To celebrate Better Nutrition’s 75th anniversary, we’re turning the spotlight on 75 of the best supplements for your health—from cutting-edge compounds to time-honored herbs
This superfruit reduces inflammation, relieves joint pain in fibromyalgia patients, protects against neurological diseases, and helps strengthen immunity.
Aloe juice has a healing effect on the gastrointestinal tract and can ease heartburn and acid reflux.
Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, serve as key constituents of neurotransmitters in the brain. They also help regulate blood sugar, boost immunity, build muscle, relieve pain, ease depression and anxiety, enhance sexual function—and more. Top amino acids include L-glutamine, L-lysine, taurine, L-arginine, L-theanine, L-tyrosine, L-phenylalanine, and L-tryptophan.
This herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat respiratory infections, flu, bronchitis, fever, headache, and sore throat.
For bruising, soreness, or swelling, arnica gel and pellets can help speed healing and relieve pain.AshwagandhaAshwagandha has been referred to as “an antidote for stressful living” for its effectiveness at helping the body handle stress and increase energy.
Traditionally used to treat diabetes, this herb also has powerful immune-supportive effects.
Studies show that bacopa reduces anxiety while helping the mind learn quickly and retain information. Some researchers believe it may also help prevent and treat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Propolis—a substance bee’s use to protect their hives—possesses antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
It’s rich in phytoestrogens that may ease both immediate and long-term effects of menopause. In one study, black cohosh was as effective as estrogen in decreasing hot flash symptoms.
This herb helps prevent the deterioration of arthritic joints; reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness; and improve joint function. It also calms autoimmune reactions.
Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid are needed to make neurotransmitters; niacin helps lower cholesterol; and vitamins B1, B2, and B3 help energize cells. A B-complex formula can take the edge off anxiety and stress, and lift low moods.
Calcium has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis, PMS, and other conditions. It’s most effective when combined with magnesium. Research shows that Egg Shell Calcium (ESC)—a proprietary, whole-food form of calcium—is 20 percent more absorbable than other forms of calcium carbonate.
Chia seeds have been called the world’s healthiest whole food for good reason. “Chia contains the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids of any plant known, and also contains significant protein, fiber, and antioxidants,” says Wayne Coates, author of Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood.
Research shows that this spice can lower blood glucose levels, helping to prevent or treat type 2 diabetes.
Cocoa is a concentrated source of antioxidants that lower blood pressure; improve cholesterol levels; enhance heart and artery health; regulate blood-sugar and mood; and lower levels of stress hormones.
Coconut oil contains 44 percent lauric acid, shown to boost HDL (good) cholesterol. It can also help with thyroid function and blood sugar control.
Research shows that supplements of hydrolyzed types 1 and III collagen increase collagen levels in the skin. BioCell II—a patented version of hydrolyzed type II collagen—has been shown to have significant skin and joint health benefits. Certain nutrients, primarily silicon and hyaluronic acid, help promote healthy collagen formation.
Conjugated linoleic acid
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), found in grass-fed meat, helps reduce body fat. A meta-analysis featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that Tonalin CLA also helped prevent fat regain.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is essential for cardiovascular health. In one study, patients suffering from advanced congestive heart failure exhibited significantly improved heart function after supplementing with ubiquinol, the active form of CoQ10. Because the body’s ability to convert CoQ10 into ubiquinol diminishes with age, taking ubiquinol may be best for people over 40.
Cranberry extract helps prevent UTIs by stopping harmful bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder and urinary tract.
Research shows that supplementing with creatine can help active adults improve strength by 5–15 percent and increase lean body mass by 1–3 percent.
Curcumin—the key therapeutic component of turmeric, the yellow curry spice—is a powerful anti- inflammatory. It has shown benefits in treating heart failure, osteoarthritis, and Alzheimer’s.
Found in cruciferous vegetables, DIM helps promote healthy estrogen metabolism and protect against breast, cervical, and uterine cancers. It also helps ease PMS symptoms.
Your body has only a finite supply of digestive enzymes, and they diminish with age. Use a combination formula at meals to help relieve bloating and gas, and to enhance nutrient absorption.
Use this herb to fight off bacterial and viral infections, including colds and flu. Some research shows that echinacea can help alleviate anxiety, too.
Scientific analyses of European elderberry have found that the plant is packed with antioxidants and may fight bacteria. But its ability to overcome viruses may be its most valuable quality.
Fiber from plant sources lowers cholesterol, promotes weight loss, and decreases the risk of some cancers. For weight loss, try PGX, a proprietary blend of fibers that helps stabilize blood sugar and control hunger.
