What Supplements Should I Take?

The Physicians Committee

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What Supplements Should I Take?


Foods generally give you the nutrients your brain and body need. But there are a few supplements you should know about. Vitamin supplementation is mainly required for vitamins B12 and D.


The U.S. government recommends B12 for everyone over age 50. However, it is prudent for everyone, regardless of age, to take vitamin B12. Drugstores and health foods stores also sell B12 supplements, as well as “B complex” (that is, a mixture of B-vitamins). All typical store brands have more than the 2.4 micrograms adults need, and there is no toxicity from supplements with higher amounts.

Fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soymilk, and fortified meat analogues contain a reliable source of the vitamin.

Learn more: Vitamin B12: A Simple Solution

B12 foods: fortified cereal, multi-vitamins, soymilk

Vitamin D

Although vitamin D’s best-known function is to help you absorb calcium from the foods you eat, it also has a cancer-preventive effect. The natural source is sunlight. Fifteen or 20 minutes of direct sunlight on your face and arms each day provides the vitamin D you need. If you are indoors most of the time, you’ll want to take a supplement. The U.S. government recommends 600 IU per day for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU per day for older people.

Because of vitamin D’s cancer-preventing effects, some authorities recommend daily doses as high as 2,000 IU per day. This level of supplementation appears to be safe, but do not exceed that dose without a physician’s directive.

Fortified cereals, grains, bread, orange juice, and soy- or rice milk are healthful foods that provide vitamin D.

Vitamin D sources: sunshine, fortified cereal, whole wheat bread, fortified orange juice

Folate and Vitamin B6

If blood tests show that your homocysteine level is high, it may be sensible to add folate and B6 to your regimen. Oxford researchers used a combination of 800 micrograms of folate, and 20 milligrams of vitamin B6, along with 500 micrograms of vitamin B12 in people with high homocysteine levels. The vitamin combination reduced homocysteine and boosted their cognitive function. If you do not have a high homocysteine level, you’ll get the folate and B6 you need from foods alone.

Folate is abundant in spinach, broccoli, legumes, orange juice, walnuts, and asparagus. B6 is plentiful in whole grains, soy foods, peanuts, walnuts, bananas, and avocados.

Brussles sprouts, broccoli, kidney beans, kale

Multivitamins without Iron and Copper

Some manufacturers provide vitamin formulations without added iron and copper. Here are a few. Please note that the Physicians Committee does not endorse or promote the use of any specific commercial brands:

  • Nature’s Blend: Multivitamin No Minerals
  • Solgar: Vitamins Only
  • SNAC (Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning): Multivitamins Only.