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Savvy Supplement Shopping

Savvy Supplement Shopping

It may seem like a paradox but obesity and malnutrition often go hand in hand.  Processed, high-sugar, high-calorie foods contain almost no nutrients yet require even more vitamins and minerals to metabolize them.

These processed foods, made cheaply and easily accessible by government subsidies, are consumed to excess, driving obesity rates up in nearly three out of four Americans. The more we eat, the fatter we become and diabesity is the end result which drives most of the occurrences of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and even depression.

A candy bar costs less than a head of broccoli. But the cost to our health is far greater, hidden at the checkout line.  Direct health care costs in the U.S. over the next decade attributable to diabetes and pre-diabetes will be $3.4 trillion, or one in every ten health care dollars spent!

The sicker we become from these empty calories, the more medications will be sold by big pharma to treat high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and many other lifestyle-driven diseases. But there is good news – strong scientific evidence proving the importance of nutrients as key players in restoring our health is mounting.

While certain medications aid in healing or symptom reduction, understanding the basics of human nutrition and metabolism is fundamental to unearthing the real cause of this epidemic.

Nutrients provide the oil that greases the wheels of our metabolism.  And large-scale nutritional deficiencies in our population, including omega-3 fats, vitamin D, folate, zinc, magnesium, and iron, have been well documented in extensive government-sponsored research.

Why are we so nutrient depleted?  First, we evolved from eating wild foods containing dramatically higher levels of all vitamins, minerals, and essential fats.  Second, because of depleted soils and industrial farming and hybridization techniques, the animals and vegetables we eat have fewer nutrients. Third, processed factory-made foods have no nutrients.  And fourth, the total burden of environmental toxins, lack of sunlight, and chronic stress leads to higher nutrient needs.

That is why everyone needs a good multivitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D supplement.  I also recommend probiotics because modern life, diet, antibiotics, and other drugs damage our gut ecosystem, which is so important in keeping us healthy and thin.

Be a Savvy Shopper

Supplements are a multi-billion dollar unregulated industry.  The wide display of choices in drug stores, food stores, online, and even in doctors’ offices can make your head spin!  It is more important now than ever to be aware of what you are and are not getting.

Be sure to pick quality supplements and ones that contain nutrients and compounds research has shown to be effective and safe.  Think of them as part of your diet.  You want the best quality food and the best quality supplements you can buy.

Because I use supplements in my practice as a cornerstone of healing and repair I have investigated supplement makers, toured their factories, studied independent analysis of their finished products and experimented with them personally.

I have learned there are few companies I can rely on.  I want my patients to heal and get their life back so I need to be very cautious when evaluating what I recommend.  This is how I judge quality supplements:

  1. The form of the nutrient is high-quality, well-absorbed, or used by the body.
  2. The dosage on the label matches the dose in the pill.
  3. They contain absolutely zero additives, colors, fillers, and allergens.
  4. The raw materials (especially herbs) have been tested for toxins like mercury or lead, and are consistently pure from batch to batch.
  5. The factory in which they are produced follows good manufacturing standards, so products are uniformly consistent in quality.  I want to be sure I know I’m getting the same thing every time.

Supplements to Heal Diabesity

We are overfed and undernourished. It may seem paradoxical that the most obese are also the most malnourished. It has been said that diabetes is starvation in the midst of plenty.  When sugar and vital nutrients to your health can’t get into your cells, metabolism slows and becomes sluggish.   Without this nutrition, cells don’t communicate as a finely tuned team and you feel sick and lousy.

Nutrients are an essential part of getting back into balance and correcting the core problem – insulin resistance, when cells become numb to the effects of insulin.  There are two ways in which these supplements work:

  1. They make your cells more sensitive to insulin.
  2. They increase your cells ability to metabolize sugar and fats.  Also, special fibers can slow the absorption of sugars and fats into the bloodstream leading to faster metabolism, more balanced blood sugars, improved cholesterol, less inflammation, less cravings, more weight loss, and more energy.

While I strongly discourage you from going off any medication without your doctor’s supervision, you can integrate the following in your regimen to help overcome diabesity.

