“What supplements should I take?”
That’s a question we get a lot around here and there are a lot of conflicting opinions about the correct answer to it.
Some say that if you’re eating a balanced diet, there’s no need for supplements. Some say since our soil isn’t always organic, our food is missing vital nutrients. And some swear by supplements from MCT oil to protein powders to multivitamins and green potions.
Bridget and I fall somewhere in between. We don’t believe that one can supplement their way around eating like crap. Nor do we believe that supplements are a magical cure-all for our ailments.
We do believe however, that supplements can be beneficial, especially when working with your doctor toward a specific goal. And we’ve seen improvement in how we feel while taking some standard, generally recommended supplements ourselves.
Bridget can tell you all about her new regiment, and how she’s using it with the help of her doctor to heal her gut and fight the Lyme battle but today, I’m going to share what I’ve been taking these days for some general support.
Now, please remember that I’m not a doctor and I’m not pretending to be one. Consider this list a starting block for your own research. If you’re an otherwise healthy adult, not on any medications and not pregnant and/or breastfeeding, you might consider adding some to your own routine.
But of course, you should always consult your doctor a call before starting any new supplements.
Alright, here goes.
The Supplements I’m Currently Taking:
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. There are actually 10x more probiotics in your gut than cells in your entire body.
These little beneficial bacteria are crucial for healthy digestion, producing vitamin B12 and crowding out bad bacteria, yeast, fungi and infections. Without enough of them, you can find yourself with skin issues, candida, autoimmune disease and frequently catching colds and flus. (The majority of your immune system is in your gut!)
We’d naturally be getting good bacteria from our food and producing enough on our own but, with the pesticides and antibiotics in our food, the fluoride in our water, the sugar and alcohol and grains in our diets, and the stress and chemicals in our lives, good bacteria unfortunately, get wiped out easily.
The benefits of having thriving probiotics in your gut include: boosted immune system, improved digestive and brain function and decreased IBS symptoms.
To get more beneficial bacteria, you can start by adding naturally probiotic foods to your diet such as: kefir (a fermented dairy product), sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt and kombucha.
Do your research though, look for 10-30 different strains of bacteria, live active cultures and at least 15 billion CFU or higher.
I swapped my daily multivitamin for a prenatal when Joel and I decided we wanted to start trying for a family. Even with a wide variety of healthy foods, it’s still hard to get all of the nutrients that me and my future baby will need. And there are two crucial nutrients in particular that are important in prenatal vitamins: folic acid and iron.
Folic acid is a b vitamin that reduces the risk of birth defects. And there’s an increased need for iron during pregnancy, which if left unmet can lead to anemia.
An estimated 80 percent of adults are deficient in magnesium, a vital mineral. Deficiencies can cause symptoms like muscle aches, poor digestion, anxiety and sleep issues. Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical functions in the body and is one of the most underutilized nutrients. Getting enough helps to increase energy, calm nerves, sleep better and relieve digestive issues.
As for calcium, we all know that it’s important to build and maintain strong bones and for our bodies to function properly. But, it turns out that taking calcium supplements alone isn’t always the best idea. You see, magnesium is actually crucial to the body’s proper assimilation of calcium. Which is why you’ll often see these two supplements together.
Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common in the United States and around the world. Our modern, indoor lifestyle has severely limited our body’s direct contact with the sun and therefore, its ability to create this crucial nutrient. With a vitamin D deficiency, our bones, muscles, immune systems and cardiovascular systems won’t be functioning optimally.
One way to get a boost of vitamin D is to get a little bit of sunshine when you can. Just 10-15 minutes of direct sun exposure can actually help. But obviously don’t over do it, we all know there are risks associated with prolonged sun exposure.
You can also up your vitamin D game through your diet. Some foods are clearly marked as fortified with it and some dairy, eggs, and mushrooms contain varying amounts as well.
Or like me, you can do some research, talk to your doctor and grab a supplement. Somewhere around 1000 IU per day should get you to your daily allowance but, it’s good to get your levels tested to see exactly what you can benefit from taking.
One of the most damaging issues in our modern food landscape is the imbalance in our fatty acid ratios. You see, we’re supposed to get a certain balance of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. But, omega-6 fatty acids are super common in processed foods and omega-3 fatty acids can be hard to come by. Meaning we get way too much 6 and nearly enough 3, which is harmful. The imbalance creates systemic inflammation and can lead to some pretty scary stuff like heart disease, stroke, depression, and hypertension.
Enter: fish oil.
Fish oil is one of nature’s richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Taking a fish oil supplement in conjunction with cutting out processed foods will go a long way to brining your fatty acid profile back into balance, which improves the overall function of every single system in your body.
Since staring this current supplement regiment, my digestion, sleep and energy have all improved.
What about you? Are you taking any supplements? Anything in particular you swear by? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!
Oh, and if you’re interested in upping your wellness game and cutting out the processed junk food, grab your free copy of The Simple Cleanse. A step-by-step guide to cleaning up your diet without going hungry! (or crazy) Pop your email in below and we’ll send it over.
Also published on Medium.