One of the things I get asked often from people are what supplements do I take. As an Integrative Nutrition health coach, we were taught to not solely rely on supplementation for overall health. In fact, it was encouraged to not automatically give supplement suggestions to clients unless they are asking for specific remedies and their doctor is okay with them taking it.
But supplements can be a great thing to add to your health regiment, especially if you are someone that struggles with eating a balanced diet full of fruits, veggies, and lean proteins from sustainably raised sources. And I take supplements because I stay on top of my bloodwork and there are things that my body needs in addition to a healthy lifestyle.
So in this article I wanted to just go over some of the all-natural, more homeopathic supplements I do like to tell clients about when they ask me recommendations. Some of these are prescribed by my general practitioner, and others I take based on the recommendation of my Naturopath or from my own research and education.
The first supplement I take is Vitamin D3. My physician recommended I start taking this several years ago after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Most of us walk around with Vitamin D3 deficiency because we are working inside for longer hours instead of out in the sunshine. Because our bodies don’t make vitamins, we are reliant on outside sources to keep our stores up. And Vitamin D is used up fairly quickly in the body, so it’s hard to keep “reserves.”
Exposure to sunshine (without sunscreen) for 5 to 10 minutes a few times a week can give you what you need for Vitamin D, but this can be hard to do in the winter months when our bodies are covered in coats and warm clothing. So if you take a supplement for Vitamin D, I recommend finding one that is made with olive oil as its carrier oil instead of soybean. In my personal opinion, olive oil is a better alternative than soy products because of the research done on poor sources of soybean oils used in our foods and over-the-counter products.
Food sources for Vitamin D are as follows:
-Cod liver oil, swordfish, herring, tuna (canned too), sardines, eggs, fortified milk (if you consume dairy)
My next go-to supplement that I take based on a medical recommendation is Calcium (which also has Vitamin D with it for absorption purposes). Calcium is very important for women, especially those of us in the “40 and Over” club. Calcium is needed to prevent osteoporosis and maintain good bone and teeth health. It also helps with enzyme functions in the body, which are needed to keep our cells running properly and our digestion up to speed. Studies have also shown it to be healthy for the heart muscle.
Sources for Calcium outside of supplements are as follows:
-Dairy products or fortified non-dairy products, broccoli, seaweeds, nuts, seeds, spinach, tofu, and beans
Another mineral many of us walk around deficient in is Magnesium. Our foods today are low in magnesium, so it can be hard to get in the necessary amounts with just diet alone. I take my supplement in a powder form in the evening (it can help you sleep). Magnesium is needed everyday and helps with enzyme function in the body. It is good for bone health, can lower your risk for diabetes through regulation of carbohydrate and glucose metabolism, has been suggested to aid in migraine relief, and can even alleviate anxiety. Another bonus for women is magnesium can help with premenstrual symptoms.
Good food sources for Magnesium include:
-nuts, seeds, spinach, broccoli, shrimp, beans, bananas, peanut butter, milk, brown rice, oatmeal
This is probably something you have heard about, but I am going to reiterate what all the other health gurus are saying about probiotics. These gems are great for the gut!!! Our gut is one of the most important organs in our bodies because it regulates immune function, neurotransmitters, and a slew of other important functionalities. Our gut can make or break our overall health, so you have to keep it rich and full of the good flora! Probiotics are also good with helping regulate bowel diseases, inflammation, and maintaining vaginal health in women.
There are a plenitude of probiotic supplements out there, and I recommend you start small on the dosage so your body can get used to it (you don’t need it to be a laxative!). Around 25 to 30 billion CFU’s is a great place to begin. It has a lot of good bacteria strains in them and if you feel you want to increase further down the road, then just talk with your health practitioner on what is the best fit for you.
This supplement I discovered during my coursework with IIN. It was recommended by Paul Pitchford, a master of ancient Chinese medicine and whole foods nutrition. He has authored several books on healing the body through whole foods and all-natural supplements.
Chlorella is a nutrient-dense freshwater algae that is taken in either a powder, capsule, or tablet form. It’s a great superfood for the body because it supports immune function, contains essential minerals and vitamins (B12, magnesium, beta-carotene are just a few), has protein (small amount), and works to eliminate toxins from the body. If there is one supplement that I make sure I take daily, it’s chlorella.
Sun-Chlorella is a great brand available at most health food stores, or Prime Chlorella brand is high quality and can be ordered online.
If you are interested in adding supplements to your daily routine, I first recommend you speak with your health practitioner to make sure nothing interferes with any other medication you might be on. It’s also wise to get a blood panel done to see what vitamins and minerals you are deficient in before adding a new regiment to your diet.
When it comes to purchasing supplements, I would be very cautious buying online unless you know the brand you are purchasing is valid and safe. The health and wellness industry is one of the largest money makers out there today, and a lot of companies are exploiting consumers through supplements. Do your research and ask questions to avoid products made with fillers and other harmful ingredients. Your local health food store is also a great resource for supplements, and you can ask questions and get customer feedback about products.
For me, I like to use products from these companies:
Now Foods – http://www.nowfoods.com
Garden of Life – http://www.gardenoflife.com
Prime Chlorella – http://www.primechlorella.com
Pure Encapsulations – http://www.pureformulas.com; http://www.amazon.com
Leading a healthy life is so important nowadays and sometimes that means adding supplements to our daily routine. It’s all about learning your body, what it needs, and finding high-quality sources to fuel it.
Until next time,