  • A high-quality multi-vitamin and mineral.
  • 1,000 to 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 a day with breakfast.
  • 500 to 1,000 mg of omega-3 fats, (should contain a ratio of approximately 300/200 EPA/DHA), once with breakfast and once with dinner.
  • 100 to 200 mg of magnesium, once with breakfast and once with dinner.
  • 300 to 600 mg alpha lipoic acid a day, once with breakfast and once with dinner.
  • 200 to 600 mcg chromium polynicotinate a day (up to 1,200 mcg a day can be helpful).
  • 0.5 to 1 mg biotin, once with breakfast and once with dinner.
  • 125 to 250 mg cinnamon, once with breakfast and once with dinner.
  • 25 to 50 mg green tea catechins, once with breakfast and once with dinner.
  • 2 to 5 grams of PGX fiber in powder or capsules, 15 minutes before each meal with 8 ounces of water.

To learn more about the specific products I recommend and use with my patients, see

Whether you follow my product recommendations or not, please practice smart shopping and become savvy about what you put into your body.  Guidance from a trained dietitian, nutritionist, or nutritionally oriented physician or health care practitioner can be helpful in selecting products.  For help selecting the highest quality supplements, consider getting support from my nutrition coaching team.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD



Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (41)

  • Thanks for the article!

    It’s hard to eat right today when you walk into any grocery store, and the unhealthy processed foods are a reach away. It takes a lot of self-drive to choose the broccoli over the chocolate bar.

    I agree that most people need some form of supplementation, and personally, I take vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids daily. However, I also feel that what you need as a supplement depends on the individual and there’s no one fits all model.

  • I have a very bad time with regular pill supplements — they hit my stomach hard, sometimes causing flatulence or diarrhea. Are all/natural gummy supplements a healthy alternative, or are they bad?

    After a vertical gastric sleeve operation, I absolutely need to use supplements, so I’ve settled on gummy multis, gummy omega 3, gummy B-Vitamins, gummy CoQ-10, gummy vitamin C, liquid D3 and liquid B12. My regulat blood tests come back with good results in my vitamin levels, but should I still try to use supplements like you advocate, which have as few additives as possible? I make certain to only take gummies free of corn syrup and fake colors, but I still worry about the sugar.

    • Hi Jean,

      Yes, clean, high quality supplements are best because what you put in your system is what you get! Try to avoid anything with unnecessary sugars, dyes, chemicals, additives, excipients, binders, fillers and potentially harmful ingredients like gluten and dairy. You might try liquid versions instead of gummies which tend to be high in sugar. Although certain “gummy” supplements are better than others so it depends on what you have! For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • Thank you for sharing your knowledge Dr. Hyman. Could you provide your list of recommended supplement suppliers? I am a 51 year old male and currently purchase from Life Extension and Dr. Al Sears.
    Thanks again
    Rick Novak

    • Hi Rick,

      Dr Hyman doesnt necessarily promote brands of supplements however if you would like to see the level of quality he expects please feel free to peruse the store for more insight:

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • According to The China Study, if we eat a whole foods plant-based diet, we do not need to take supplements except D3 if we live in a colder climate, and possible B12.

    • The China Study has deep flaws & those conclusions are not necessarily correct. There are several excellent explanations available via google.

  • I would like to print this article for my 90-year-old father whose diet is very high in sugar. However, the right margin cuts off and I don’t see a link to a printable copy. You might consider adding this feature so that readers can print and share articles.

  • I have followed your recommendations since April, 2012. By the end of July, 2012 I had lost 50 lbs and my doctor was able to eliminate my cholestrol, acid reflux and diabetes medications. By the end of 2012, I was released from my blood pressure medicines and I am feeling better than I ever have in my life. Since following you I see a trend of others who are moving over to your way of thinking. I no longer go to pills to fix what ails me, I go to nature. Thank you Dr. Hyman!

  • Dear Dr. Hyman,

    Your books and blogs are first rate. The problem is, at least for this Florida retiree, finding a local M.D. that believes your posts or at least will take it into consideration.

    I pay several thousand dollars per year into a health plan and insurance that is additional to Medicare. Yet this system does not recognize most of your material, and moreover when I have tried to follow the ‘official’ FDA related prescriptions (other than antibiotics and some vaccinations) the results have either left me worse off or no better. I now understand that under Obama care, I will be pressured into taking M.D. prescribed drugs.

