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5 Crucial Nutrients (Almost) All of Us Are Lacking

In a perfect world, our bodies would happily feast on a well-balanced diet, absorbing all the essential nutrients they need to function. But, let’s face it, reality often has other plans.

Our chaotic contemporary lifestyles, filled with fast-and-easy, processed foods, can lead to malnourishment even on the best days.

Hence, our obsession with the modern-day superheroes we call supplements.

Supplements have quickly become the go-to option for health-conscious folks across the globe and for good reason. These simple capsules can fill in the nutritional gaps and save us from diseases of deficiency — providing crucial compounds that are lacking in our candy-forward diets.

But hold your horses, because it’s not as easy to strategically integrate supplements as it may seem!

That’s why we asked Dr. Neal, holistic pharmacist of 20 years and supplement savant, to break down the nutrients that we humans actually need to thrive. Because, if we’re honest, it’s perilously easy to waste money and time on cheap or ineffective supplements.

So, scroll on, wellness warrior, to meet the five nutrients — AKA the Vital5 — that will soon become the building blocks of your very own, personally-tailored supplement strategy. (And learn why they’re vital, which forms to take, and the doses that make a difference!)

In This Article:

Beware the Supplement Band-Aid: 3 Mindset Shifts

We’ve all been there: caught up in the quick-fix mentality, hoping that a handful of magical pills will magically transform us into Greek gods and goddesses without lifting a finger. 

Who could blame us? When you feel like crap, or your health just isn’t where you’d like it to be, you’ll try anything.

But here’s the harsh truth — supplements are not Band-Aids. They can’t plaster over a lifestyle that’s been built on junk food, Netflix binges, and staying up until 3 a.m. staring at cat memes. That just simply isn’t how it works.

(We’re not judging though; we’ve learned this from experience!)

Supplements aren’t the protagonists in your wellness story. They’re the supporting characters and they need to be chosen strategically after you’ve worked on improving the 5 lifestyle domains in your control.

Learn More: The Wellness Pyramid: Your Roadmap to Holistic Health

Taking supplements before optimizing your sleep, diet, stress management, etc., is a bit like going to the gym and lifting random weights, hoping to transform into a bodybuilder overnight.

So, let’s set the record straight — if you want to avoid wasting money and supplement your lifestyle strategically, there are three things you have to know:

  1. Supplements should complement our wellness practices, not replace them. 
  2. They enhance our efforts and have a cumulative effect, not an overnight cure.
  3. And most importantly, they should be chosen based on real science, not the latest influencer endorsement.

Remember, the wellness industry is like the Wild West, with loose regulations and even looser standards. Knowledge is power, then, and being an informed supplement consumer will save you from drowning in a sea of snake oil and empty promises.

Before popping that pill or gulping down that elixir, ask yourself: Why am I taking this? Is there solid research backing it up? Does it align with my specific needs and goals? 

Dr. Neal’s Vital5 – Nutrients We Need the Most

Once you’ve committed to the lifestyle changes necessary for your, unique wellness journey, it’s time to start supplementing strategically with the nutrients you’re most likely still low on — we call them the Vital5.

When Dr. Neal set to formulating this simple set of critical components, it was to answer the question he heard nearly every day in his 20 years of practice: “What supplement should I take?”

The wisecracking wellness wizard realized that most modern folks are inundated with marketing tactics and misinformation — the Vital5, then, puts the power back in the hands of the individual by cutting through the chaos.

The three criteria points Dr. Neal chose to delineate the vital nutrients from the not-so-vital ones are:

1. They are difficult to get the right amounts, even in the healthiest diets.

Here’s a truth bomb: it’s cheaper (in dollars AND calories) to use quality supplements than it is to buy all the food necessary to get these nutrients naturally.

We’re not saying skip the kale and munch on pills instead, but let’s be real about it — keeping up with a nutritionally perfect diet isn’t always a piece of cake. 

2. They benefit not just one, but several body systems.

These nutrient powerhouses — omega-3s, probiotics, bone support, protein, and multivitamins — are the foundation of health and wellness, affecting everything from our brains and bones to digestion and endocrine systems.

