Are Vitamins The New Magic Bullet?

7 Ways to Know If Nutritional Supplements Are Right for You

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Do you pop vitamins or supplements like they are pills? In today’s society, whenever we are sick or have some discomfort, we are told to pop a pill. I was again reminded of this when someone recently said that I had forgotten to mention a vitamin that another expert recommended as a “cure.” (By the way, I am certain that the word “cure” was not the term this expert used.) This is a prime example of someone who is looking for a magic bullet.

Don’t get me wrong. Taking nutritional supplements can contribute greatly to your health when you use them properly and for the right reasons. But, whenever we imbue a single therapy — whether it’s a drug, a diet plan, an exercise routine, a vitamin, or anything else — with the power to fix what ails us, we have a problem. This is no different from the allopathic approach, which while necessary sometimes, such as when you are in extreme pain, is rarely a sufficient way to create true health and healing.

7 Ways to Know If Nutritional Supplements Are Right for You

During my years of practicing medicine, and now through my books, lectures and website, I teach women (and men) about all the different ways they can become healthier. And, I have recommended supplements as a way to give your body the support it needs.

However, there is never one magic bullet that works for everyone. The reason for this is simple: We are all different. The good news is, when your body needs support, there are ways you can determine if a vitamin (or diet, or other therapy) is right for you. 

Here are 7 ways to tell if a vitamin (or other therapy) is right for you:

  • Do Your Research. If you are considering using a supplement or any therapy, research it thoroughly to determine the benefits and whether it is suitable for your condition, especially if you are pregnant, take prescription medications, or have an illness. Be sure to read labels for ingredients, and research the company’s manufacturing standards as well.

  • Trust Your Intuition. Believe it or not, you know what will work for you and what won’t.  You just need to trust your intuition. You can tune into your body’s intuition by sitting quietly and listening to its signals. You can also ask your body to tell you what it needs. You may hear a response immediately, or you may get signals later on. A friend of mine told me that a medium recommended she take several supplements. She began taking one at a time and when it came time to add one particular supplement, my friend could not get the bottle open no matter how hard she tried! She realized that this was a sign that, even though it was recommended by a trusted source, the supplement was not right for her.

  • Try the Sway Test. If you are considering taking a medication, a supplement or even trying a new diet plan, you can do the sway test. Simply hold the item in your hand (or state your intended plan, such as “I intend to eat more healthy fats”) and close your eyes. Then, say something like “my supplement (fill in the name here) is good for me,” or “my intent to add more healthy fat to my diet is good for me.” Wait and feel which direction your body sways.  If it sways forward, that is a positive indication that the supplement or plan will be beneficial.  If you sway backwards, that is an indication that the therapy may not be right for you at this particular time. If your body stays centered without moving forward or backward, it means that the particular therapy is neutral for you right now. You can also use the sway test to determine how many times per day you should take a supplement.

  • Use Muscle Testing. Muscle testing is similar to the sway test, but you will need a partner to help you. Extend one arm at shoulder level. Then have your partner push down on that wrist to get a baseline for where your arm moves. Then retest while holding the remedy in question. Notice if you are able to continue to hold your arm up. If you are able to keep your arm extended, then that remedy is likely a good one for you. If your arm falls below your baseline, the remedy does not match your needs (some people teach muscle testing using your own hands and fingers. I have never been able to get this to work for me. My intellect overrides this every time).

  • Take the Supplement. Of course, the easiest way to determine if a supplement will work for you is to try it for 7-10 days. Use only one supplement at a time, and monitor your results. Write down how you feel after you take it, as well as, how you feel over time. If you have any additional symptoms that arise, be sure to write them down. They may be due to your body releasing toxins, or they could mean that the supplement is not working for you.

  • Address your emotions. While the underlying cause of a condition may be a virus, bacteria or even an injury, there are always emotional triggers at play. For example, the reason a virus becomes activated may be due to stress, anger, resentment or other hidden emotions. Once you identify the emotions associated with your condition, ask your body if the supplement you are considering will support you in releasing the emotions and healing your condition at its source.

