Whew! This is a long one guys. Let’s be honest, how often do I write short blog posts?!?! Ha! But a supplement post was highly requested. Especially now with the unfortunate acquisition of Pure Encapsulations, Douglas Labs and Garden of Life, among others, by Nestle last month. It just means it’s time to change up my game a bit! Though I was saddened by that news, I am not one for complacency, and there are a lot of other great brands out there.
Quick aside on my supplement philosophy:
This can be summed up in two words: Food First. I believe food is the bedrock of good health. However, in this world we live in today, with all the chemicals we spray on our food, the over farming that is being done, and more, the nutrients in the soil aren’t what used to be. 1 This is where supplements come in. They literally supplement, fill in the gaps, of where we fall short.
Second, you’ll often see the terms DRI and RDA. RDA stands for Recommended Daily Allowance, and is only referring to the minimum amount we need to survive. DRI stands for Dietary Reference Intake, this took the place of RDA but is still only the minimum amount we need to survive.
A 2016 study by the CDC found that less than 16% of Americans get enough fruits and vegetable in their daily diet.2 Additionally, the CDC number, like those DRI/RDA standards above, references are just the levels we need to survive, which is about ½ the amount we actually need for optimal health. So, we are actually much lower than 16%. Of course the first step here is not to supplement, it’s to get in more servings of fruits and veggies. Food first. But the second thing would be to add in some supplements. Plus, even when we are meeting the optimal amounts of nutrients from our food (that less than 16% of us), there are so many other reasons we might want to supplement - stress, refined foods, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, toxins and age to name a few. All these deplete our bodies of the proper vitamins and minerals we need to flourish.
One of the main reasons I am writing this post is because one of my old faithful supplement brands was bought by the Nestle corporation. I question all supplements out there. Quality is number one. You can only know quality through questions and research. Where do their raw materials come from, are they natural or synthetic and do they provide third party testing on all products, proving what they say is in their product and what amounts are correct and nothing more or less!
Here’s what I take daily and why:
- Multi-Vitamin – I think in the world we live in today, even when we eat the best we can, there are always holes that can be filled in our vitamin and mineral game. I have tried a lot out there. Currently I am taking Designs for Health Twice Daily, which I like a lot. When I am finished with this bottle I am going to take MegaFoods Multi for Women. The main differences here are Designs for Health has more B vitamins, it’s iron-free and contains boron (for bone support), high gamma mixed tocos (antioxidant form of vitamin E) and alpha lipoic acid (another antioxidant to help fight inflammation), it’s in a vegetarian capsule and must be taken with food. The MegaFoods formula contains K1, K2, iron, choline and potassium, is food-based, meaning it’s made from real food and is supposedly more bioavailable to our body, meaning we can absorb more, it’s vegetarian, soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher and non-GMO, and can be taken on an empty stomach. I’m interested seeing if I feel a difference. I’ll try to remember to add a follow up here in a month or two.
- Vitamin D – Also known as the “sunshine vitamin” this vitamins helps with immunity, bone health and mood disorders. Always take in the form of D3. I would get your fasting blood test during your annual with your general practitioner first to see where you fall and if you are depleted or not. Somewhere up upwards of 80% of Americans are D deficient. I take 5,000 IU during the winter months (suns out less) and 2,000 IU in the warmer months. I like Apex Energetics Liqua-D, or Thorne Research Liquid D or D/K2 (K2 has been down to help with bone health)
- Digestive Enzymes – These help us absorb more of the vitamins and minerals we ingest. As well as help to breakdown proteins and fats that might be harder to digest for some rather than other. They can help with leaky gut, acid reflux and IBS. Enzymedica Digest Gold or Apex Energetics EnzymixPro.
- Probiotics – The gut bugs are great at balancing the good to bad bacteria ratio in our stomach. They help us with immune system, mood disorders, brain health, digestive health, and more. There is some evidence out there now that when take them as a supplement they are dead bugs by the time they get to our stomachs. However, those cases aren’t strong yet. Either way, even if they are dead when they reach our stomachs they are in the least food for our good bacteria that is there to feed on and grow. I like Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Complete or MegaFoods MegaFlora. I personally take 50-100 billion depending on the day. But if you are just starting out stick to 10-25 billion and slowly work up if needed.
- Omega-3/Fish Oil – A few years ago, when I was struggling still with severe adult acne, I wrote a blog post on Seed Cycling. Definitely worth a read and try if you are having any skin or hormonal imbalances. The supplement cycle portion of the program stuck with me. On days 1-14 (day 1 of bleeding to the day before ovulation) of my cycle I take 2,000 mg EPA/DHA to help with cell communicating, lower inflammation, specially to help with estrogen and progesterone balance. I love Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega.