Studies from around the globe have revealed that the benefits of fish oil, including boosted brain power, heart health, and immunity, come from two omega-3 fatty acids—EPA and DHA. Aim to get at least 1 g of combined EPA and DHA daily.
Closely related to L-tryptophan, 5-HTP supplements have shown benefits in treating depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other aspects of brain function.
Flax and flaxseed oil are among the best sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a vegetarian omega-3 fatty acid. They also contain plant lignans that are known to benefit breast health.
Garlic helps fight infection; lowers cholesterol levels and triglycerides; reduces blood pressure; and slows the progression of hardening of the arteries.
Ginkgo boosts blood flow in the brain and protects brain cells from premature death. The herb also shows promise for those with tinnitus.
Panax ginseng is an adaptogenic herb that helps reduce the response to stress. It also supports mental performance, immune function, and adrenal gland function.
Glucosamine & chondroitin
A study of people with osteoarthritis in the knee or hip found that glucosamine supplements combined with walking brought significant pain relief and improved joint function. Chondroitin stimulates cartilage growth and production of synovial fluid, which absorbs shock and lubricates joints.
Green coffee bean
In studies, the supplement produced an average weight loss of 1–3 pounds per week, without a diet or exercise program.
Studies have shown that the healing properties of green foods (such as spirulina, chlorella, and wheat grass) are astounding, impacting cholesterol, blood pressure, immune response, cancer, and more. The common denominator is chlorophyll, which helps deliver oxygen to the blood. Green foods are also rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
EGCG is considered the chief active ingredient responsible for green tea’s health-enhancing benefits. It has been tested in many studies as a weight-loss aid. Green tea is also naturally rich in L-theanine, a calming, anti-anxiety amino acid.
One of the most revered plants in India, this herb is most often used to help the body handle stress better and also ease respiratory ailments.
Studies have shown that hyaluronic acid (HA) helps skin retain or reclaim the plump, wrinkle-free look of youth. It has the ability to bind moisture, which helps soften, smooth, tone, and rehydrate skin. It also improves joint health and helps ease arthritis pain.
Iron is an essential mineral that plays a complex role in immunity. A deficiency impairs immune function—and increases susceptibility to infection. But have your iron levels measured before taking a supplement. Iron is necessary for bacteria to reproduce, so if you supplement with iron and develop an infection, take a break from it.
In a study from Nutrition Research, 2 grams daily of krill oil—which comes from krill, tiny creatures eaten by whales, penguins, and seals—increased blood levels of the omega-3 fats significantly more than the same amount of fish oil.
Two types of licorice supplements are available: the first is a whole licorice root extract that contains glycyrrhetinic acid, which is helpful in resolving adrenal exhaustion but may cause hypertension if overused. The other type is deglycyrrhizinated (DGL)licorice—in which the glycyrrhetinic acid has been removed to prevent blood pressure issues. Use DGL for heartburn, gastric reflux, and gastric and duodenal ulcers.
Lycopene, lutein, & zeaxanthin
Found in tomatoes, lycopene can slow the increase in prostate size and lower levels of prostate specific antigen, a marker of prostate cancer risk. Lutein and zeaxanthin help ward off macular degeneration and improve visual function in people with macular degeneration.
This Peruvian plant is thought to enhance sexual desire in men and women, possibly by both elevating mood and boosting testosterone. In menopausal women, maca may help reduce anxiety and depression, and treat sexual dysfunction.
This key mineral is critical to almost all enzymatic functions in the body. It is involved in energy production, protein formation, cell replication, and muscle relaxation. After potassium, magnesium is the most concentrated intracellular mineral.
Medicinal mushrooms offer more health-promoting and disease-fighting benefits than almost any other natural medicine or food. The most widely used for medicinal purposes are reishi, shiitake, turkey tail, maitake, tremella, and wood ear fungus.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain that initiates sleep. Darkness triggers melatonin production; however, the body’s output of the hormone declines as we age. As little as 0.5 mg can be therapeutic.
This herb is a premier liver health nutrient. Its active ingredient is silymarin, which is a concentrated source of antioxidants. Milk thistle has been used in Europe as a treatment for liver disease since the 16th century.
As a supplement, this fermented food helps dissolve excess fibrin in blood vessels, which improves circulation, breaks down blood clots, and reduces risk of severe clotting. It also reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases HDL (good) cholesterol.
