We often get asked if supplements are necessary or if we can get everything we need to support our bodies through food. The answer is both yes and no.
While it is possible to get nearly everything you need from food, it would take an inordinate amount of diligence, time, expense, and dedication to eat “perfectly clean” in order to fill in nutritional deficiencies and give the body the daily food-based cleansing that it needs to deal with the burdens of modern-day life.
It would also require that we live our lives with a minimal amount of stress so we do not leach our bodies of precious minerals and B vitamins.
Due to a myriad of factors, we find that nutritional supplements are very important to advance one’s health in the most effective manner. These factors can include the following:
- processed foods
- environmental toxins
- mental-emotional stressors
- long-standing digestive disorders
- genetic propensities for weaker organ/glandular systems or trouble detoxing pharmaceutical use
- hormones and antibiotics in the meat supply
- genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- severely-depleted soil
In other words, supplements can help you feel better much faster by speeding up the pace at which nutritional deficiencies are filled in, while also helping the body to pull out the excess chemicals and toxins that impede wellness.
Multivitamins, fish oil, probiotics, and greens are the four most basic supplements we want to cover, but we’ll also cover some additional super-star supplements.
As always, check with your doctor or other healthcare professional before starting any new supplement protocol.
If you are not being individually guided by a healthcare practitioner, then a food-based, high-quality multivitamin is highly recommended. This will ensure that all of your bases are being covered. Even when the body is short of only one nutrient, it will not function optimally and other systems can be compromised.
Some of our favorites for quality are this one without iron (not everyone needs iron so it’s always good to test your ferritin on your bi-annual blood work) and this one that does have iron. There are many great food-based multi’s in the health food store as well.
For those who want to boost mitochondria, have adrenal fatigue, a neurological issue, or would like to get pregnant, we also love Ortho Molecular’s Mitocore for both men and women. This is a good choice for those with lower immune function and chronic fatigue since it works to boost cellular energy by enhancing mitochondria production.
2. Fish Oil
The body cannot produce its own omega-3 fatty acids, therefore, we must consume them via diet. If you are not eating wild fatty fish 3 times a week, then we recommend supplementing. Omega-3s are needed for maintaining blood pressure (they thin the blood), regulating cholesterol, assisting with nerve transmission and weight loss, and for proper prostaglandin function (which regulates inflammation, pain and swelling). Sufficient omega-3 fatty acids are also thought to play a role in maintaining good cardiovascular health and are essential for healthy egg implantation, prevention of miscarriage, and for fetus development. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been linked with mitigating arthritis, depression, and intestinal inflammation.
Our current favorites are (note: brands change quality all the time, so we are always researching and checking)
Probiotics are essential to maintain good digestive health and immune function. We recommend taking them only a few times a year for 4-12 weeks at a time (when working to improve your gut and immune health) and then maintaining them with fermented foods after that. They restore order and balance of good bacteria in the gut and crowd out the bad bacteria.
Probiotics have the power to improve our moods as well. It's been found we actually produce more serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for our sense of well-being and satisfaction) in our guts than we do in our brains. This is the reason why many people who have digestive problems are also depressed. Taking a multi-strain probiotic, and not just acidophilus, is important to combat this.
We love Ortho Molecular’s Orthobiotic and Pure Encapsulations Probiotic 50B in general. For a lower dose, yet very effective and high-quality probiotic, we like ABC, which rings in at 12 billion CFU. Then for a heavy-hitting, high-dose probiotic, we use Probiotic 225.
Greens are your supplement for daily cellular cleansing and clean-up; plus they supply a litany of micronutrients your body needs to function optimally.
Greens supplements provide the type of greens that oxygenate your blood, but that you wouldn’t normally eat, such as spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, and wheatgrass.
They also contain a high dose of food-based antioxidants to clean up environmental damage and toxins (free radicals). Greens will work synergistically with the rest of your supplement plan and will help shift your biochemistry faster, so you actually start craving the good stuff.
Our current favorite is PaleoGreens because they are high-quality greens that aim to be hypoallergenic for today’s wide array of food sensitivities.
Additional Supplement Recommendations (Bonus/Customizations)
Do your best not to take any more than 5-7 different kinds of supplements at any given time. Otherwise they can start to overwhelm your body – this is coming from a supplement junkie who has used her body as her own lab rat for the past decade. 😉
The more you heal through diet and lifestyle, the less supplements you should need.
Digestive Enzymes (take 1-2 with each meal)
Enzymes help us digest our food faster and easier, allowing us to extract more nutrients from our food with less energy, which means we get to use that extra energy throughout our day.
They are helpful to tonify the intestines, for poor absorption; and to decrease gas, bloating, and constipation. However, consider them a band-aid to use for the short-term (not longer than 60 days) while you are figuring out and/or healing the root cause of the digestive upset (yeast, mold, parasites, leaky gut, or food sensitivities). You can find more details on enzymes here.
You ultimately want your body to be able to produce these enzymes on its own. Our favorites are full spectrum enzymes like Digestzymes and Digestzyme-V. If you prefer an enzyme without betaine/HCL, then Digestive Enzymes Ultra are a great, effective choice.
For safe, gentle constipation relief, we love Triphala. Far and away, this is my most favorite supplement I’ve ever worked with to help clients with constipation. Triphala is a combination of three different Indian fruits which work to moisten and nourish the lining of the intestines, while gently detoxifying old matter. It is safe enough to keep taking for 2-3 months for slow cleansing. The traditional dose is 1-4 capsules prior to bed. For overnight relief of occasional constipation, Smooth Move tea by Traditional Medicinals acts like a laxative. This product contains Senna which can scrape the intestines to produce a bowel movement, so you are best to only use it occasionally and not for more than 3 days in a row.
Leaky Gut/Intestinal Permeability
We recommend Slippery Elm, Marshmallow root (found in health food stores), or Ortho Molecular’s Mucosagen which is a complex that has both, plus glutamine and NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) for liver support.
Pain and Inflammation
We consider Inflammatone to be “Nature’s Ibuprofen”. It helps control swelling, aches, and pains, and we love how it contains boswellia. Boswellia (Indian frankincense) is a natural medicine that has been used for centuries to relieve pain and inflammation from diseases, like arthritis, as well as injuries.
Over 80% of the population is deficient in vitamin D, so make sure you get yourself tested at least twice annually. This is one vitamin you definitely want to keep balanced (not too low and not too high). A perfect functional range number for your vitamin D is 60 (not the 30 that your doctor might tell you is sufficient).
If you want to learn more about Vitamin D, we did an entire show on it with holistic psychiatrist Dr. Sara Van Anrooy. You can watch that here.
Please note that this supplement list is just a guide and is not acting in the capacity of a healthcare practitioner, so do please check with your doctor prior to adding any new supplements to your regimen.