There are SO many supplements out there and I often get questions asking what kind of supplements people should be taking, what types are the best, and a lot of comments stating that there are too many options out there.
So, I decided to make a list of what I believe to be some of the most important supplements that (almost) everyone should be taking regularly.
VITAMIN D Vitamin D, aka the sunshine vitamin! A fat soluble vitamin, which means that we can store it in the body, and it can accumulate (that’s why I often take a larger dose of vitamin D 1-2 times per week, instead of every single day). Vitamin D is found in a few foods (sardines, salmon, tuna, eggs, and mushrooms), but the main source is SUNLIGHT. For those who live in cities where the sun isn’t constantly shining (Vancouver being one of those cities - actually, all of Canada), we need to supplement. We need to spend around 20 minutes in sunlight each day to be able to get a daily amount of needed vitamin D. BENEFITS: - improves mood - promotes healthy skin - helps with eczema and psoriasis - improves the immune system - supports healthy bones There are two different types vitamin D: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D2 is a source of vitamin D created by certain plants (such as mushrooms). D3 is natural form of vitamin D that our body makes when we are exposed to sunlight. D3 is absorbed and used in the body better than D2, however D2 is considered a vegan source and is in some supplements. How does sunlight turn into vitamin D in our bodies? When the sun’s UV rays hit our skin, the cholesterol in our skin changes from regular cholesterol to a precursor to vitamin D. Then it is activated in the liver. Health Canada recommends is 600IU daily.
PROBIOTICS Probiotics are good bacteria found in our digestive tracts. There are billions of both good and bad bacteria living here, however it is important to have a healthy balance between both forms of bacteria. If there are too many bad bacteria, there could be health consequences, such as digestive issues, hormonal issues, candida overgrowth, vitamin deficiencies, anemia and mood disorders. Things that lower our good bacteria, and allow bad bacteria the opportunity to flourish include antibiotics, antimicrobial herbs (such as garlic, echinacea, goldenseal), chlorinated tap water, unhealthy diet, stress, alcohol and drugs and a low-fibre diet - to name a few. Probiotics are found in foods that have been fermented, such as kombucha, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso. BENEFITS: - synthesize vitamins in the gut - increase immunity - healthy mood - improved digestion - healing of gut issues (i.e. IBS, IBD), improved gut integrity (i.e. leaky gut), improved absorption of foods There are many choices when it comes to buying a probiotics supplement. You can get lower dose probiotics (1 billion CFU) to very high dose (500 billion CFU). CFU stands for Colony Forming Units, which basically means the number of viable (viable being those able to multiply) bacteria in the supplement. When considering a probiotic, take into consideration your health. If you have chronic gut issues (i.e. constant bloating, IBS, IBD, mood disorders, long term medication use or constant pain) you may want to start with a higher dose of probiotics, then work your way to a lower one as you start feeling better. If you have acute health concerns (i.e. taking short term antibiotics, short term travelling or just health maintenance) you would be okay starting with a lower dose for a shorter period of time. Remember, don’t take your probiotics at the exact same time as antibiotics or anti-microbial herbs, as it will make the probiotics ineffective. If you have any question about where to start with probiotics, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you figure out where to start!
OMEGA-3 Omega-3 is a type of fatty acid that has many benefits to our bodies. They’re called essential fatty acids, because our body cannot produce it, meaning we need to consume it in our diet. Omega-3s are found in both plants and fatty fish. Fatty fish, shell fish and algaes contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These fatty acids are what help our bodies with all the health benefits of omegas. The omega-3 found in plants, such as leafy greens, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and algaes is called Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). Our body converts ALA to EPA and DHA, but at a very small conversion rate. This means that consuming ALA is a good option for vegans and vegetarians, however is not a very efficient or potent way to consume EPA and DHA. BENEFITS: - anti-inflammatory - joints/bones/skin - increase mood, decrease anxiety and depression - brain and memory support - supports heart health, healthy circulation and improves cholesterol levels It is recommended that individuals try to consume at least 2-3 servings of fatty fish (i.e. salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, sardines) each week. There are also omega-6s and omega-9s. We easily get tons omega-6s and omega-9s in our diet already. The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in our diet is 1:1, however it is actually more like 1:30. So usually, we only need to supplement omega-3s.
MAGNESIUM Magnesium is a mineral that is part of over 300 functions in the body. The symptoms of those who are low or deficient in magnesium include: muscles aches or spasms, poor digestion, anxiety, poor sleep, PMS symptoms, nutrients deficiencies and many more. These deficients are caused from poor diet, soil depletion and poor digestion or absorption in the gut. Magnesium is easily depleted in those who exercise and sweat a lot, drink alcohol or caffeine, eat processed foods and sugar and those who take drugs and antibiotics. BENEFITS: - increases energy, decreases fatigue - calms nerves, decreases anxiety and improves sleep - relieves muscles aches and spasms - regulates minerals in body - supports heart heart and decreases risk of osteoporosis There is a lot of confusion when it comes to different types of magnesium supplements. MAGNESIUM OXIDE & CITRATE - laxative effect, poor bioavailability MAGNESIUM CHELATE (pronounced ‘key-late’) bonded to proteins, easily absorbed MAGNESIUM GLYCINATE/BISGLYCINATE - easily absorbed, usually in lower doses, least likely to cause laxative effect MAGNESIUM THREONATE - very bioavailable and absorbable, pentrates mitochondria, more expensive MAGNESIUM OROTATE - support of the cardiovascular system (heart) If you don't know how much magnesium to take, start with a smaller dose and increase. You will know when it is too much, because you will experience a laxative effect.
MULTIVITAMIN A multivitamin can be great way to make sure you're getting enough of all the vitamins and minerals required to keep you healthy. Even if you think you eat a perfectly healthy diet, there is a large change that you are still not getting all the necessary nutrients. This is partially because of the processing of foods, as well as the soil in which our foods are grown in are highly depleted of necessary nutrients. A high quality, natural multivitamin can help support your overall health. I typically like to take multivitamins that are from whole food sources, so the nutrients are as close to nature as possible. BENEFITS: - B vitamins - support nervous system, stress response and energy - vitamin C - supports the immune system, collagen building - zinc, selenium, copper, iodine - minerals needed to support health, that are often low in soil - herbs, antioxidants - to protect, especially against free radical damage Multivitamins will benefit most individuals, but especially those who are pregnant, have poor diets or poor digestion, or those who are cutting full food groups out of their diet (i.e. vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free etc). --- Obviously there are way more supplements than these, and there are certain situations where more support is needed. This list is for those looking for somewhere to start their journey to better health. Keep your eyes out for a post coming soon about adaptogenic herbs and how you can benefit! Again, for more information, support and to get any specific questions answered, email me at: email@example.com and I would be more than happy to help!