  • Meditate on it. Meditation is a great way to receive guidance from the Divine part of yourself. You can ask for guidance about anything, including whether you should take a medication or supplement. 

My Current Vitamins and Supplements Routine

I’m very healthy and stable. When it comes to supplements, I am not seeking a magic bullet for anything, but rather support for my long term health. As such, I take a number of supplements to support my body’s specific needs. I continue to try different things just to see what happens and if I can improve on the health benefits I am already receiving.

My supplement use has evolved over time and will continue to evolve, as my specific needs change. Right now I take a Vitamin D supplement (5,000 IU/day).  In the summer I bank Vitamin D by getting out in the sun as much as I can. But, I live in Maine, so I take a Vitamin D supplement to enhance my immune system and keep my blood levels where they should be all year round.

In addition, every day I take a pharmaceutical grade vitamin and mineral combination that is loaded with antioxidants. I have done this twice per day regularly for about 15 years! I also take a joint supplement formula that is loaded with curcumin to help with the pain of my frozen shoulders, which aren’t really frozen, but still hurt when I move in certain ways. I am improving steadily. I will stay on this another month or so, then cut way back.

Pretty much everyone needs more magnesium in their diet. I take a highly absorbable magnesium and a mineral formula by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. I do this first thing in the morning with water and some Himalayan sea salt and a little apple cider vinegar for taste.

I am also working with Sandra Chiu, an acupuncturist in Brooklyn, who formulates Chinese herbs specifically for me to increase my yin energy and decrease dampness (which in Chinese medicine is associated with weak spleen energy.) I take two packets per day. The herbs change monthly as my constitution changes. 

Finally, I recently began daily coffee enemas. Dr. Kelly Brogan, author of A Mind of Your Own and creator of the Vital Mind Reset program, suggested them as an excellent liver tonic. I haven’t noticed any difference yet.  But, I plan to give it another couple weeks.

Learning to trust your body’s capacity to heal is a journey. Whether you choose to use supplements (or other therapies) is a personal choice. And, when you do so with integrity versus just popping another pill, you can receive many health benefits, and a renewed sense of connection to yourself.

Do you take supplements? If so, I would love to know how you use them and what benefits you receive.


Last Updated: July 25, 2017

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


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  1. Jai Massie
    1 year ago

    Nice Blog!! The content you have shared is very elaborative and informative. Thanks a lot for sharing such a great piece of knowledge with us.

  2. Jacqueline Butler
    2 years ago

    Can anyone recommend your favorite or best vitamin/supplment brand? Thanks!

  3. Pirjo
    3 years ago

    I really liked the sway test and I tried it this morning for different things. First with my multivitamin drink (Daily Biobasics from Lifeplus) and the answer was a definite Yes. Then with cookies: NO! Coffee: NO, washing powder:NO. Lemon and plum: YES, and so on. Then I thought that I need to eliminate my conscious mind from affecting which way I sway. Afterall its obvious that washing powder is not what my body needs. I tried with dog food thinking that it is definitely good fo me, it is organic, lots of meat and vegetables and vitamins. Saying YES in my mind trying to convince my body I did the sway test, but my body was not fooled. It definitely said NO to dog food. I keep this my measuring tool when I decide what to take as supplements. And besides I think it will work in many other areas as well. Thank you for sharing Dr Northrup

  4. Donna
    3 years ago

    Dr. Northrup, as with many others asking this question on the forum, would you kindly tell us the pharmaceutical grad vitamin and mineral supplements you take? It’d really be helpful

    1. Shirl Roccapriore
      2 years ago

      I too, would like to know the answer to this as well. Thank you!

  5. Jeanne Smith
    3 years ago

    I do not take any supplements but I do drink nourishing herbal infusions daily. I love linden flower infusion because it is delightful. I also love nettle infusion because I find it gives me lots of energy and it tastes like green tea. I also drink chickweed, red clover, and comfrey leaf infusions. I find that they give me just what my body needs.

