Caroline Cranshaw: The top supplements you can take for your health

Photo / Getty

Photo / Getty

If you've ever been a client of mine or have more than a five-minute conversation with me, you will know I'm pretty much obsessed with supplements. I have researched and used myself as a guinea pig with supplements most of my life. Now after working with thousands of clients as a health coach helping people overcome their health issues, I have figured out which supplements are truly beneficial and which ones are a waste of money.

Supplements For General Health

• Vitamin D - The deficiency of Vitamin D has substantial medical and psychological consequences. A recent Norwegian study concludes that a normal amount of vitamin D reduces the risk of death by 30 percent in people with cardiovascular disease. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, immune system and muscles, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function.

Vitamin D deficiency weakens the immune system and increases the risk of diabetes type I and 2, cancer and heart disease. Vitamin D affects over 1,000 different genes and is a building block for sex hormones like estrogen, human growth hormone, and testosterone. It boosts immune function and lowers inflammation. It assists in calcium metabolism and bone formation.

Vitamin D activates the genes that release dopamine and serotonin which are chemicals important for preventing depression, ADHD, and addiction. So make sure you get at least 15 - 20 minutes of sun a day or take a vitamin D-3 supplement.

Dosage: Vitamin D 1000ui daily for every 11 kilos or 25 pounds of total body weight so if you weigh 68 kgs, take 6000 ui a day.

People with darker skin don’t convert sunlight into vitamin D as quickly as lighter skinned people. If you’re darker-skinned, a safe bet is 1,500 IU for every 11 kilos or 25 pounds of body weight.

• Vitamin C - is a water-soluble vitamin that works to sustain the health of the body’s connective tissue as well as performing as an antioxidant. Your body does not make vitamin C on its own, and it doesn’t store it. So, it’s essential that you take supplemental vitamin C. The benefits of vitamin C include boosting your immune system, balancing blood sugar, supporting your adrenals, it lowers stress hormones as well as giving you protection against cancer, heart disease, prenatal health issues, eye disease and premature aging.

Vitamin C is needed to convert into several neurotransmitters that, in turn, make up our adrenal and thyroid hormones and neurotransmitters, like dopamine and melatonin. These hormones help to regulate your metabolism, increase focus, and boost your ability to cope with stress, relax and sleep.

Dosage: Vitamin C – 1000 to 2000mgs a day maintenance dose and if ill up to 8000 mg of Vitamin C a day.

If you are a woman, it's important to take vitamin C with bioflavonoids or rosehips, otherwise vitamin C on its own can lower your progesterone levels.

• Magnesium - Magnesium is an important mineral for proper nerve function. It calms the nervous system and helps relieve stress. Deficiency symptoms include anxiety, heart arrhythmias, headaches, restless legs, insomnia, muscle cramps, nausea, and migraines just to name a few. It’s also associated with heart and lung disease, diabetes, asthma and PMS. Magnesium is also essential for normal lung function. It acts as a bronchodilator, which allows for easier breathing.

Almost everyone is deficient in magnesium and due to soil depletion and modern farming practices, it’s nearly impossible to get sufficient magnesium from your diet alone. I believe everyone should supplement with magnesium.

Dosage: Magnesium - 200 mg to 400 mg, 2 times a day, with or without food. I recommend one of the doses before bed to help with sleep.

If you have restless legs, I recommend taking the ionic form of magnesium for the best result. 

Addictions, Anxiety and Energy


• L-Theanine – Is an amino acid found in green tea increases levels of GABA within the brain, increases the production of alpha brainwaves, as well as boosting focus and mental clarity. Study show that l-theanine is useful in the treatment of anxiety due to its ability to calm the nervous system, counteracting the toxic effects of stress as well as improving sleep. I also highly recommend taking a B-Complex for any one with anxiety and depression.

Dosage: 200-400 mg before breakfast and mid-afternoon for anxiety and stress.

B Complex - B vitamins help to calm and regulate the nervous system while decreasing fatigue and stress. B Vitamins are shown to lower the amino acid homocysteine, which increases brain shrinkage and may be a cause of developing Alzheimer’s. It even seems that B vitamins can decrease brain shrinkage by up to 53%, and when combined with Omega-3’s show a 70% decrease in the rate of brain shrinkage. And we all know that shrinkage isn’t good...

Your body uses more B vitamins when you are under stress and they are the building blocks for your neurotransmitters, preventing addictions, depression, anxiety, lack of focus and binge eating. If you take anti-depressants, the pill, or drink alcohol, your b vitamins will be deficient. 

Dosage: B-50 Complex - 1 with breakfast and if deficient or stressed another 1 with lunch. I also recommend taking individual B vitamins that you feel would benefit you the most, but always take a B-complex as well, because they work in conjunction with each other. Also, studies have shown that any long-term use of one B vitamin can cause a deficiency in another. So, I repeat: always take a B-Complex.

• Vitamin B-3 (Niacin or Niacinamide) - I do believe that Vitamin B-3 (Niacin or Niacinamide) is one of the most important supplements you can take when it comes to treating addiction. Niacinamide is amazing for reducing alcohol and nicotine cravings and boosts GABA, a chemical that helps you relax so it’s also good for anxiety. Niacinamide is also one of the best supplements you can take for your skin as it reduces acne, is anti-aging and it lowers your risk of skin cancer.

