If you have limited funds and cannot afford to spend hundreds on supplements every month, which one or ones should you buy to get the biggest bang for your buck? It is much more important to spend your money on the healthiest food then to buy any supplements. So assuming you are already doing that, then the least below is in descending order. Another words, if you can only buy one supplement then start with number 1 and keep adding the supplements until you can afford all.
1. Digestive enzymes with probiotics - enzymes are catalysts to digestion. They help break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins along the digestive tract to be absorbed into the bloodstream for use in various bodily functions. If you don't make enough digestive enzymes, you will have many of the following symptoms: bloating, gas, indigestion, diarrhea, and pain. The main digestive enzymes are amylase (breaks down carbohydrates), protease (breaks down protein), and lipase (breaks down fats). Unless you consume a large amount of raw foods, you are probably not getting enough enzymes. Foods high in enzymes include fresh papayas, bananas, avocados, and pineapples. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria in your intestines. Many times we become ill due to the overpopulation of bad bacteria in our intestines. Some of these bad guys include staphylococci, salmonella, and camphylobacteria. Populating your intestines with probiotics will promote healthy intestinal flora. Probiotics will kill these bad guys or at least out-number them. It is especially important to take a probiotic supplement if you are taking antibiotics since antibiotics will kill off ALL bacteria in your intestines, good and bad. This is a common reason women get yeast infections while taking antibiotics. Common probiotics include bifidobacterium bifidum and lactobacillus acidophilus. Many of us don't eat the fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt (plain), and miso to get enough probiotics. Also as we get older, digestive enzymes and probiotics decrease. Digestive enzymes and probiotics can be purchased together or separately. Without sufficient digestive enzymes, the nutrients from foods and other supplements will not be completely digested. Without enough probiotics in your intestines, you resistance to illness and infections will be lower. For more on probiotics see my posting Benefits of Probiotics.
2. Multi-vitamin with minerals - this is to cover all the bases. One that is make from whole foods like Alive is preferable. Vitamins and minerals work in synergy meaning that many will not be absorbed without several of the others. For instance taking calcium alone won't work as well as taking calcium with magnesium and Vitamin D. Make sure your vitamin has a balanced Vitamin B amounts (at least 25 mg each) and the d-alpha (not dl-alpha which is synthetic) form of Vitamin E. Cheaper vitamins will not have sufficient B vitamins or the natural form of vitamin E. You get what you pay for in multi-vitamins. Note: Do not buy with iron unless you are a menstruating woman. Men, menopausal women, and children do not need added iron.
3. Vitamin C - there are such small amounts of Vitamin C in multi-vitamins, it is wise to add more of this incredible supplement. Besides being an anti-oxidant, it is required in over 300 hundred metabolic functions (that we know of) in the body including tissue growth and repair, healthy gums, and adrenal gland function. It has been shown to reduce the length and severity of the common cold but not the number of colds someone gets in a year. Besides enhancing immunity, Vitamin C also prevents cancer, reduces symptoms of asthma, protects against harmful pollutants, and is anti-aging (builds collagen). When purchasing Vitamin C, Ester C is preferable especially if you have a sensitive stomach. Bioflavonoids are essential for the absorption of Vitamin C, so make sure it comes with them.