I often see people grumpily pacing the aisles of Health Food Stores, bewildered by the sheer vastness of selection. When I give presentations to large groups, inevitably someone will ask during the Q & A “What supplements do you take?”
I believe that supplements fall into three categories: the first are the things that you take every day for maintenance and general good health, second are things that you take for a specific length of time to address a certain issue and then don’t need again, and the third are things that you should keep on hand for occasions when they are needed. Think of it like your spice rack in your pantry – you might use salt, pepper and garlic everyday, have a certain blend that you buy, use ‘til it’s gone and never replace, and some lovely star anise or something equally exotic that you only pull out every once and awhile.
So let’s start with the ‘Everydays’.
- Fish oil. Omega3 is one of the very few supplements that I think pretty much everyone needs. My favorite, which I have been using for the last year, is called MorEPA Platinum by Minami. This is formulated with a high EPA to DHA ratio, which is great for balancing hormones and dealing with depression and anxiety. It is a high potency formula, so only one a day rather than the 2 or 3 you might need of another brand, and if you take it with food you shouldn’t have any problem with the gross fishy burps that can accompany fish oil supplements.
- B-Complex. I use B-Calm by Sisu because it offers a full complement of B vitamins along with some rhodiola. Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it helps your body cope better with stress and can be healing and restoring to the adrenal glands.
- Vitamin D. Let’s face it, the winters here are long and even when the weather is nice, many of us really don’t spend enough time outside to get all of the Vitamin D that we need. I usually take 2000iu daily from about October to April and then cut down to 1000iu. These are tiny, inexpensive supplements that are really easy to take and will make a big difference on your mood through the winter. More importantly than that however, getting enough Vitamin D has been linked with all sorts of health benefits from reduced risks of colon cancer and heart disease to better bone density and immune health.
- We are used to hearing about magnesium in conjunction with calcium for bone health, but on it’s own magnesium does a lot of important things in the body, including working as a muscle relaxant. Good for stress release, headaches, neck pain, back pain, menstrual cramps, sleep problems etc. I use Natural Calm which is a powder that your mix with water and drink.
Supplements that address certain issues will vary widely from person to person depending on the health issues they are dealing with. For example, taking specific herbs as part of a cleanse or to strengthen a specific system within the body. Many of the supplements that I suggest for my clients fall into this category, which is individual to each person’s health goals.
The third category contains a few things that you should have on hand for when they are needed:
- Some people would put these into the ‘everyday’ category, but I’m a firm believer in not taking more pills than you have to and if your body is balanced then you shouldn’t need these all the time. Take a probiotic if you feel like your immune system has been compromised, if you’ve been on antibiotics, if your body feels acidic, or if your digestion seems to be off. I am a huge fan of the Udo’s Choice line of probiotics manufactured by Flora.
- Digestive enzymes. You just had dinner at that wicked Indian restaurant and now your stomach feels like it’s doing backflips? Feels like lunch is still sitting like a brick in your guts hours later? Yep, you need enzymes. Again, I like the Udo’s Choice line from Flora.
- Something for stress. I’m not talking about the kind of product you would use to deal with adrenal burnout or long term stress, but things that will help you get through if your having a few sleepless nights and crazy days. I like SereniPro by Bioclinic Naturals, Stress Rescue by Sisu and Rescue Remedy, which is a Bach Flower product.
- Vitamin C. If you eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies you get more than enough vitamin C to survive. When everyone around you starts coughing, or you feel a tickle in your throat, that’s when you need an extra hit to help your immune system out.
There are plenty of other great products out there, but this will give you an idea of where to start. Do you have questions about what kind of supplements are best for you? Throw them at me and I’ll see if I can help!