had not been previously considered essential to health, some experts propose taking 1,000 micrograms of lithium daily, according to the current evidence.1

Lithium Offers Unexpected Health Benefits

An experimental study involving rats found that lithium reduced ischemia-reperfusion injury (the damage that occurs when blood returns to tissues that had been deprived of oxygen), a finding that could have implications for humans.2

The chloride salt of this trace element also shows promise for the treatment of osteoarthritis.3 However, its most significant benefit could be something even more impressive — extending life.

Lithium May Extend Life

In the August 2011 issue of the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers found an association between higher lithium levels in drinking water and a lower rate of death in Japan.4

The team then exposed roundworms to lithium to comparable levels of lithium chloride and also observed a longer life span.

Pretty interesting, to say the least.

Lithium Improves Mood and May Support ALS

As well as possibly making life longer, lithium could make life more…livable. Another Japanese study found an association between higher lithium water levels and a reduction in the suicide rate of females.

A similar association was revealed in a study conducted in Greece and published in 2013.6 The Greek researchers found that lithium may also have therapeutic benefits in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease whose "ice bucket challenge" has recently brought it into the spotlight.

Lithium Improves Human Behavior

Lithium at lower doses seems to have a beneficial effect on human behavior.

Higher lithium drinking water levels have been associated with a decrease in the rates of homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, and even drug abuse.7

How to Get More Lithium

Note that the amount of lithium prescribed to individuals with bipolar disorder is significantly higher than what is obtained through diet alone.

However, healthy people may very well benefit from lower amounts. Low dose lithium is actually available as a stand-alone supplement or in trace mineral formulations.


  1. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Feb;21(1):14-21. 
  2. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2014 Sep;7(9):744-8. 
  3. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2014 May;66(5):1228-36.
  4. Eur J Nutr. 2011 Aug;50(5):387-9 
  5. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Nov 12;10(11):6044-8. 
  6. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2013 Dec;156(1-3):376-9. 
  7. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1990 May;25(2):105-13.

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The Case for Supplements

Michael A. Smith, MD

It’s true that we should be getting essential nutrients from food. An organic-based diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables should be enough to keep us healthy. But it’s not.

Relying solely on food may keep you from developing vitamin deficiencies, but a dietary approach alone is not going to come close to optimizing your health.

Let’s look at some of the reasons we believe supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals is absolutely necessary in this day and age.

Poor Soil Conditions

Dr. Bernard Jensenwas a world renowned clinical nutritionist once said that a tomato today is not the same tomato a hundred years ago. He was referring to the poor conditions of our soils.

The first US soil surveys were completed in the 1920s and concluded that our soils were depleted of key nutrients like nitrates and carbonates.

These soil nutrients are necessary for the growth of healthy crops and ultimately nutrient dense food. That was in the 1920s!

You might wonder what’s been done since then to improve the conditions of our soils. Well, not much. In the 1930s and 40s, following the Great Dust Bowl, farmers planted soy to reinvigorate top soil. That helped to some degree, but not to the degree needed.

Since then, farmers have had to incorporate chemicals into the soil to rapidly improve growth potential. This might help to grow crops, but not necessarily healthy crops. So now you’re left thinking that eating only organically grown fruits and vegetables is the way to go.

Although we believe that would be a healthier choice in terms of pesticides, it doesn’t ensure that you’re eating nutrient rich food.

Keep in mind…organic soil is just as depleted of nutrients as chemically treated soil. Bottom line: poor soils produce poor crops and poor crops produce nutrient depleted food.

Today’s Toxic Deluge

We live in a toxic environment. Chemical toxins from the air, water and soil create a destructive oxidative environment inside of us.

Most of the environmental toxins are highly reactive oxygen molecules that build-up overtime creating what’s called oxidative stress.

As a matter of fact, oxidative stress is one of the leading theories of aging. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress.

Our bodies intrinsically synthesize some antioxidants, but most of them come from dietary sources, like dark colored fruits and vegetables. But once again, this brings us back to the conditions of our soils.

Can we rely solely on dietary sources of antioxidants given the fact that crops around the world are producing nutrient poor foods? So, what can we do? How can we increase our intake of antioxidants?

The answer is simple: supplements. A high quality antioxidant formula can offer protection against our toxic environment – something food alone cannot provide.

Ideal Nutrient Dosing

The recommended daily allowance or RDA for vitamin C is 75 to 100 mg a day. This is just enough vitamin C to keep you from developing scurvy – a skin condition resulting from a vitamin C deficiency.

But here’s our point: Vitamin C can do so much more than just prevent scurvy. By reaching an ideal daily dose of 500 mg, vitamin C becomes a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system, supports the cardiovascular system and optimizes overall health.

Now let’s say you’re not interested in supplements. That means you need to reach the optimal dose from food only. Here are some common food sources and the amount of vitamin C per serving:

  • Papaya – 70 mg
  • Kiwi – 70 mg
  • Green peppers – 65 mg
  • Citrus Fruit – 35-60 mg
  • Strawberries – 49 mg
  • Blueberries – 45 mg
  • Apples – 25 mg
That’s a lot of papaya or green peppers to reach 500 mg of vitamin C a day! Ideal dosing is just another reason why supplementation is so important.

The Verdict?

Well, in science the case is never closed. We are constantly learning and reevaluating our beliefs and conclusions. And with that said, considering our poor soils, environmental toxins and our desire to do more than just prevent vitamin deficiencies, supplementing our diets with ideally dosed vitamins and minerals is a necessity.

Want more guidance? Visit www.MySupplementPyramid.com to start building a personalized regimen online, right now. It's extremely useful and totally free!

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