This is such a common question and there is so much information out there, it can really become quite overwhelming. For every illness or symptom, there is some supplement to recommend.
I used to buy new supplements every time I read a health article because I’d think, “I have all of those symptoms! This must be just the thing to cure me!” Needless to say, I have a lot of half full bottles still sitting in my cupboard.
For me, I had to see a Functional Medicine Practitioner to really discover what my true issues were and what I needed to do to really “cure” myself or to simply get better. That being said, this post is not going to tell you about the newest supplement that will cure all that ails you. I’m just going to go over a few points that have helped me be the healthiest person I can be.
First Important Tip:
So, when eating try to vary your meals. Eat different meats throughout the week, being sure to include 1-3 meals of quality wild-caught fish. Vary your fruits and veggies, eating from many different color groups. The more variety and color you can get, the better! Also, as a Paleo lover I would recommend lowering your grain intake, as grains can harm our bodies and rob them of the nutrients we’re trying so hard to supply them with. Robb Wolf does a great job of explaining this phenomenon in his book The Paleo Solution.
Second Important Tip:
Stop taking daily multivitamins!!! It’s so terrible because we think that we’re improving our health by taking multivitamins, but many studies have shown that they either provide no benefit or they can even cause harm. If you don’t believe me, listen to the amazing Chris Kresser:
“The problem with multivitamins is that they contain too little of beneficial nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K2, and too much of potentially toxic nutrients like folic acid, calcium, iron and vitamin E. This means that multivitamins can actually cause nutrient imbalances that contribute to disease.” – From 9 Steps to Perfect Health – #4: Supplement Wisely
These nutrient imbalances have been shown to increase the risk of common cancers, cardiovascular disease and even mortality. Pretty much, just say NO to multivitamins.
Supplements You Should Be Taking:
I believe that these supplements can be beneficial and helpful to anyone and they should make you feel happier and healthier. However, I am not a medical professional and you should always discuss supplements with your doctor before deciding to start anything. Also, by discussing supplements with your doctor, you will better be able to address your specific symptoms and heal faster.
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) – Not Fish Oil! Fish oil is highly unstable and vulnerable to oxidative damage, which can cause a lot of harm to the body. FCLO provides your daily does of Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K2. Vitamin A and D protect your body against free-radical damage and diseases like cancer and Vitamin K2 regulates calcium metabolism, keeping calcium in your teeth and bones and out of your soft tissue. I take 2 capsules of Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil daily. You can also get it in liquid or gel form, but it does have a distinct fishy taste, that I just can’t stomach. For more great information on FCLO, check out this post from Wellness Mama.
- Probiotics – When choosing a probiotic, you want to look for a couple of things. First, look at how many billion bacteria per capsule there is. Usually, the more the better, but everyone is different. I was suffering from severe constipation, so a higher count proved to be very good for me. If you are more prone to diarrhea or loose stool, I would recommend starting at a lower count and working your way up. Also, look for a wide variety of bacteria strains within the probiotic. They can contain anywhere from 1 to 30 strains of bacteria. Again more is better, you want to have a good array of gut flora. I would also recommend getting a shelf-stable product. That way if you travel you don’t have to worry about refrigerating your probiotic. Also, make sure it is gluten and dairy free. I haven’t seen too many that aren’t, but I’ve heard they are out there. I’m currently taking LactoPrime Plus by Klaire Labs, one capsule in the morning and one at night. I’ve tried many different brands over the years and as long as I’ve followed the above criteria, I’ve found them all to be beneficial.
- Vitamin D3 – If you are taking your FCLO, you will be getting a good dose of Vitamin D. However, a lot of people end up needing more. We don’t go outside as much as we should to get what we need, about 30 minutes in direct sunlight. And adequate levels of Vitamin D combat cancer and Alzheimers. Moreover, Vitamin D deficiency has been strongly linked to autism, asthma and diabetes in children. If any of these conditions run in your family, I would recommend taking a Vitamin D supplement as well. I take NOW Foods Vitamin D3 at 2,000 IU/day.
- Magnesium – This little compound is so important to overall health and most people are deficient in it. Here are just a few symptoms of magnesium deficiency: muscle cramps, headaches, acid reflux, PMS, gut disorders, migraines, diabetes, asthma, insomnia, depression and anxiety. Needless to say, most of us would benefit from more magnesium. It comes in may different forms and there is kind of something for everyone. Magnesium Oil is great to use before bed to combat insomnia. It absorbs into the skin quickly and aids in sleep. However, it can be tingly or itchy on the skin, which may irritate some people. I’ve found that making a Magnesium Body Butter helps with this issue. You can also take magnesium citrate if you suffer from constipation, like me! Start with 200-400mg a day and work your way up if you need help moving things along. I take 600mg a day of Now Foods Magnesium Citrate. If these solutions don’t speak to you, try magnesium glycinate or magnesium malate. They absorb well and tend to have fewer side effects.
- B Complex – B Vitamins do so many wonderful things for us. B1 (Thiamine) protects our immune systems, B2 (Riboflavin) fights off free-radicals, B3 (Niacin) boosts our good cholesterol (HDL), B5 (Pantothenic Acid) produces our sex and stress-related hormones, B6 (Pyridoxine) regulates our mood and hormones, B7 (Biotin) is responsible for healthy skin, hair and nails and B9 (Folate) prevents depression and memory loss. Most importantly a deficiency in B12 is highly correlated with depression. “Observational studies have found that as many as 30% of patients that are hospitalized for depression are deficient in vitamin B12.” – From Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Depression. I have also found that the type of B12 makes a huge difference. Some people have a hard time breaking down B12 and utilizing it in the body. Getting a methylated form of B12 will help your body break down the vitamin and use it. When looking for a B vitamin complex, look for methylcobalamin not cyanocobalamin. Also, if you are vegetarian or vegan, you will most likely need to supplement with B12, as it is only found in animal products. I am currently taking Metabolic Maintenance B-Complex at 1 capsule/day.
Whew, that’s a lot of information! I tend to go a little overboard, but I like to know the facts behind things, so I give them to you too. Again, these are all just suggestions and I always recommend discussing them with your doctor first.
So in conclusion, here’s an easy shopping list for you:
- Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil
- LactoPrime Plus by Klaire Labs
- Vitamin D3 by NOW Foods
- Magnesium Citrate by NOW Foods
- B-Complex by Metabolic Maintenance
Let us know, what supplements do you take? What has really been helping you along in your healing journey?
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. However, all of my opinions are my own and are not swayed by being an affiliate.