So, when it comes to buying supplements, investing in these five nutrients will give you the most bang for your buck.

3. They have strong evidence to support their benefit

Dr. Neal chose, quite specifically, the nutrients that have the most data-dense background. Each one has been studied, scrutinized, and put through the wringer that is the modern scientific method.

Because, at its core, the philosophy of the Vital5 is to help individuals sift through the BS and find what actually works, based on the cold, hard evidence available.

This list of vital nutrients was designed to address the nutritional optimization gap — AKA the chasm between where we are nutritionally, and where our body needs us to be to function properly and thrive.

So keep in mind that it’s not just about taking the right vitamins and minerals. It’s about choosing the right supplement manufacturer, the right form of the vitamin or mineral, and the right dose, too.  

Meet the Vital5: Nutrients to Optimize Before Anything Else


  • Form: Alaskan Fish Oil
  • Critical Components: Omega-3, EPA, DHA
  • Dose: 2,000-3,000mg daily

Omega-3 has been in the spotlight lately, most likely for its unparalleled effect on mental clarity and cognitive functioning. We humans tend to like our brains, and just about anything that makes our brains work a little better.

But it’s not just for that topmost organ — omega-3s play a pivotal role in combatting inflammation, improving joints, boosting eye health, and supporting the heart all thanks to its essential nature as a fatty acid.

You see, most of us are getting a little too much of this fatty acid’s pro-inflammatory counterpart — omega-6s — from our diets, and not enough of the anti-inflammatory agent, omega-3. Inflammation, in the right amounts, helps our bodies fend off illnesses and infections, but it can do more damage than good in excess.

Most Americans over-consume omega-6 fats and under-consume omega-3.  We like to see a ratio of 4:1 omega-6 to omega-3, but we’re closer to 20:1.

Dr. Neal Smoller

Using supplementation to balance your omega-3 and omega-6 intake, then, is the key to a healthy inflammatory response all throughout the body.

Learn More: Omega-3 Supplement Buying Guide: 3 Things to Look For


Was it Hippocrates or Dr. Oz who said, “All disease begins in the gut,”?

Whoever it was hit the nail on the head – gut health is the gateway to overall health, and probiotics are our digestive system’s greatest allies.

Here’s the gist: Probiotics are microorganisms, but not all microorganisms are probiotics. And, by the same token, not all probiotics you find in the store include the bacterial strains that actually benefit the human body. Beneficial strains of probiotics can flourish in the gut, populating nooks and crannies with microscopic friends that balance the digestive system.

The normal flora, or the collection of microorganisms that live in and on us, is under constant attack — from stress, diet, medications, and more.  

Dr. Neal Smoller

And here’s where the science comes in: Probiotics are not just some mystical potions conjured up by a wandering weirdo. They’re backed by a mountain of research that would make even the most skeptical scientist give a nod of approval. 

Plus, probiotics don’t just start and stop at the gut. They boost the immune system, bolster the brain, and can even have an impact on your mood and mental health.

Probiotic Complete - 60 Capsules

But, just like you wouldn’t trust a self-proclaimed guru peddling miracle cures on a late-night infomercial, you shouldn’t trust any old bacteria claiming to be a probiotic. Make sure you dig deep and find the specific strains proven to have a beneficial effect on humans!

Learn More: Be Proactive: How Can Probiotics Improve Your Health?

Bone Support – AKA Calcium and Vitamin D3

Ah, bone health, the foundation upon which we stand tall and strut our stuff. 

First up for supporting your ever-important skeletal system, we have sunshine in a bottle — Vitamin D. When you bask in the glorious rays of sunlight, they interact with a protein on the skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol (or 7-DHC) and convert it into Vitamin D

It’s like your body’s own little sun-kissed magic trick.

But, you don’t want just any old Vitamin D, you want Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and you want about 1000-2000 IU (International Units) per day.

Learn More: Vitamin D: Sunshine Supplement for Bones, Blood, and The Blues

Vitamin D levels in America are low, on average, compared to the rest of the world.  As we’ve seen with COVID-19, low Vitamin D levels increase our risk for respiratory infections.

Dr. Neal Smoller

Plus, Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium, and everyone knows calcium is good for your bones. This mineral maestro creates the building blocks of your skeleton, laying the foundation for strong and healthy bones.

