Top 7 Supplements to Keep You Writing Well

Filed in The Healthy Writer by on August 18, 2015 • views: 2526

Writers (particularly full-time ones, or ones that write and have a desk job) live under a certain set of conditions that can lead to health problems down the road if they’re not careful.

There are the hours spent sitting in front of the computer, the constant strain on the eyes, and the sometimes overwhelming task of keeping up with everything a writer has to do these days. There’s the emotional ups and downs, too, and the inevitable stress that comes with showing others your work and dealing with the consequences.

As a health writer, I’m well aware of the challenges we face, but I also have the inside scoop of what sort of supplements can help us face them. I’m constantly reading up on new studies that provide insights into which supplements can be really helpful and which are still questionable as far as their benefits are concerned.

While it’s always best to get our nutrients from healthy food, it can be difficult to keep up with what we need through diet alone. A healthy diet is key, but then a few supplements in addition to that can help keep you in tip-top shape so you can persevere in your writing projects without health problems to derail you.

With what we know so far, here are my top seven recommended supplements for writers.

1. Vitamin D

According to a 2008 study, vitamin D deficiency is now “recognized as a pandemic.” Researchers state that the major cause “is the lack of appreciation that sun exposure in moderation is the major source of vitamin D for most humans. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and foods that are fortified with vitamin D are often inadequate to satisfy either a child’s or an adult’s vitamin D requirement.”

Low levels of vitamin D put you at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. If you’re the type of writer who spends most of her day inside (like many of us are), get outside more often, and take a daily supplement of 600-800 IUs.

2. CoQ10

I was running ragged recently. Even with a good night’s sleep, I couldn’t seem to keep my energy up. My mom asked me if I was taking my CoQ10. I recommended the supplement to her years ago and she raved about how much it helped restore her energy—and lower her blood pressure levels.

I thanked her for giving my own advice back to me and promptly went out and bought the most effective kind—Ubiquinol. (It’s better absorbed in the body.)

CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance produced in the body and involved in just about every cellular function, but most importantly, in producing energy, maintaining heart health, and protecting cells from damaging free radicals. We naturally produce less of it as we age, and can be robbed of more if we’re taking statin drugs, diuretics, some antidepressants, beta blockers, and even acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Studies have found that CoQ10 can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, protect the heart, reduce blood sugar, and even reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. For writers running ragged, it can also help restore energy, as it boosts the ability of cells to produce energy. Take between 100 and 20o mg of ubiquinol with a meal containing fat for best absorption.

3. B Vitamins

B vitamins are critical for maintaining energy, reducing stress, keeping your joints healthy, keeping depression at bay, supporting a healthy memory, and maintaining sharp thinking. Though you can get enough from a healthy diet, you typically need animal products (meat and dairy).

Vegetarians and vegans should strongly consider a B complex supplement, as should those on birth control pills, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (like aspirin and ibuprofen), and antibiotics, as these all rob the body of vitamin B.

Keep in mind, too, that alcohol, refined sugars, and stress can also deplete vitamin B levels. Choose a quality B complex vitamin supplement.

4. Fish Oil

The jury is still out on whether fish oil helps protect the heart. It’s also been linked with improved memory, reduced risk of dementia, bone health support, and healthy cholesterol, but studies are mixed.

One thing we do know—fish oil benefits the skin. Particularly if you have eczema or psoriasis, the omega-3 fattay acids in fish oil can help. Since you’re exposed the computer for hours (which may affect your skin—see the post on what your computer may be doing to your face), a good omega-3 supplement can help you avoid signs of premature aging.

It’s also been shown to support levels of serotonin—the “feel good” neurotransmitter in the brain—which could help you reduce stress and avoid depression.

Even more exciting—omega-3s have been found to help keep eye membranes functioning normally, and even to stimulate tear production, which is helpful for dry eyes (something suffered by many writers).

A 2013 study, for example, found that daily consumption of omega-3s decreased the rate of tear evaporation, increased tear secretion, and improved dry eye symptoms.