- Evening Primrose Oil – Days 15-28 (first day or ovulation to the day before bleeding) of my cycle I take 500mg GLA. There are some out there that think you should take it days 1-14. If you like you can simply take this all month long, there’s no harm here. They can help with PMS, cramps, fertility, hormone balance and maybe even weight loss. I love Barlean’s Evening Primrose Oil caps or Metagenics OmegaGenics Evening Primrose.
- B-Complex – B vitamins can help with so many things: mood, stress support, energy, healthy skin, liver and nervous system. They are best taken in combination since one B, i.e. B12, without the others can throw off the balance of the rest. I love Apex Energetics Super B-zyme, Thorne Basic B Complex or MegaFoods Balanced B Complex.
- Magnesium/Calcium – These two minerals are best in combination. They like to throw the other off, when one is taken it strips us of the other. Magnesium is one of those minerals that is stripped from our reserves whenever we are stress, drink too much or exercise intensely. It’s also wonderful for supporting muscle relaxation and sleep. My preference is Natural Vitality Magnesium Calm with Calcium. I take about ½ tbsp. (or 500 mg) per night in about 6 ounces of warm water. (warning: if you have loose stools don’t take this, most forms of magnesium tend to have laxative affects.)
- DHEA – I just stopped taking these, but I wanted to include them anyways. With my adrenal fatigue, I have very low hormone levels, DHEA was one of them. So I took 5mg daily for about 6-9 months and weaned off of them. My blood work shows my levels are back up now! They are great for building muscles, easing muscle pain, fatigue, and inflamed skin reactions. But since it is a hormone, I would strongly suggest not taking this until you have had a blood or urine test to tell you where your levels are. If you do take it I would take Apex Energetics DHEA liquid or Integrative Therapeutics DHEA.
- Biotin – Also known as B7, this vitamin is great for hair, skin and nails, plus blood sugar balance. It is often low in b-complex formulas, so I like to add more in. I like Thorne Biotin-8.
Other Supplements I really like:
- Ubiquinol/CoQ10 – Ubiquinol is the active form of the enzyme CoQ10. It’s known as the “anti-aging” ally. It is a powerful antioxidant that benefit the heart, blood pressure, nervous system and more. I would start with 50-200 mg daily. I like Apex Energetics Co10 Active liquid or Integrative Therapeutics UBQH-50.
- Zinc – This is great for immune function, skin health, wound healing, fertility, digestive enzymes, insulin control and increasing taste/appetite. I would start with 15-20 mg daily with food. I like Thorne Zinc Picolinate.
- L-Glutamine – This is the most abundant amino acid in our bloodstream. It can help with burn fat and build muscle, help to heal the gut lining and help those with cravings and addictions. Start between 2-5 grams daily. Often best take with your B-complex to control glutamine build up in the body. I like Klaire Labs L-Glutamine or Thorne Research L-Glutamine.
- Turmeric – I think you must be living under a rock if you don’t know this is great for fighting inflammation in the body. But what most people don’t know is that the active ingredient in turmeric, called curcumin, is best absorbed when black pepper is in the equation. It is also good for liver function and immunity. I like Apex Energetics Turmero-XL Active (liquid) or MegaFoods Turmeric for Whole Body (thought their Liver and Joint formulas are great too). I would take minimum 400 mg or 800 mg daily.
- Milk Thistle – We have so many toxin in the world right now that I think nearly everyone could benefit from a little liver support. I like Thorne Research Siliphos.
I know that is a lot of information to take in. My intention was not to overwhelm, but to provide more of an at-a-glance reference list of supplements and some great companies I love and trust. Here’s list of the professional and store brands I love and trust:
- Apex Energetics
- Designs for Health
- Innate Response
- Integrative Therapeutics
- Klaire Labs
- Thorne Research
- Gaia Herbs
- Irwin Naturals
- Nordic Naturals
Just know this is not be telling you what you should be taking. But rather sharing with you what I do and what I so commonly tell my clients to take. If there are a few things on here you already take, when you are done with that bottle I encourage you to try one of these brands here and compare. And if you find something you love please share! I am always looking to expand and learn.
Lastly, as a nutritional practitioner I have access to the highest quality practitioner brands out there. And yes, I do make a small amount of money off selling them as part of my business. However, and this is a BIG HOWEVER, I would NEVER recommend anything I wouldn’t take myself. And I always leave my clients with other trusted recommendations they can buy at their local health food store, so there is never any pressure to buy anything from me. Plus, I am aware that professional brands can be more expensive (not always), on top of having to wait for it to ship to your house, so I always give my clients a discount on their products.
Part of my nutritional consultations include supplement recommendations. If you have more questions and are interested in what that looks like feel free to reach out to me for a free 15-minute phone consultation or book your initial consultation.
Did I miss anything you like to take? Or ones you have questions about?