Vitamin B-3 used to be part of the original Alcoholics Anonymous protocol, and is one of the things that Bill W, cofounder of AA credits with getting and keeping him sober for good.

Dosage: Vitamin B-3 - Niacinamide (the non-flushing form of niacin) 500 mg to 1000 mg with breakfast and lunch.

You can take Niacin (the flushing form of Vitamin B-3) 50 mg with breakfast and lunch, however most people experience a red skin flushing that tingles for about 20 to 30 minutes after.

• Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine): Helps regulate the nervous system and produce the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. B-6 is important for the control of anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability, infertility, PMS and mood swings. B-6 helps to process fats and proteins, helps to control cravings, weight gain and balances hormones. A must for hormonal teenagers, women and anyone trying to get pregnant or on the birth control pill.

Dosage: 50 – 100mg a day of the co-enzyme P5P form of B6 with food a day. 

• B-12 (Cobalmin): B-12 is vital for sustaining energy levels in the body and it's estimated that at least 40% of the population is deficient. B-12 also helps to decrease cellular damage, helps maintain a healthy digestive system, protects against heart disease by decreasing and improving unhealthy cholesterol levels, protecting against high blood pressure and strokes.

It’s essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails. It helps in boosting iron levels, cell generation and the renewal of the skin. B-12 helps protect against cancers including breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer. Smokers, drinkers, and vegetarians tend to be deficient in B-12.

Dosage: 4000-6000 mg a day of the methylcobalamin or hydroxocobalamin form of B-12


Mood Boosters, Focus and Cravings:

• L-Tyrosine - is an amino acid that is the building block for dopamine. It‘s also a precursor to thyroid hormones, so therefore useful to increase low energy levels, boost alertness, as an appetite suppressant, thyroid function and to increase sexual desire. Tyrosine also helps with cigarette, sugar and carb cravings, motivation, mood swings, weight loss, and focus.

Dosage: 1000mg before breakfast and mid-afternoon, empty stomach, no food for 15 minutes after.

L-Phenylalanine - is also a precursor to dopamine as well as many other important neurotransmitters. It’s a natural mood booster and antidepressant, curbs sugar and stimulant cravings, helps in controlling pain, particularly arthritis and is used to help treat Parkinson’s disease. If you are addicted to diet drinks or artificial sweetners, you are probably craving the l-phenylalanine that is added to them to make you feel good.

L-Phenylalanine also helps forms another energizing brain chemical called PEA (phenylethylamine), (also found in chocolate) which is believed to be the chemical most responsible for feelings of euphoria. Yeah baby!

Dosage: 1000mg before breakfast and mid-afternoon, empty stomach, no food for 15 minutes after. (Do not take L-Tyrosine or L-Phenylalanine if you are suffering from high blood pressure, PKU or melanoma.)


Joint Pain:

Now when it comes to joint pain I've tried pretty much every supplement there is. After a head-on car collision and breaking more bones than I can count, I developed arthritis and had chronic pain for years. I tried everything glucosamine, krill oil, green lip muscle extract and too many others to remember. The two supplements that actually worked are:

• 5-Lox Inhibitor with ApresFlex - A type of boswellia extract that is more easily absorbable to effectively reduce inflammation and pain in the body. I take it every day, and if I stop within a week I am back in pain.

Dosage: if you're in chronic pain, take 1 in the morning and 1 at night until out of pain and then 1 before bed as a maintenance dose.

• MSM – is rich in organic sulphur, an important ‘building block’ for healthy bones, tendons, hair, nails, skin and joints, and it’s very beneficial for your immune system. MSM is a must for anyone with arthritis. MSM was the first supplement I ever tried that actually worked for joint pain after years of trying everything else. A friend of mine was taking it who looks around 10 years younger than she actually is. When I asked her what it was, she told me it was amazing for your skin, hair and nails so of course I hopped onto and bought it that day.

The MSM label said joint support, I remember thinking. “Yeah right, that won't work for me.” Within two weeks, I was completely out of pain. I have told more people than I can count about MSM, and they have all said it works miracles. You want to start on a lower dose as MSM also detoxes your body of heavy metals, so if you take too much at the start you can get sick from the toxins your body releases.

Dosage: 1500 mg for 3 days, then 3000 mg a day for 3 days, then 4500 mg a day until pain free, then drop back down to 3000 mg a day for maintenance.



• MagO7 - If you get ever constipated, my favorite supplement ever is MagO7, Oxygenating Digestive System Cleanser by Aerobic Life. Over time undigested food and waste can build up in the intestinal tract and colon, which can be a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Mag O7 Oxygen Cleanse works to break down and remove old debris out of your intestines and bowel. It also targets the harmful bacteria, while magnesium works to soften the intestinal build up and remove unwanted waste.

Dosage: Mag07 - Start with 3 pills at night, and if that doesn’t do trick, try 4 or 5 the next night. You can take it anytime if you are close to a toilet, I personally take 2 or 3 a night as a maintenance dose.


Caroline Cranshaw is a hypnotherapist, founder and trainer at the New Zealand Integrative Hypnotherapy Training Institute and the author of The Smoking Cure. Find out more about her at