Healthy Skin Challenge: Day 27

Day 27 – To Supplement or Not?

Dietary supplements are big business. There people who sit strongly on either side of the debate to supplement or not. I’m going to weigh in on this controversial subject as a clinical nutritionist and would love to hear from all of you about your feelings on the subject here in this forum.

In my opinion, the most important thing to remember is that each person has a unique set of needs and lifestyle circumstances which need to be considered. I feel that most individuals who eat a healthy, whole foods based diet can meet most of their needs with food alone. I will ALWAYS recommend food first.  There are a few things to consider though. Some people have genetic SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that interfere with their body’s ability to metabolize certain vitamins. Folate is the most common of the SNPs, and for those individuals, a special form of folate supplement is needed to ensure that they do not develop deficiency which can have significant health consequences. There are a few other nutrients that most American’s eating the SAD – Standard American Diet will certainly fall short on, such as vitamin D, Omega 3 fatty acids and magnesium. While I can’t offer a personalized recommendation for each of you without engaging in personalized nutrition counseling, I can offer my suggestions for supplements to consider. 

Vitamin D – the research is clear; we in the US are severely deficient in this vitamin which we make in our skin in response to sun exposure. In the Northeast where I live, the latitude only allows Vitamin D to be produced in the skin between the months of April and October. In addition, most of us work indoors and even when we go outside in the sun we cover ourselves with sunscreen. I strongly suggest everyone get their 25 hydroxy D3 level measured and aim for a value of 40 to 60 ng/ml. In my experience, 2,000 IU/day will maintain that level in most people. In the case of deficiency 5,000 to 10,000 IU/day will help raise levels to a healthy place, but again, you need to test first and during supplementation to ensure that you are taking the correct dose for your unique needs. Work with your doctor or clinical nutritionist on this.

Omega-3 – we have covered the topic of fat imbalance twice during the challenge, so you all understand the why behind the need for adequate Omega-3 in the diet. I feel most people can benefit from a dose of 1 gram per day of high quality fish oil. Many with high triglycerides and inflammatory diseases can benefit from more, but each person should consult their clinical nutritionist and doctor for advice. 


Magnesium – magnesium is an amazing mineral which plays a role as a co-factor in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body!  Deficiency symptoms range from stress to muscle fatigue and aches to constipation. You can take magnesium in many forms: soak in into your skin via an Epsom salt bath or apply topical with a product like Ancient Minerals Magnesium oil or you can take a supplemental pill or drink. For those who find that it loosens their bowels too much, the magnesium glycinate form may be a better choice.

B complex – Our B vitamins are depleted during times of stress. Given today’s lifestyle who isn’t stressed?  I think it’s not a bad idea to take a B-complex during stressful times.

Vitamin C – For those of us to consume a plant-based diet which includes 7 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, I say skip it. If you don’t then it’s probably a good idea to take a vitamin C supplement in pill or drink form to ensure you have the material your body needs to make healthy collagen.

If you choose a supplement, choose carefully. Cheaper is not always the best way to go and always buy from a company that is GMP certified.

There are several other supplements I could have added to this list of considerations, but I choose to include the ones that had the most universal relevance. Each of us has our own set of unique needs and so we need to seek guidance from a professional. I still believe in Food First, so continue to follow the guidelines we have presented here in the #healthyskinchallenge as your primary method for receiving your required nutrition.

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