Supplements 101

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

Well my wife and I are now officially moved, and I officially hate moving even more. Our new place is a freakin disaster of boxes and stuff that we have to organize and/or just throw away. I haven’t decided yet.

With that in mind and my massive amount of school work, please bear with me as this week might be a little light on the blogging front, though I will do my best to still be awesome.

Recently Tony Gentilcore wrote a nice little blog series on supplements in general, and the supplements he takes on a daily basis. I thought it was quite good, and it inspired me to write a similar piece of my own for today.

Just like Tony noted, supplements are just that, supplements! They are there to add to an already stellar nutritional intake. If your nutrition sucks, your fancy supplements probably are not doing a whole lot.

With that said, I am going to assume that since you read this blog, your nutrition is pretty stellar (that might be one what one calls a leap of faith), and since your nutrition is so stellar I will outline what I think are quality supplements that are worth your while, as well the products I specifically take myself on a daily basis.

To me there are 4-5 supplements that nearly everyone would benefit from, and would be more than justified in taking (I don’t know if anyone needs supplements, but these can can be incredibly beneficial).

  1. Fish Oil
  2. Vitamin D
  3. Protein powder (I prefer whey)
  4. Probiotics
  5. Multivitamin

There are others, such as creatine that I think are excellent as well, and one could certainly make a case for it to be on that list as it has performance benefits, strength and lean mass benefits, as well cognitive benefits. In fact the research on creatine is growing rapidly and is having benefits for multiple bodily systems. However, I think those 5 are good solid choices for pretty much everybody.

Fish oil

Fish oil has absolutely tons of benefits. It improves the health of the eye, brain, joints, nerves, heart and cardiovascular system, performance, emotional status (depression),  overall mortality and more. My only caveat is that people either take too little or too much, no one seems to want to be in the middle ground on this one!

Unless you are treating a specific condition, the best range for fish oil to be in is 1-2 grams of combined EPA and DHA per day. So 1 pill that contains 300mg is not sufficient for a beneficial dose, and taking 4.5 grams of EPA and DHA is not such a hot idea either (can increase bleeding risk, cause immune suppression, etc).

While the specifics are beyond the scope of this post, 1-2 grams will give you the most bang for your buck while minimizing any potential side effects. I personally take and recommend 2 Athletic Greens Omega-3 pills per day, providing about 1.2 grams of EPA/DHA. It is made from small, wild, sustainably-caught fish, is third-party tested for contaminants, is ultra-concentrated (you only need the 2 capsules), has no fishy after-taste and it will only cost you $10/month!

Vitamin D

The research on the benefits of vitamin D seems to be growing by the day. Optimizing vitamin D may decrease your risk for over a dozen cancers, increase bone density, increase performance, may improve body composition and insulin sensitivity, improve mood and more. Again this is one of those supplements where people either take too little or far too much.

I will also admit that I hopped on the high dose vitamin D bandwagon for a while, but I think that too much of a good thing is still too much, and would no longer recommend doses over 4,000-5,000IU. Unless you are correcting a serious deficiency or are pregnant/nursing, then I recommend 1,000-2,000IU per day. You are still best to get your levels tested and go from there. Aim for blood levels of about 30-40 ng/mL. The rule of thumb is it takes about 1,000 IU to raise your levels by 10 ng/mL.

There are many quality products to choose from, but a solid choice would be Vitacost’s Vitamin D3 2000IU. It is a year’s supply for $11!

I will wrap this up next time!

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Posted on April 12th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


  1. John Says:

    Brian-Why liquid (fish oil) vs. pills?

    Thanks for another great read

  2. The Home of BSP Training & Nutrition » Blog Archive » Stuff You Should Read Says:

    [...] a test and a quiz, and 3.5 hours of commuting each day, there has been little time to wrap up the supplement blog I wrote on [...]

  3. Michelle Says:

    Hi Brian,
    Do you have a recommendation on a probiotic? Thanks!

  4. Darcy Says:


    I ‘second’ both John and Michelle’s questions; Carlson’s offers their fish oil in softgels and a lot of people seem keen on ‘Jarrow EPS’ as a probiotic. Thoughts?

    Thanks tons- Darcy

  5. Hockey Nutrition | Supplements for Hockey Players | Says:

    [...] Supplements 101 from Brian St. Pierre Brian is my go-to guy when I have nutrition questions, either for myself or for our athletes at Endeavor. In this article, Brian highlights 5 essential supplements that everyone should be taking. Again, this isn’t necessarily pitched to be specific to hockey players, but just things to improve overall health and well-being. With that said, all of these things will have performance-enhancing benefits for hockey players and should therefore not be overlooked. [...]

  6. The Home of BSP Training & Nutrition » Blog Archive » Supplements 101 – Part 2 Says:

    [...] I am going to continue my post on Supplements from last week. If you haven’t caught up, please do [...]

  7. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    I just blogged about this today!

  8. Brian St. Pierre Says:

    I simply prefer to take less pills if I can. The oil also prevents any issues from pills not breaking down properly. Anecdotally, alternative care practitioners claim that the straight oil is more effective. However, Carlson’s Elite Omega-3 Gems are great too, and provide 1.4g EPA/DHA in 2 pills.

  9. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    I responded to both of their questions, and that probiotic seems fine, however I am not very familiar with it.

  10. Rees Says:

    I’m not totally surprised but I made a list like this when I opened my gym, and decided to include Magnesium. Thoughts on why you wouldn’t?

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    Wow, very informative post Steve I’ll be sure to bookmark this. As a whey protein powder user myself I appreciate your research. Thanks!

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  18. The Home of BSP Training & Nutrition » Blog Archive » A Day In The Life Says:

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