Myths About My Body: Naturopathic Supplements
Are there supplements I should definitely take or can I avoid them altogether with a good diet? Does that change through different ages?
Herbs and supplements are usually very individual and it is most beneficial and therapeutic to work with a Naturopathic Doctor or Functional Medicine Doctor to create a customized treatment plan that is individual to you. In a perfect world, we should be able to get all the nutrients and minerals we need from a well rounded, nutrient dense, whole foods diet. But unfortunately, with the level of toxicity in our environment and mineral depletion in the soil in our modern world, sometimes food isn't enough and that's where therapeutic doses of certain supplements, herbs and vitamins may be helpful. With that said, a few things I would recommend are the following:
A good omega fatty acid in the form of fish oil or algae oil
This brings up the larger conversation of supplement quality, strength and manufacturing standards. For my own patients, I recommend a combination of physician grade nutraceuticals that patients can only get through doctors as well as high quality consumer brands. Not all consumer brands—even the ones you find at Whole Foods—are created equal. For fish oil and algae oil, I like this omega supplement & recommend the highest dose of EPA plus DHA you can find and afford. Bare minimum would be 1,000mg of EPA and DHA combined. However, if you are experiencing mood, cognitive, or hormonal imbalances or inflammation, I often recommend 1,000-3,000mg of EPA and 1000mg DHA.
Another bit of clinical advice is to stick to omega 3 fatty acids. We generally get enough omega-6 and omega-9 through diet and it's important to shift the ratio more towards omega-3 for its anti inflammatory and hormone balancing effects so don't be seduced by fish oil supplements that say "contains omega 3, 6, and 9." More isn't always better.
Although this also requires a longer conversation and in my office, I only prescribe a physician grade human strain microflora blend, some form of probiotics either through food or supplementing is important because we lose gut flora through our stool on a daily basis and probiotics have such an impact on the health and development of our immune system, locally as well as systemically. Again, for maintenance, a food source might be enough but if someone is suffering from deeper health imbalances like autoimmune disease, SIBO, candida, etc., a higher quality and higher dose supplement might be needed. At The Thirlby, we recommend these ones for daily useage & these ones after antiobiotic useage or medical procedures.
Make sure to get your blood levels tested. Conventional medicine says a level of 30 is within range and an M.D. would generally say everything is "normal" if your blood levels are at a 30. In my practice, I see Vitamin D levels as low as 10. However, for optimal health, I prefer to see Vitamin D levels closer to the 50-70 range. Generally, 2000 I.U. is good for maintenance but 5000-10,000 IU may be needed to actually help raise levels. And remember, Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin but a hormone, so it has many different functions in the body including skin health, hormone health and immune health. With that said, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and can build up in the body so if you're supplementing with amounts that are 5000 IU or higher, so work with your doctor to monitor your blood levels. Make sure to also eat adequate amounts of healthy fats so the Vitamin D can be properly absorbed and assembled within the body. We recommend this one as it lasts a long time & is additive-free, suspended in organic olive oil.
A good overall B Complex like this one can help with energy and help support the adrenals (since we all know that everyone is under stress these days).
Magnesium glycinate like this one or this magnesium malate is also a good supplement and something most people can benefit from because over 200 cellular pathways in the body utilize magnesium and it can easily get depleted with stress. It is also symptomatically helpful for relaxing the nervous system & thus calming anxiety by providing gentle energy over time. This is because it helps the body produce ATP, i.e. the body's energy source. It also helps relieve muscle cramping, such as exercise-induced, injury or menstrual cramps.