4 Common Supplements And What They Really Do

An osteopathic doctor talks turmeric, ginger, probiotics, and magnesium.
Publish date:
August 19, 2014
ginger, supplements, vitamins, probiotics, health, magnesium, tumeric

“It’s what inside that counts,” said every parent, teacher, or mid-90s cable sitcom ever. And while it may sound trite, it totally rings true on so many levels.

An amazing system of bones, muscle, nerves, and organs, our bodies rely on us to feed it nutrients and help it work, feel, and look top-notch. I try my best to eat right, drink enough water, and exercise, but I also pop a few supplements every morning for good measure. Those are: ginger, turmeric, probiotics, and magnesium.

To find out more about what these supplements (whether taken via capsule or food) do inside the bod, I spoke with Dr. Eunice Chan, a doctor of osteopathic medicine.


When ingested, ginger can help ease nausea, motion sickness, and indigestion. You can work ginger into your diet by cooking it, juicing it, or drinking it in tea. “I typically instruct patients to either cut several slices of ginger and place it in a cup of hot water or to buy ginger tea. It also comes in pill form. A typical dose is 250 mg three times a day," says Dr. Chan.

Beauty Benefits: Many lip plumpers use ginger in their formulas because it stimulates circulation, often warming the skin, and increases blood flow for a fuller, more plumped look.


Turmeric is also a common cooking ingredient, both in powdered and root form. Its properties include being an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and mild pain reliever. Consult with your physician before taking turmeric in capsule form. Pregnant women should avoid turmeric capsules entirely, says Dr. Chan.

Beauty Benefits: Turmeric is often used topically in skin care regimens due to its anti-inflammatory and circulatory benefits.


Found in foods like pumpkin seeds, swiss chard, and kale, this mineral plays a role in hundreds of reactions in the human body. "It promotes better sleep, reduces insulin resistance (important for diabetics), promotes better motility within the muscles, can help with serotonin secretion (important for people that suffer from depression and anxiety), and helps relieve constipation by increasing more water reabsorption into the large intestine,” says Dr. Chan.

Beauty Benefits: Magnesium has been used in facial and hand lotions for its ability to assist in cell repair, as it slows the fraying of telomeres in your DNA. Epsom salt baths are a popular way to soak in magnesium and all of its skin benefits.


“I love probiotics. They can be taken daily safely. They are great for regulating bowel movements and restoring normal gut flora. All age groups can benefit from use,” says Dr. Chan. You can get probiotics in pill form or through foods like yogurt and fermented vegetables.

Beauty Benefits: When used in topical skin care, the probiotic lactobacillus has been shown to regulate the bacteria of the skin, easing redness and acne.

Do you take any of these supplements? Do you prefer to work them into your diet or into your pill box?