Always do your own research and consult a doctor before starting any vitamin routine. I am not a medical professional and I’m only sharing what I do in the hopes that you can settle on a vitamin regimen that works for you. Please note that my preferred brand is Garden of Life because they are appropriate for Vegans and from my own research use high quality ingredients and manufacturing procedures in the US. However, I am not at all affiliated with them. I noted below what I use and what I will buy next, they are all linked, some have been sold out on amazon but are available at other retailers.

You eat healthy foods (mostly), get plenty of sleep (yeah right), and exercise (does walking from the couch to the fridge count?) but you still find yourself catching every bug that your grimy little offspring track into the house. You may need to up your vitamin game. I’m not saying vitamins replace good nutrition, sleep, and moving your body, because they don’t. I am saying that adding vitamins to a wellness routine can bump your health to the next level.

First, throw out the idea of a multivitamin. Often, they don’t contain high enough levels of the key nutrients your body needs and may be adding in ones you don’t need or can’t readily absorb. I have always struggled with multivitamins (they turn my pee all sorts of fun colors though!). No matter how I take them they often make me feel nauseous or irritate my stomach. But, I have always wanted to fill the gaps in my nutrition for those days when I just feel too tired or busy to eat my recommended servings of fruits and veggies. On top of not always eating perfectly, there are some vitamins that are hard to get even with a healthy diet (like vitamins D and B12). Multivitamins are a one size fits all solution that really doesn’t fit all. I’d rather diversify and use supplements that actually work for me.

Since having kids, I’ve caught all the bugs from slight colds (at least they seemed that way when the kids had them) to the dreaded stomach flu. This past year I got really serious about my fitness and slowly began adding supplements. It has taken me years of trial and error to come up with a routine that works for me. This year, my children and husband have never caught so many colds and flus, but I’ve stayed the healthiest of my life (I’ll add that my husband refuses to take supplements and no amount of them seem to keep the kids germ free). I’m going to share what I take and why. Hopefully, it helps you figure out a mix that works for you too.

Vitamin C: This is the first vitamin I have ever noticed to actually make a real difference in my health. Surprisingly, I don’t think I had ever taken a serious vitamin C supplement in any consistency before I started taking a full dose of C a few months ago. I started with half a dose and increased it when I started seeing benefits and settled at 500 mgs. Some people take mega doses in the thousand mg ranges. Personally, I think vitamins are like anything else and you should use them in moderation. You can’t really overdose on C (though you might get a major dose of tummy upset at really high levels), but I still think it’s prudent to reserve high doses for when you’re trying to fight off an illness. But that’s just my two cents. The benefits of Vitamin C range from improved gum health to immunity boosting to antiviral properties. Basically it helps your body fight all the things. If I had to recommend any one vitamin supplement this would be it. What I take: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw C, 500 mgs. (This currently seems to be unavailable but I will update you with what I find as a replacement. In the meantime, google this to find any available retailers, it shouldn’t be more than $15 for 60 capsules.)

Collagen Builder: Collagen is hot right now but did you know that your body doesn’t actually absorb it but rather produces it. So while taking collagen may have other benefits (it is full of vitamins), it will not make you produce more collagen. Your body does that itself. The best way to boost your natural collagen is to feed your body the right vitamins. I personally try to avoid anything made from animal products because I’m allergic to beef and it’s just easier to take vegetarian or vegan supplements. So, collagen wasn’t an option for me anyway. That said, at 36, I still struggle with acne. Though, my hormones still wreak havoc on my skin from time to time, this plus vitamin C has made a huge difference in clearing up my skin. What I take: Garden of Life My Kind Collagen Builder

Vitamin D: I’ll admit, I’m not as consistent on this one but they say it’s a good vitamin to take especially in the winter, sun deprived months. Vitamin D also boosts immunity and strengthens your whole immune system. It also has some mental health benefits and can guard you against depression especially that caused by seasonal blues. Many Americans are deficient in vitamin D and it is very hard to take too much (we’re talking 60,000 IUs for several months). What I just ordered: Garden of Life My Kind Vegan D3 chewable (it doesn’t taste great but it’s vegan, if you don’t need vegan, go for Vitamin Code Raw D in 2000 or 5000 IU)

Vitamin B: I’ve been (inconsistently) taking a B complex vitamin. I don’t love it. Your body does not absorb B2 (Riboflavin) well and can turn your pee all sorts of interesting colors. It also turns out you don’t need high levels of B2. So, I’m switching over to just B12 which is very hard for us to get just from food especially if you eat low (or no) meat diets. Folate (or methylfolate if you have the MThFR gene mutation) is also a good one to take. Note that many people cannot convert the synthetic folic acid into bioavailable folate so I always recommend avoiding folic acid (which can build up in the body if you are unable to convert it and cause all sorts of adverse effects). If you take a multi vitamin always try to find one with folate NOT folic acid. What I take: Garden of Life Vitamin Code B complex; what I’m switching to: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw B12 and Solgar 1000 Folate

Zinc: Supposed to be an immune booster, I occasionally add it into the mix. I haven’t noticed a big difference when I take it or don’t. But, it is supposed to have a lot of benefits to help keep your body healthy and help it fight bacteria and viruses. Since it’s not recommended for long term daily use, I only take it on occasion or when I’m sick. You can overdose on this vitamin so make sure you research it before adding it to the mix! What I take: Pure Encapsulation Zinc 30 (no longer available on amazon); What I will buy next: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc

Other supplements I take daily:

Probiotics: Smarty Pants

Immune Booster: Zarbees Elderberry Immune Support If sold out it may be in stock at your local Target. NOTE: do not mix this with a zinc supplement as this also has zinc in it. Always check the supplements that you take to make sure you are not overdosing on vitamins that have toxicity levels.

When in doubt, there is not much better for your mind and soul than sunshine and a little movement. Don’t forget that no supplement is a replacement for healthy habits! Jumpsuit: c/o Synergy Clothing (check out their spring line for eco and quarantine friendly clothing!)

There is never anytime better than the present to make changes for your health. I have been really pleased with the positive changes in my energy levels, skin and hair health, and strengthened immune system. There is no substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. But, we can all use a little help sometimes and that’s what my vitamin regimen is giving me. Hope you find health and sanity in this crazy (toilet paper hoarding) time.

Edited to add: it seems remiss to post this without mentioning the current health crisis. I wrote this post before things exploded in the USA regarding the Coronavirus. I do not believe vitamins will prevent you from getting the virus, however, it never hurts to boost your immune system and each supplement I take plays a part in doing just that. Do not panic. Exercise, eat healthy, and pray for all those sick and suffering in the world. Hold your loved ones tight and just hang on- we will make it through!