5. Magnesium

This mineral is important for a healthy heart, muscles, and kidneys, as well as teeth and bones. It contributes to energy production, and works to improve the function of other nutrients in the body, like zinc, potassium, and vitamin D.

For writers, though, the important thing is that it helps reduce the risk of depression, and can keep your digestive system happy. All those hours of sitting can “back you up,” so to speak, so in addition to getting in (at least) a walk every day, taking a magnesium supplement can help keep things moving.

As far as your mood goes, one study found that magnesium was just as effective as antidepressants in treating depression. It can help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia, which many writers suffer from, as well as migraine headaches and restless leg syndrome.

It also improves sleep and according to one study, may even help you live longer. Take between 300 and 400 mg daily.

6. Phosphatidyl Serine

This is a relatively new kid on the supplement block, but I find it very interesting in terms of how it may help support brain health.

We all need to keep our brains sharp to keep track of all those characters, and this supplement may help. The brain requires it to manufacture memory-related neurotransmitters and functional lipids. We produce it in the body, but as is often the case, we produce less as we age.

That means that the brain can become less flexible, and more vulnerable to stress and damage. Early studies have found that phosphatidyl serine can help improve mental functioning.

A 2010 study, for example, showed that it improved memory scores, and other studies have found that it alleviates stress and anxiety, and even benefits children with attention, learning, and behavioral problems.

Try 100 mg three times a day (with meals) for a few weeks, and then you can back off to 100 mg a day for maintenance.

7. Rhodiola Rosea

If you’re under the gun with a writing deadline and you’re dragging, this is the supplement for you.

Called “nature’s energy booster” and “nature’s antidepressant,” this herb has shown in studies to help reduce stress, combat mild depression, improve cognitive function, and treat metabolic burnout—that endless fatigue we suffer from when trying to fit in all our writing and marketing activities with everything else we do in our lives.

A 2000 study, for instance, found that it reduced mental fatigue among young physicians who were working nights. Researchers saw improvements in mental performance, short-term memory, ability to concentrate, and speed of audio-visual perception, as well as an improvement in general fatigue.

Other studies have shown it may also help you sleep, tame anxiety, recover faster from exercise, and maintain a healthy blood sugar range.

Try 150 mg a day of a supplement that contains at least one percent “salidroside” and three percent “rosavins.” You can increase that to 400 mg a day if needed, but doctors advise increasing slowly, to avoid feeling “revved up.”

Do you take supplements to support your health as a writer? Please share any tips you may have.

Michael F Holick and Tai C Chen, “Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences,” Am J Clin Nutr, April 2008; 87(4):1080S-1086S,

Zhang W., et al., “Associations of dietary magnesium intake with mortality from cardiovascular disease: the JACC study,” Atherosclerosis, April 2012; 221(2):587-95,

Akito Kato-Kataoka, et al., “Soybean-Derived Phosphatidylserine Improves Memory Function in Elderly Japanese Subjects with Memory Complaints,” J Clin Biochem Nutr., November 2010; 47(3):246-255,

Alan Smithee, “Feed Your Brain!” Life Extension Magazine, January 2011;

Kangari H., et al., “Short-term consumption of omega-3 and dry eye syndrome,” Ophthalmology, November 2013; 120(11):2191-6,

Darbinyan V., et al., “Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue—a double-blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty,” Phytomedicine, October 2000; 7(5):365-71,

“Rhodiola,” Life Extension Magazine, December 2007,

Chris Kilham, “Rhodila rosea: Nature’s Antidepressant,” Fox News, September 10, 2012,

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Comments (3)

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  1. Chere Hagopian says:

    I have never tried CoQ10. I’ll have to give it a shot. I could certainly use more energy! And Phosphatidyl Serine is one I am not familiar with, but it sounds helpful! Fish oil is the big one I have always taken. Thanks for the great information!

  2. jan says:

    I’d never heard of a few of these supplements! Thanks for the into Colleen!