Supplements: Types, Tips & Tricks

Most of us have some sort of supplement routine in place, and here are a few rules and suggestions that are good to be aware of if you’re looking to refine your routine.
16 Jan 2022
Words by: Christina Ko

Audit Annually

As with any long-term practice, it’s good to do an audit every now and then to refine your needs. After all, your diet and lifestyle change constantly, so your needs and deficiencies will, too. As you age, your needs will also change. How will you know what supplements are necessary for your personal best health? Don’t count on information you find on the internet – work with a holistic medicine practice and try a methodology like bioresonance, which will tell you what your body is lacking at that moment, and just how much to take of each supplement type.

Brands Matter

You can head to iHerb for most of your supplement needs, but it’s also important to note that not all supplements are created equal. Some brands have higher quality diffusion lines that are available only through doctors, and in general, quality comes as a price.

Besides trying different brands to see which best suit your body, there is also an optimum quantity for each type of supplement – go overboard and you might stop reaping benefits. Dosage calculations are often quite general, and your body is usually the best barometer.

Food First

In the battle of food versus capsule supplements, food always wins. Your body was designed to digest food, so absorption is generally better if you’re getting your vitamins from sources in your day-to-day diet. In the event that you do need to pop pills (and certainly, there are few of us who have a truly complete diet these days, so there is no shame in that), make sure your body is taking it in a form that it can actually absorb. For example, calcium is best paired with vitamin D3, while one study suggests that black pepper can increase your body’s absorption of anti-inflammatory curcurmin.

Artful still life photo of groceries and raw produce, including a head of cabbage, celery stalks, heads of cauliflowers, carrots, some grapefruits and a lime
Photographs by Ron Lach
Bedside stand with a stack of books and a Charlie bell alarm clock, early morning or evening, casting a shadow on the wall, mustard headboard

Time of Day

Yes, it’s a little bit of an annoyance to have to think about supplements more than once a day, but there are certainly optimal times for your body to take ingestibles. Some need to be taken on an empty stomach, others with food. Your digestive system slows at night, so certain supplements can be wasted if your body isn’t working to absorb them in the evening – others are best taken before bed. Create a timetable, get yourself a portable pill box, and follow as best you can.

Find Your Function

Of course, a nutritionist can help you determine which supplements are best for your body, but knowing what your personal priorities are can also play a part. Besides day-to-day health maintenance, what are your goals? With the onset of the pandemic, immunity supplements became a prime concern. In January, weight loss is often a hot topic. And in busy urban environments such as Hong Kong, known for long hours and lack of work-life balance, sleep is often elusive. Decide what your own lifestyle needs are and reorient your routine accordingly.

Macro shot of different types of pills and supplements in all different shapes, sizes and colorst
Photograph by Brian Hagiwara

Here’s a quick cheat sheet to some of the supplements we recommend for various needs:

Immunity Boosters

Vitamin C and zinc top most lists for those looking to rev up their immunity response to fight off infections. Also consider adding vitamin D, B6 and E, as well as anything rich in antioxidants, such as mushroom extract.

Work Hard, Play Hard

When you’re living life to its fullest, your system can get stressed out, and this is as much a physical response as a mental and emotional one. Let your body regulate itself with supplements of L-theanine – green tea and matcha are a great source of this, that will give you energy during the day but bring you down gently when you need to rest. Vitamin B complex is also ideal, as well as ashwagandha or rhodiola. CBD has also been touted as great for regulating the body’s endocannabinoid system to relieve stress and anxiety symptoms. If you consume alcohol often, curcurmin relieves hangover symptoms, while milk thistle restores liver function.

Super Skin

Skin health is closely connected to gut health, so often, the best supplements depend on your unique needs, but a daily dose of collagen is fairly one-size-fits-all. Go for marine collagen, as opposed to bovine, which tends to supplement bone health. If you look at the skin supplements offered by luxury beauty brands, they tend to be packed with superfood ingredients along with the likes of probiotics, omegas, zinc and biotin, as well as cleansing “agents” that support detoxification from free radicals and blue-light damage that contribute to pre-ageing. If you’re looking for skin-related supplements, this is the easiest to fulfill, as plenty of beauty brands offer cocktails ranging from pill form to smoothie mix-ins.

Female hands holding a glass of green smoothie with eco-friendly reusable metallic straw
Photograph by Victoria Alexandrova

Weight Management & Gut Health

It’s not cheating to boost your body’s performance via supplements in order to lose weight and build muscle – in fact, it would be silly to go on a diet and not maximise its effects with ingestible additions. Often, getting healthy isn’t so much about removing things from your diet as adding more nutrients to boost performance. For example, adding a green juice to your mornings will go a long way. Probiotics will boost your digestive system, or you can eat more fermented foods such as kimchi or pickles. Note that with probiotics, we recommend trying several different brands before committing to the one that’s best for you. Fish oil capsules help lube up the system and reduce inflammation.


To sleep, perchance to dream! Sleep is one of those pesky things that should come naturally, but often doesn’t, and the world knows this well – there are supplements galore, whether it is bedtime teas filled with lavender, chamomile, valerian, CBD and more, or melatonin supplements that lull you into slumber. It’s also essential to note that instead of revving up in the day and pulling the brakes in the evening, try cutting caffeine intake – even in the late morning or early afternoon – or exercising too late and pumping adrenaline through the system. Supplement your supplements with meditation or yin yoga and set the scene for a good night’s rest.