  6. Anna
    3 years ago

    Mine are supervised by a naturopath and have served me well for decades. I definitely feel more youthful than I did when in my teens and twenties and am now 54. So, although they change occasionally, my regimen involves Vitamins C, B Complex, magnesium, selenium, NAC (for liver support), I3C for reduction of breast cancer risk, zinc, an osteo mineral supplement, Amata (from your company, Dr. Northrup), adrenal support supplement, kelp, and garlic tabs. Through Spring and Summer I take Milk Thistle combination for the liver, and kidney essence through much of Autumn and Winter. All this is great, but without a healthful diet based on whole foods, I am not meeting my potential. Add exercise and decent sleep patterns, and my health is pretty solid and stable.

    1. Christiane Northrup
      3 years ago

      This is a very solid and well thought out regimen. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Rosemary
    3 years ago

    Hi regarding muscle testing with your fingers. You need to establish a yes and a no.
    First make a circle with the tip of your thumb and first finger.
    With the first finger of your other hand put it inside the circle and pull it through where the gap would be between your fingers.
    Now you need to establish that yes and no.
    Using the above method say aloud yes yes yes while you are doing this pull your finger through it will either go through easily or you will not be able to do it.
    Repeat the same with no no no. It should come out the opposite of yes.
    Now you have established a yes and no you can ask all sorts of questions and get a yes and no answer to them.
    I also use it to ask about books and courses I might do by saying on a scale of one to ten how useful will this book/course be for me then start to muscle test from one up to ten.
    This is a very powerful tool to have in your life, if in doubt muscle test. Lol

    1. Pamela LaPointe
      3 years ago

      Just tried this! Very cool, thank you.

    2. Christiane Northrup
      3 years ago

      Thanks so much for this. I just can never get this to work for me. I have a strong intellect that over powers this every time. So I use tarot cards!!!

    3. Donna
      3 years ago

      Rosemary, I’m a visual person. Is there a name for this routine? Can I see this done on Youtube, once I get the name of it?

      1. Donna
        3 years ago

        I found it on youtube and tried it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me.

  8. Cindy, RN
    3 years ago

    Hmmm. You forgot to tell people that only Vitamin D3 is truly helpful. The synthetic D2 is way less effective. Also, did you tell people about the study showing that less than 10% of synthetic vitamins are absorbed, therefore we should only be taking whole food vitamins?

  9. Anne
    3 years ago

    Coffee Enemas bring me such great peace. Truly, if I’m feeling off, this is a wonderful solution for me. Thanks for all your great tips, Dr. N.

    1. Christiane Northrup
      3 years ago

      Oh thank you so much for telling us!! Always builds faith!!

  10. Patricia Barrett
    3 years ago


    It would be very helpful if, when you are discussing intake (vitamins, liquids, etc), that you state how much….i.e. for vitamin D, 1,000 milligrams per day? 2,000 milligrams per day? In the morning? At night? Simply suggesting that your audience “take” something without being specific about the amount is not being very helpful.

    1. Teresa
      3 years ago

      She states in her article 5000 iu of vitamin D per day.

    2. Shar Martorana
      3 years ago

      She stated in the article that she takes 5,000 iu of vitamin d per day. What I took from the article was to investigate what supplements or vitamins would pertain to your particular condition you were wanting to address. I assumed that she was only giving examples of what she felt she needed.

    3. Christiane Northrup
      3 years ago

      Dosages vary. I have listed in suggested ranges in all my books. And also in other blogs.

  11. Deborah
    3 years ago

    Hi! What is the joint supplement formula you take? Also do you take your own Amaya Life supplements?

    1. Christiane Northrup
      3 years ago

      I take Procosa from USANA ( is an a distributor and you can order from this website or online. Do NOT order from Amazon.. these are NOT the same thing. It’s a scam. And yes.. I take my own Amata supplement.,

  12. Sharon
    3 years ago

    Dr. Northrup — what brand of supplements do you recommend for your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants?

  13. Vicky
    3 years ago

    I am a very healthy 72 year old woman. I have consistently taken supplements since my early 30’s. I take a lot of them every morning and every night before I go to bed. I believe that this is one of the main reasons I am so healthy. I am going to try your sway test to make sure that all the ones I take are good for me.