These flavonoids found in high concentrations in grape seed and pine bark, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
This multipurpose herb is used to treat and/or prevent colds and flu, sore throat, sinus congestion, bacterial infections, bronchitis, rashes, aches, and fungal infections. It’s rich in antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and some omega-3s.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is most abundant in brain cells. A number of clinical trials have validated the ability of supplemental PS to improve memory, learning, word recall, concentration, and mood in subjects suffering from age- related cognitive decline.
These substances block the body’s absorption of cholesterol, and some studies suggest that sterols can lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol) by as much as 15 percent.
Found in fermented foods, these friendly bacteria can help relieve digestive distress and also boost immunity.
Protein powders can help you lose weight by increasing the number of calories burned. Here’s why: replacing some carbs and fats with lean protein will slightly increase your metabolic rate because the body burns more calories when breaking down protein than other types of food.
This proprietary pine bark extract benefits the heart and blood vessels in many ways, including helping to prevent excessive clumping of platelets in the blood.
Use the plant flavonoid to reduce inflammation and combat allergies (quercetin reduces the release of histamine from immune cells).
Red yeast rice
Red yeast rice has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, and human studies since the 1970s have found that it can lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Resveratrol, the key ingredient in red wine, gained much notoriety after several animal studies found that it extends life. It has also been shown to calm inflammation, balance blood sugar, protect against tumors, and enhance both physical and mental performance.
“Ribose is what the energy molecules in our bodies are made from,” explains Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of From Fatigued to Fantastic! Consequently, the supplement optimizes energy levels. It also improves sleep and mental clarity and eases pain.
This adaptogenic herb can help the body cope with stress and fatigue.
A literature review published in the journal Clinical and Investigative Medicine concluded that “there appears to be a role for SAM-e in the treatment of major depression in adults.” SAM-e has also been shown to help ease pain.
This herb is a key supplement for men over 40. It works by stopping testosterone from converting into DHT, a compound that causes prostate cells to multiply.
This berry is known throughout Europe and Asia as the “beauty berry” for its ability to promote softer, younger-looking skin. Research has also shown that sea buckthorn helps to strengthen immunity and protect the heart.
Selenium is an important mineral that almost no one gets enough of through diet. It’s an antioxidant powerhouse and immune booster.
St. John’s wort
In one meta-analysis, this flowering herb was found to be as effective as antidepressant drugs, with fewer side effects.
7-keto DHEA can help you lose weight and stay trim by boosting metabolism.
Trace minerals include zinc, copper, iron, chromium, strontium, selenium, iodine, manganese, and molybdenum. All of these minerals should be found in multimineral or trace mineral supplements.
Recent studies have substantiated this herb’s ability to improve sleep quality and relieve insomnia.
Vitamin C plays key roles in energy production; mood; skin and bone health; blood vessel strength; and cartilage maintenance. Ester-C, a proprietary, non-acidic form of the vitamin, is easier for many people to digest.
Vitamin D3 is the preferred and best absorbed form of the sunshine vitamin. Research has shown that it reduces the long-term risk of cancer; lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and related diseases; promotes strong, healthy bones; and helps fend off colds and flu.
Research shows that vitamin K can have striking benefits in preventing and reversing osteoporosis, controlling blood sugar, and maybe even reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Use tocotrienols—a “super” form of vitamin E with greater antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power than plain old vitamin E.
Zinc is a crucial mineral that can benefit eyesight, immunity, acne, male fertility, and more.
Supplement Shopping List: Here are a few product examples of supplements mentioned in this article. For a more detailed list of product examples, visit betternutrition.com and click on “Celebrating 75.” There, you can download an expanded version of the article as a PDF.
|For an amino acid formula, we like: Anabol Naturals Amino Balance.||For a resveratrol supplement, we like: NeoCell Resveratrol Antioxidant.||For a calcium supplement, we like: Membrell BONEHealth.|
|For a magnesium supplement, we like: Natural Vitality Natural Calm.||For a digestive enzyme formula, we like: Solgar Comfort Zone Digestive Complex.||For a hyaluronic acid supplement, we like: Hyalogic Joint Logic HA Lozenges.|
|For a weight-loss protein powder, we like: Almased.||For a sea buckthorn supplement, we like: Tangut Sea Berry Essence.||For an herbal supplement, we like: Himalaya Herbal Healthcare Ashwagandha.|
|For a brain health supplement, we like: Source Naturals Phosphatidyl Serine Matrix.||For a green foods supplement, we like Paradise Herbs ORAC-Energy Greens.||For a fish oil supplement, we like: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Minis.|