Calcium isn’t just about building bones, though, it’s also essential for various body functions. It helps with muscle contractions, nerve signaling, and even blood clotting. 

But here’s the twist: your body can’t produce Calcium on its own. You can either take calcium or you can draw calcium from within your body. And most people aren’t getting enough from diet alone. 

Now, you’ll probably hear that you should be taking calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. We disagree. We prefer calcium hydroxyapatite. Why? Because it provides more than just calcium — it includes all the natural nutrients necessary to support the whole bone matrix.

You want to aim for a daily dose of 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium hydroxyapatite.

Learn More: Bone Health: Why We Always Recommend Calcium Hydroxyapatite

Protein, Or More Specifically, Collagen

  • Form: Collagen peptides
  • Critical Components: Grass-fed, bovine source
  • Dose: 10 to 20g per day

Let’s flex those muscles and start digging a little deeper into protein!

Protein supplements are like the muscle-building shortcut, providing you with a concentrated dose of amino acids that your body can readily absorb. It’s like giving your muscles a direct line to the gains department.

Now, when it comes to protein supplements, you’ve got options. It’s like strolling through a buffet of muscle-building goodness, each dish offering its own unique benefits. Let’s break it down, shall we?

First up, we have the classic whey protein, derived from milk. We’ve got plant-based options too, like pea protein, hemp protein, or a blend of various plant sources. They all offer a protein punch that would make Popeye jealous.

But if you, like us, only want the best of the best — then the only real option is collagen protein.

But hey, before you start chugging collagen peptide protein shakes like there’s no tomorrow, remember that balance is key. While supplements can be a fantastic addition to your fitness routine, they shouldn’t overshadow the importance of a well-rounded diet. 

If you want that boost, aim for an extra 10 to 20 grams per day of grass-fed collagen peptides

Learn More: Choosing the Right Protein Supplement: 5 Questions to Ask

Multivitamins (and Minerals)

  • Form: Full-spectrum of micronutrients
  • Critical Components: Combination of vitamins and minerals
  • Dose: Varies for different demographics

Our bodies are like finely tuned machines, and to keep them running smoothly, they need a balanced mix of nutrients. But, despite our best intentions, it’s not always easy to get the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals from our diet alone. Life gets busy, taste buds get picky, and sometimes the salad just doesn’t cut it. 

Enter multivitamins, the all-in-one solution to fill those nutritional gaps and keep you firing on all cylinders.

Now, you might be thinking, “But do multivitamins actually work?” The short answer is yes. Extensive research has delved into the effectiveness of multivitamins, and while the results can vary depending on individual needs and lifestyles, they generally show positive outcomes.

Learn More: Choose the Best Multivitamin Supplement: Dr. Neal’s Do’s and Don’ts

Here’s where it gets a little confusing. Multivitamins come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re marketed to specific demographics and specific needs. Plus, when it comes to dosages, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

Proper dosages can vary depending on age, gender, and more. To determine the right dose for you, consider factors like:

  • Your diet
  • Lifestyle
  • Health concerns or risk factors

And, here’s the most important part: seek guidance from your reliable posse of healthcare experts — physicians, pharmacists, dieticians, or our squad of knowledgeable folks — to pinpoint the ideal dosage tailored to your one-of-a-kind situation.

Learn More: Multivitamin Lineup: Comparing Our Top Multivitamins

Lay the Foundation for a Long, Healthy Life

Finding the right supplements in our cluttered digital world of sales pitches and virtually nonexistent regulations has never been easy. That’s why our whole thing here at Woodstock Vitamins is centered on making it easier.

So, TL;DR: If you’re ready to create a sustainable foundation for your wellness, start with the Vital5. But, remember, the Vital5 is just the first — but still very important — step in your supplement strategy

If you want to lay a solid foundation for overall health that lasts long after you hit your goals, you’ll want to follow a holistic, or whole-body, path. 

Either way, we’re here to help make reaching (and maintaining) your long-term health goals easier to manage. Don’t believe us? Hop on a free Counterside Consult for direct, personalized guidance from a real, human specialist.


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