  14. Linda Collins Thomas
    3 years ago

    I’m 77, in very good health, and take supplements since my 30’s. My approach would include Research and How I Feel. Today, I would add Lab Work (blood and urine, saliva,) from a Functional or Integrative health professional who knows how to interpret well. The other items listed would, for me, bring different results on different days, the weather, life happenings out of my control, and such, so I don’t put much stock in them as reliable indicators. Although, as a psychotherapist, I must add that doing our emotional wellness work is super important. In that vein, I would say Believing in Yourself and valuing your Creativity is of paramount importance as your “best friends”.

    In my 30’s, thanks to Adele Davis, I had a daily drink that blended Brewer’s Forte Yeast with Lecithin to keep my arteries in good shape and have great energy. I also took COQ10 for gum health, as I began replacing mercury fillings, and read, through biological dentistry publications, that the Japanese have used this substance for gum and mouth health for ages.
    Different plans for supplements are needed for different ages and life stages.

    After menopause, I began Vitamin D3, along with some form of K, magnesium, Omega 3 fatty acids, I also added L-Arginine for continued artery health and happy blood pressure, a great probiotic and digestive enzymes. I also drink Bone Broth with collagen daily and have lemon/water/seasalt each morning. My salad dressing is always good olive oil and apply cider vinegar. So far, so good!

  15. Nicole
    3 years ago

    Namaste Dr Northrop,
    I am interested in the pharmaceutical grade vit/mineral combo, might you pass along the name please
    Thank you for sharing this information
    I have been following you for years and your input has been a wonderful addition to my health and wellness
    Best nicole

  16. Lucy
    3 years ago

    I take a whole food supplement, a daily vitamin that is mainly formulated from food sources, CoQ10, vitamin D, a leg vein supplement (Hawthorne), an anti-inflammatory for my shoulders and arthritis (black pepper, curcumin, Boswelia) and using intuition the following on an as needed basis, dandelion, burdock, oregano oil, avocado oil, tart cherry (if I eat a lot of seafood to combat gout – I live in MD and it’s crab season), cranberry, garlic, ginger (upset stomach or I feel a cold coming on) and magnesium (let my bowels guide me).

    I have not taken a chemically formulated pill in over 5 years. I never get the flu, haven’t had a real cold in 5 years, never use antacids, use extra of my anti-inflammatory for aches and pains and of course essential oils. I make all of my body butters, facial creams, etc.

    Thank you for sharing your routine, I feel better knowing that you follow a similar plan.

  17. Deb
    3 years ago

    Hi Christine, I have had both shoulders frozen some years ago and still get problems and pain from this. I take turmeric which I encapsulate myself, it has helped me stay off the painkillers and anti inflammatories. I also take ginger, liquorice and turmeric in a teabag which I buy from a store. It’s an acquired taste! Thank you for the blog.

  18. Rebecca
    3 years ago

    I’m finding Formula 33 helpful for calming stress and anxiety symptoms plus it’s a muscle relaxant. Of course addressing causes of stress is important too. A good probiotic had also helped me feel MUCH better. I’m also doing the Heavy Metal Detox outlined by Anthony William
    And I wouldn’t be without the B12 he reccomends from Global Healing Center.

    1. Anne
      3 years ago

      Rebecca, could you share the brand of probiotic you like? Thanks!

    2. Donna Morabito
      2 years ago

      Could you please explain what Formula 33 is?

  19. Sandra
    3 years ago

    Dr Northrop, I love reading your blogs, books and watching your informative clips. I would like to know what brand of multivitamin you take. I am a nurse and have concern on which ones are really the best. I am also a follower of Dr. dean and take her magnesium. I have a fib and took myself off the poison medications and feel the magnesium is what has kept me a fib free for over a year now. I did have three ablations, lost a lot of weight and lowered my stress level. I remain on xarelto and it has caused me to lose half of my hair. Do you have any recommendations to help me with that issue? Thank you for all of your helpful information. Sandi

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