Top 5 Most Important Supplements


Published: 05/04/2014

by Dr. Millie Lytle, ND, MPH, CNS


Quite often I'm asked “What are the most important supplements to take?”

I tell them there is no one-fit-all answer. While we all require a baseline of nutrients, we have a slightly different body chemistry, diet, deficiencies, toxicities, food sensitivities, list of medications, history of illness and immune system that makes each of us unique.

But even with all these individual qualities there are some basic requirements that link us together in our efforts to stay healthy due to:

1) Exposure to an overabundance of processed foods: high salt, low nutrient, bad fats and chemical processing.

2) Too few vegetables and fruits in our daily diet.

3) Taking far too many rounds of antibiotics since birth without replenishing the good microflora.

4) Most common medications deplete nutrient levels that cannot be satisfied with food alone.

5) The reality of a toxic world. We are suffering with health conditions as a result of our exposures to the natural and chemical environment.


No one will promote the necessity of a healthy diet more than a Naturopathic Doctor and nutritionist. I continually tout the healing nature of foods--on my weekly radio show, to my patients, when I give public lectures--I am completely devoted to helping people prevent and treat chronic illness using food, nutrition and lifestyle. I counsel people to pay attention to their own bodies and the impact of food and diet on their well-being. When done well, food is medicine after all.  With one exception.  Dietary supplements, may be the antidotes to iatrogenic or medically-induced deficiencies. When illness as well as medications leave you in a depleted state, food alone may not be enough to bring you back into balance. 


Here are my top 5 list of the safest dietary supplements

the majority of people can benefit from


  • Vitamin D3: Some scientists report that people with low vitamin D levels are more likely to die from cancer and heart disease and to suffer from other illnesses. Vitamin D is depleted in people who avoid the sun, wear sunscreen, are obese, are taking cholesterol medications and suffer from illness.  Low vitamin D status may flag malabsorption syndromes but it is also a beneficial treatment. It is an essential immune cell activator and its deficiency, not calcium, is one of the most likely causes of osteoporosis.  Studies are looking at supplementing individuals with anywhere from 3000-140000 IU per day safely. Take at mealtime with other fats, for best results. 
  • Probiotics- Almost everyone has taken antibiotics. Antibiotics certainly kill the nasty bacteria but they also disrupt the healthy flora, which hurts our digestion and immune system. Probiotics have been lost from most food, and commercial yogurts are not therapeutic enough to respond to this need. Dietary supplements may correct immune and infection issues, digestive problems like gas and bloating, IBS-like symptoms causing alternating constipation and diarrhea, traveler’s diarrhea, antibiotic induced diarrhea and even for fighting super-infections such as C. difficile. But they also help regulate hormones in the intestines that provide good mood, regulate sleep disorders as well as turn our satiety signals on and off in order to lose weight and gain weight.  Take before bed for best results.
  • Magnesium- This macronutrient is required in great levels, at least 400mg per day for over 300 biochemical processes in the body. It is sourced from leafy greens, root veggies, meat and virtually anything that grows in the ground.  Public health data shows that over 57% of Americans do not acquire enough from the daily diet.  It is required for normal blood pressure, blood sugar control and calcium absorption.  Ironically Magnesium is depleted by blood pressure medications, diuretics as well as acid-blockers.  Its deficiency can cause fast heart pulse, charley horses, muscle spasms, anxiety and poor quality of sleep. Some forms are also a stool softener. Take before bed for best results.
  •  Ubiquinol Coenzyme Q10 is the absorbable form of CoQ10, a body-ready antioxidant that is takes food calories and converts it to energy (or ATP) in every cell of the human body but perhaps most notably, the heart, skeletal muscles.  CoQ10 levels are depleted in some of the most commonly prescribed medications such as statins for high cholesterol, diabetes medication, beta blockers and other medications for high blood pressure and antidepressant medications.  Many people taking these medications will experience symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency such as fatigue, muscle fatigue and muscle pain. Ubiquinol is particularly beneficial for reenergizing those with mitochondrial disorders such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and rhabdomyelosis.  Best taken at breakfast for energy and absorption.


  • Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to the diet, meaning we all must consume them on a daily basis. They are the medicinal components fish oil, krill oil, flax seed oils and are also found in some of the healthiest foods; hemp and pumpkin seeds, walnuts  and small cold water fish such as anchovies, macquerel, herring and sardines.  Omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial for balancing the unhealthy effects of other fats in the diet and reducing LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and in the case of krill oil, increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol reducing risk of heart and artery disease.  They are also beneficial for maintaining healthy cells of the skin and colon and may reduce pain in inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (crohn’s and colitis). They are essential for mood, brain development, memory and have been shown to repair brain and nerve tissue post injury. Best taken with a meal and accompanying other fatty vitamins (E, D, K2 and A).


About the Author:

Dr. Millie Lytle, ND, MPH, CNS is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (2002), a private 4 year post-graduate, accredited medical school, and earned her Masters of Public Health in Hamburg, Germany. She is a Naturopathic Doctor, certified nutrition specialist and radio host of two weekly shows on AM and internet radio. She is the founder and CEO of Millie says, Inc. providing naturopathic medicine with virtual and in-person anti-aging, nutrition programs. Follow on Google+ or visit her website at for more information. She practices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and virtually.