    • Stan, I share your concerns, but I wouldn’t blame them on ObamaCare. It is what it is: healthcare politics. Healthcare is really Diseasecare. If pharmaceutical companies have a heavy hand in lobbying for guaranteed profits–what you call “pressured into taking MD prescribed drugs.” Pharmaceutical companies have a heavy hand in funding medical schools so that med students learn about cutting, burning, and poisoning as the standard of care. So little attention is given to functional medicine, anti-aging medicine, and nutrition. Pharmaceutical companies also fund the clinical research for their drugs. They are not going to fund clinical trials on supplements. Obamacare is what we got–which included an expansion of Medicaid for poor people, and some eleven states won’t even give their poor constituents that. As long as healthcare is profit driven, we’re stuck. We need universal healthcare, and I think Mr. Obama knows that.

      • The problem that most certainly IS to be blamed on Obamacare is that our health insurance premiums have already risen $60 per paycheck.

        We can no longer afford the supplements that have been helping us with our health issues.

        And I just read that we should expect our healthcare premiums to as much as double!! That would leave us too poor to afford insurance but not poor enough to be “granted” a subsidy (& not useful enough to receive one of the MANY crony exemptions). Now I am fighting depression as well as stress!

  • Hi Doctor,

    So which brands would you personally recommend? I’ve heard good things about NOW, Jarrow, and Source Naturals.

  • Stan raises a good point. Under ObamaCare, will health care become more Rx-driven or will health insurance companies be more cognizant of, encourage, and cover prevention through a healthy lifestyle in order to lower their costs?

  • Try black seed oil, or whole black seed (nigella sativa). Recent studies show this ancient herb kills bacteria, inflammation, and even cancer cells! I sell the stuff and know its benefits. visit us at to purchase inexpensive black seed products, raw local honey, raw organic herb and spice infused honey, and natural handmade herbal tea blends.

  • Now that I’m here at the site I don’t see any info or an indicator of where to look for the specific products Dr. Hyman recommends. Please help.

    • Hi Marjorie,

      If you are taking the high quality supplements recommended by Dr Hyman in the appropriate forms and doses than you do not need to overlap.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  • Nice and informative post! Really appreciate the efforts you have put in to research these facts. Probably will help out a lot of readers! Cheers!

  • Hi Dr. Hymen,

    I need your help to find natural painkiller supplement for 80 year old aunt, who suffers from pains and aches due to arthritis and also basic vitamins so she could stay healthy and be around with us much longer.

    Thank you, I love your site, very informative

    Bonnie Bak

  • As much as I agree the sad state our society faces when making food choices as processed and/or fast foods are far less expensive that real food what average person could possible afford the $700+ price for your recommended supplement program. (Emphasizing that’s just the “basic supplement plan for ONE person for ONE month). The brands you recommend are high quality supplements so the advice is right on for “the rich & famous” or in the case where someone may win the lottery.

  • I’ve read recently vitamin D should only come from the sun not as a supplement?

  • Hi Dr Hyman,
    What do you think of Juice Plus? I’m thinking about giving it a try after hearing all of the positive results it has on your health but would love your feedback. Thanks!

  • I have sifted through and struggled to find Quality natural supplement for years. I finally found a product line that was the purest high quality supplements that I have ever come across. I have been on them for about 6 months and couldn’t feel better. I won’t use anything else now. Company is ID (individually designed) Life. It is a medically backed evidenced based company that has a Free hippa compliant assessment that takes the guesswork out of what you need. It told me exactly what I needed as an individual as we are all different and have different needs. The part I loved is that it broke down exactly why I needed that supplement and the medical data to back that why. I get all of my vitamins in individual strip packs that tell me to take in the morning or at night and they ship right to my door on schedule for the month. It is sooo convenient. All of their product line had no gluten, no soy, no casein, no gmo’s, no artificial sweeteners or dyes. All organic/natural product that is of the highest quality. It’s been heaven sent in daily well being and weighty loss since I am now getting the nutrition I need. I really encourage you to take 5 minutes and do the free hippa compliant online assessment and the rest if their site/product and see what your individually designed regime is to suit your needs. Change your life now. I am glad I did 6 months ago.

  • I read that you have reviewed supplements. Where can I find the results of your reviews?

    • Hi Sharon,
      We recommend organic extra-virgin olive oil. Be careful to avoid using olive oil in a pan that is too hot. If the oil smokes, it’s too hot it would be best to clean out your pan and start over.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

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