New Year, New Supplements (Naturopathic Doctor Approved)

New Year, New Supplements

(Naturopathic Doctor Approved)

 

     As a Naturopathic Doctor, I see patients all the time that come into their first visit with a bag of supplements. Most of these supplements are self-recommended through google searches. For example, Dr. google says these 10 things are best for your condition so you go out and buy all 10! The first thing I always say to these patients is, it is 100x better to take fewer supplements, but the ones that are targeting the root issue of your health concern and are of higher quality. Seeing a Naturopathic Doctor can help to figure out the root cause and hopefully save you some money by taking fewer supplements, that still address the main concern.
 
Eating a whole-foods diet with fresh produce is the best way to get all the vitamins and minerals the body needs. In fact, healthy eating is one of the best ways to promote a long and healthy life. However, living in North America and even taking the extra time to feed the body what it needs, we often fall short in some of the important nutrients. This is where supplementation can come into effect. Remember, the foundation is always diet, supplements are additions to one’s diet regiment. 
 
If you are familiar with nutritional supplementation, you know there are just so many options to choose from - if you ask me, I would say a bit too many! So how do you decide what supplements to take?
 
Seeing a healthcare professional can really help you to decide which supplements are best indicated based on your lifestyle, diet and current needs. Supplements is something everyone needs some guidance around. So, to make your life a little easier, I have compiled a list below of the top 5 Naturopathic Doctor recommended supplements that are beneficial for overall health which can help to kick-start the new year! 
 
 

VITAMIN C

Vitamin C is one of my favourites! It is a potent antioxidant that is used to:
  • Boost the immune system
  • Kill free radicals (causes damage to healthy cells)
  • Promote collagen production for healthy skin
  • Necessary for healthy bones, gums and ligaments
  • Involved in the production of neurotransmitters and adrenal gland hormones
  • Help to reduce the length of colds by improving the body’s response to minor injuries  
 
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient meaning it isn’t stored in the body, so excess is excreted in urine.  However, taking too much Vitamin C (sometimes > 5000 mg), especially if you are taking it in chewable or gummy form can lead to diarrhea. Aim for about 1000-2000 mg a day.
 
You can also work to maximize foods that are high in Vitamin C such as: Oranges, strawberries, goji berries and tomatoes.
 

VITAMIN D

The sun is responsible for triggering Vitamin D production in the body. It acts more like a hormone than a vitamin. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine nutrient”. We are able to make Vitamin D on our own with the help of the sun.  However, the kidneys and the liver need to be healthy to turn it into its active form (Vitamin D3). 
 
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble steroid hormone that is required for many important functions in the body. A deficiency in Vitamin D can contribute to:
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Increased risk of fractures
  • Weakened immune system
  • Depression
 
Unfortunately, living in Canada Vitamin D is a widespread deficiency throughout the year, but mostly during the fall and winter months when sunlight is lacking. 
 
Foods high in Vitamin D include: Salmon, mackerel, sardines, cod liver oil, tuna, beef liver and egg yolks. However, the quantities present in food are small and do not maintain adequate Vitamin D status in the body. Since foods carry a low amount of Vitamin D and sun exposure comes with its risk, supplementation is very, very important. 
 
The recommended dosage for Vitamin D supplementation is generally between 400 IU - 2000 IU/day depending on your age and risk factors. Vitamin D supplements come in two forms: D2 and D3. D3 is the active form of Vitamin D and is the best supplemental form. 
 
 

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are one of the best anti-inflammatories you can consume. There are 3 types of Omega-3’s: ALA, EPA and DHA.  They are mainly found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines and algae. However, essential fatty acids are difficult to maintain the daily requirements even if you are regularly eating fish.
 
Omega 3’s improve:
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Cognitive function
  • Joint health
  • Clear skin
  • Heart health

Omega-3's help to support both physical and mental health and can go a long way to feeling our best in both departments. Omega-3’s are great to have around for both adults and children. In children, they can support healthy brain function. Some fish oil’s have the Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9’s. Keep in mind that the typical North American diet is generally high in Omega 6 and Omega 9, so just focus on the Omega-3’s.

 
Fish oil is the most common way to get these fatty acids into your diet but they care also found in foods like: Avocados, flax, chia seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts. Supplementation is especially important if you eat fish <3 times a week. When supplementing look for about 1000-1500 mg of EPA and 300-600 mg of DHA.
 
 

MAGNESIUM

Magnesium regulates over 300 biochemical reactions in the body to help support:
  • A healthy heart
  • Fat breakdown
  • Muscle contractions
  • DNA repair
  • Hormone health
  • Bone mineral density
  • Healthy glucose levels

 

The body loses magnesium on a daily basis from keeping the heart beating to keep your muscles moving. An interesting side note is high level of carbohydrates and caffeine can actually result in REDUCED magnesium absorption!

Foods high in magnesium include: Spinach quinoa, almonds, cashews, tofu and sesame seeds
 
The recommended dose for Magnesium is 150-200 mg. Be careful as doses above 500 mg at a time can cause extremely loose stools! 
 
 

PROBIOTICS

The human gastrointestinal tract is home to tens of trillions of both ‘friendly’ and ‘unfriendly’ microbes that make up our microbiota.  These microbes are not only found in the gastrointestinal tract but can also be found in skin, urinary tract and vaginal tracts. These little friendly microbes work together to support:
  • Sinus & Respiratory health
  • Digestive health
  • Vaginal & Urogenital health
  • Immune function
  • Skin health
 
Restoring the ratio between ‘friendly’ and ‘unfriendly’ bacteria can be accomplished through lifestyle changes and taking a good quality probiotic. Read my previous post on how to pick the best probiotic for you. 
 
Food items like yogurt and kimchi do have friendly bacteria cultures in them but usually at much lower doses which cannot lead to therapeutic effects. 
 

 

An Important Note On Supplement Quality!

All supplements are NOT created equally. Certain brands are often filled with fillers, dyes and do not contain the recommended amounts of each of the individual vitamins and minerals. The benefits of using higher quality brands include, in house laboratories which offer better quality control; using pure raw material; lower usage of non medicinal ingredients like fillers and ingredient optimization. So, like I said in the beginning of this post, it is very important to assess the number of supplements you take on a regular basis and the quality of them. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Don’t forget, supplements are meant to “supplement” your diet, not replace food. Eating nutrient dense foods to get as many of the vitamins and minerals the body needs should always come first. Supplements help to MAINTAIN health. When shopping for supplements make sure to invest in higher quality brands or speak to your Naturopathic Doctor to see which ones would be best for you!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.