A balanced diet can help us obtain many essential nutrients. But even health-conscious eaters may get less nourishment than they think. Farming practices often deplete soil of nutrients, and our bodies’ needs change with age and stress levels.

While they don’t compensate for an inadequate diet, supplements can fill in gaps. I suggest that everyone take a multivitamin, calcium, and folic acid (B complex) supplements, and vitamins D and E. Generics are generally equivalent to more costly name brands, so choose a price range that suits your wallet. Look for the USP designation-which means the product is safe, pure, and potent. Here are some products I like. 

Supplement: Multivitamin
Ingredients to look for: A combo. Men and postmenopausal women: Choose under 8 mg of iron to cut heart-disease risk.
Body functions it supports: Helps build tissue and maintain metabolic functioning
Symptoms if deficient: General malaise and fatigue
Daily Dose: Varied
Brand I Like: Walgreens A thru Z
Price: $6.99/100 tablets

Supplement: Calcium
Ingredients to look for: Calcium (avoid bonemeal, dolomite and shell sources, which may contain metals) with vitamin D
Body functions it supports: Guards against osteoporosis; builds and maintains bones and teeth; assists with metabolic functions
Symptoms if deficient: Growth deficiency, osteoporosis
Daily Dose: 1,200 mg
Brand I Like: Citracal
Price:  $7.90/60 tablets

Supplement : Folic Acid (B Complex)
Ingredients to look for: Folic acid, folate or folacin
Body functions it supports: Helps form hemoglobin and prevent birth defects; may reduce risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke
Symptoms if deficient: Anemia, birth defects
Daily Dose: 400 mcg
Brand I Like: CVS B complex with B12 and B6
Price: $6.99/100 tablets

Supplement:Vitamin D
Ingredients to look for: Calcitrol
Body functions it supports: Builds and maintains bone tissue; helps treat osteoporosis
Symptoms if deficient: Malformation of skeletal tissue, osteoporosis
Daily Dose: 400 IU
Brand I Like: Nature’s Bounty
Price: $4.39/100 tablets

Supplement: Vitamin E
Ingredients to look for: Alpha tocopherol
Body functions it supports: A strong antioxidant that prevents tissue breakdown
Symptoms if deficient: Damaged red blood cells, muscle tissue breakdown
Daily Dose: 400 IU
Brand I Like: Nature Made
Price: $6.56/100 tablets