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Smart Supplements

… for when you need a little help

By Dr. Heidi Fritz, MA, ND

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Even if you eat a well-rounded diet and focus on supporting your immune system, you could be missing out on one or more of these essential nutrients. Here’s a highlight reel of supplements that can benefit men and women of all ages.

B-complex vitamins 

B vitamins refer to a group of eight vitamins that play several important roles throughout the body. Researchers are exploring how vitamins B6, B9, and B12, in particular, reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, in addition to their other essential functions.

Vitamin B9—also known as folate in its natural form and folic acid in supplement form—aids in protein metabolism and the formation of healthy red blood cells, DNA, and RNA. Because it is crucial during pregnancy and fetal development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all women of reproductive age take a daily folic acid supplement.

Vitamin B12, found in animal products, is another important B vitamin responsible for brain and nerve cell support, red blood cell and DNA development, and boosting energy. People who are over the age of 60, vegan or vegetarian, pregnant, breastfeeding, those with gastritis or digestive diseases, and those taking heartburn medication, among others, may be at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.


Iron is essential for the creation of blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. Deficiencies of this mineral are also common in women of reproductive age, and can lead to fatigue and a number of health issues. Ask your health care practitioner for a blood test if you think you may be deficient and consider increasing your intake of dietary iron or taking an iron supplement.

Calcium and bone-building vitamins

Calcium is an important bone-building nutrient, and deficiency is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis, which affects both men and women. In fact, one in two women and up to one in four men will break a bone due to osteoporosis. However, calcium doesn’t work alone. It also relies on magnesium, vitamins D and K, and even boron and silicon to help it do its job. Ensuring you’re getting enough of these bone-building vitamins will help protect your bones for years to come.


Magnesium assists in muscle repair, neuromuscular facilitation, and blood sugar control, with deficiencies linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. It is also essential for accessing the health benefits of vitamin D. Most people can get enough magnesium by eating a well-rounded diet, however, the standard American diet only contains half of the recommended daily allowance for magnesium, and those with digestive disorders or taking medications such as water pills and antibiotics, for example, may be at increased risk of deficiency.

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