10 Best Mindset Supplements
Before jumping into my list of the 10 best supplements I recommend, I’d like to answer some of the most common questions people ask me when they are ready to start adding supplements to their daily lifestyle and routine.
What are the best brands of supplements to use?
As supplements are unregulated, I suggest using only the most reputable brands. Jarrow, Life Extension, NOW Foods, AOR, and Costo’s brand (Kirkland) have all been scrutinized by watch dog groups like Consumer Reports. Their supplements contain what the label claims they contain.
How can you best take supplements?
Some supplements work better than others. Trial and error in the name of the game. What works well for you might do little for me, and vice versa. For me, magnesium is a game changer. I used to get restless leg syndrome, which kept me up at night. Taking magnesium has eliminated the symptoms. A reader also wrote in telling me he cured his insomnia of three years after he began, at my suggestion, taking epsom salt (which is rich in magnesium) baths.
To multi-vitamin or not to multi-vitamin?
As the supplement industry is unregulated, most multi-vitamins do not contain an effective dose of vitamins and minerals. There are, however, three multi-vitamins that provide concentrated amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. AOR Ortho Core (Amzn), the Life Extension Foundation’s Life Extension Mix (Amzn), and Super Nutrition Opti-Pak (Amzn) are all excellent multivitamins. Do read the labels, however, as some multivitamin contains a version of vitamin B3 that causes what’s known as the niacin rush, that is reddening and flushing of the skin lasting 10-20 minutes.
Always consult your physician before taking any supplements.
Some supplements may be contradicated for certain conditions. For example, fish oil and aspirin may be contraindicated in cases where someone has a blood-clotting condition. Always disclose your supplement use to doctors as well.
Now, are you ready for that top 10 list?
- N-A-C (Amzn). Gluthionine is a powerful liver detoxifier. Many illnesses like depression and anxiety are being understood as being caused by free radical damage rather than “chemical imbalances” or low serotonin.
Indeed, I used N-A-C to treat mild symptoms of depression and anxiety. One reader emailed telling me his father’s intractable depression was finally under control after he read my N-A-C article and began taking N-A-C. Many others have reached out telling me N-A-C improved their symptoms of anxiety and depression.
I suggest taking 2 grams of N-A-C in divided doses (that is, one gram twice each day), preferably on an empty stomach.
- ZMA (Zinc and Magnesium). Magnesium is responsible for over 500 different biological processes. Suboptimal levels of magnesium lead to heart disease, depression, restless leg syndrome, and even insomnia.
Magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin. A warm bath with 1-2 cups of epsom salt is a relaxing, effective way to realize the benefits of magnesium. Zinc boosts your immune system, improves endothelial function, and can even boost testosterone levels. ZMA is an easy way to take adequate amounts of both supplements at once. I take 50 mg of zinc and 500 mg of magnesium before bed on an empty stomach. When sweating a lot, I take up to 1,000 mg of magnesium.
- Vitamin D3 (Amzn). Vitamin D is a hormone responsible for bone health, heart function, and even mood. Most people are deficient in Vitamin D, as the natural source of Vitamin D is the sun. Most of us avoid the sun, or when we do go out in the sun, we wear sunscreen. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is due to low levels of sunlight, and Vitamin D3 has been used to help treat symptoms of depression. There’s some research suggesting that Vitamin D may have anti-cancer properties. I take 5,000IU of Vitamin D a day, with a meal.
- Fish oil (Amzn). Inflammation is a killer, and fish oil is anti-inflammatory. Some believe those in “blue zones” — that is areas with the highest concentration of most people who lived to be over 100 years of age — owe their longevity to a high intake of fatty fish. Most doctors consider fish oil a must-have supplement, and Dr. Bret Obsorn, a neurosurgeon and anti-aging physician, advises everyone without contradictions to take between 5 and 15 grams of fish oil daily. My preferred way of ingesting fish oil is drinking lemon-flavored Carlson’s fish oil. I actually like the lemon-flavored fish oil and can drink a shot right out of the bottle. There are also tables. Enteric tablets are much less likely to cause “fish oil burps,” a common but mild side effect of taking fish oil. I take 5-10 grams of fish oil daily.
- Greens+ (Amzn). Eating your vegetables or making green juices and smoothies is the best step you can take for your overall health. Yet we often travel, making it impractical to get in enough greens. That’s where a greens powder like Greens+ comes in.
Greens+ is an acquired taste. The Berry Greens are much more palatable to new users. I take 1-2 servings of a greens powder daily.
- Whey protein. Protein from whole food sources like lean meat, chicken, salmon, eggs, and lentils is optimal. Yet it’s hard to take in adequate amounts of protein. Whey protein is more of a food source in my view. It’s a quick and tasty way to get in extra protein. Peptides in whey protein boost the immune system. I take 25-50 grams of whey protein a day.
- Curcumin (Amzn). Curcumin is a compound isolated from turmeric. Cucumin reduces inflammation throughout the body and is also used to treat inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Some research suggests that cucumin can slow the growth of cancerous tumors. Ordinary curcumin is hard for the body to absorb, and thus many products contain piperine, a compound that makes curcumin more bioavailable. I take 500 to 1,000 mg of curcumin with piperine daily.
- B-Complex (B vitamins) (Amzn).B vitamins include thiamine, riboflavin, B3 (niacin), B6, B12, and folic acid. B vitamins improve heart health and nerve health. B vitamins are commonly added to “energy drinks” as they can improve focus, mood, and concentration. Low levels of B vitamins in the body lead to anemia, low energy, and poor memory. My preferred B-complex is made by a niche Canadian company known as AOR. Their B-complex contains methylcobalamin, which is the more bioavilable version of B12. I take 1 to 3 B-complex tablets on an empty stomach, usually first thing in the morning and then another in early afternoon.
- Nootropics. The best nootropic, you’ll recall, is exercise. And many “brain boosting supplements” offer much hype while delivering little. There are, however, two nootropics with considerable research behind them.
Vinpocetine (Amzn) is a supplement extracted from the periwinkle plant, and it’s been shown to improve blood flow to the brain. As you saw in earlier sections, more blood to the brain improves cognition and enhances memory. Vinpocetine may also help prevent strokes, again due to its ability to increase blood flow. 10-20 mgs of vinpocetine does the trick for me, although I don’t use it every day.
Piracetam is an anti-clotting supplement that increases blood blood through the body and has even been shown to help treat deep-vein thrombosis. By now this may be sounding like a broken record, but the pattern cannot be overstated. Activities and supplements that improve blood flow improve overall health and cognition.
- Mood-enhancement supplements. Some supplements have been shown to help improve and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression through regulating serotonin. Unlike the other supplements mentioned above, these do not work by improving blood flow but rather by helping the body better regulate serotonin, a “feel good chemical” the body produces. Low serotonin leads to sadness and in many cases severe depression.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, as the body cannot produce it on its own. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin. That is, the body produces serotonin from tryptophan. Results with tryptophan vary based on person, as some people are deficient and require more. People often use 500 to 2,000 mg daily.
5-HTP (Amzn) has been shown in several studies to be an effective form of treating depression, as 5-HTP is another serotonin precursor. 5-HTP is also an effective sleep aid, as it can reduce symptoms of anxiety. I take 100 to 500 mg of 5-HTP when undergoing extensive stress or when having difficultly sleeping.