My top supplements

Don't get me wrong, food should always come before supplements, and as a nutritionist I always try to get most of my vitamins and minerals as well as nutrients through the food I eat but sometimes this isn't enough. Sometimes we need more support.

In cases such as poor diet, illnesses, healing, and deficiencies, supplements can come in handy or even be mandatory. In addition, as most of our food quality and soil isn't what it used to be it can be difficult obtaining everything we need from food alone. Especially if you aren't able to eat local and organic.

But as with everything, quality is always more important than quantity. There are many supplement brands out there but you want to make sure that you are choosing a supplement that is easily absorbed and available to the body and has been well sourced.

If you have limited knowledge on supplements it's always a good idea to ask a practitioner for their advice or visit a health food store where they have knowledgeable staff who can guide you.

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There are some supplements I take everyday and some that I take on and off depending on my diet, energy, overall symptoms, etc. Here I will be sharing my top supplements and why they are important:

 

 

Vitamin D3 (with K2)

Otherwise known as the "sunshine" vitamin, this guy is an absolute must!

In the summer time when I am in the sun all day I ditch the vitamin D because we can absorb it through our skin from the sunlight. But during the fall, winter, and spring, Vancouver is simply too rainy and grey, and when it is sunny it is simply not enough for us to absorb through our face. In northern hemispheres vitamin D deficiency is so common and is a real concern. Vitamin D is responsible for so many functions in the body and it can help prevent many degenerative diseases. There are two forms of vitamin D: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol).

D2 is found in plant sources such as mushrooms and leagy greens. D3 is found in animal sources such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and cheese.

Vitamin D3 has been shown to be more absorbable and efficient in the body. Vitamin D supplementation supports bone and teeth health as it helps increase calcium absorption, and it is also important for immune function and the nervous system. As a fat soluble vitamin it is recommended to take along with fats or in a fish oil. Make sure you take vitamin K2 along with vitamin D3 as the K2 helps drive the vitamin D3 into the bone and support cardiovascular health. These two vitamins are very common deficiencies and have been shown to work better together than alone.

These vitamins can make a big difference with your mood, immune function, bone health, and help prevent many degenerative diseases such as cancers.

1,000 IU is usually the recommended dosage however higher doses have been shown to be more effective. I take about 5,000 IU per day but it is not recommended to exceed 10,000 IU per day. Check in with your health care provider to find the best dose for you.

 

Omega 3 Fish Oil

Essential fatty acids are absolutely essential for the body, hence the name. Which means we need to obtain them from our diet, or supplementation, as our bodies do not produce them. Omega 3 fatty acids include EPA and DHA and these can be found in fish oils as well as algae and krill. Fatty fish are great sources of EPA and DHA and include salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.

EPA and DHA have many protective functions such as cardiovascular protection, anti-inflammatory, and mood and brain function. Omega 3 supplementation can help support PMS, hormonal disorders, weight loss, blood sugar levels, and cognitive function.

For prevention and cardiovascular health 1000 mg of EPA & DHA is the minimum daily recommended dose. If you aren't regularly eating wild fatty fish I would recommend investing in a good quality fish oil.

I like Nordic Naturals, Ascenta Naturals and New Roots.

 

B Vitamin Complex

B vitamins are another common deficiency. There are a number of different B vitamins and they are have different functions and work synergistically in the body. Common deficiencies include B12 and B6. 
If you are deficient in B-vitamins you may feel an immediate difference with supplementation and increased energy levels.

A B complex is recommended for supporting energy levels, adrenal fatigue and burnout, healthy nervous system function, and hormonal balance. 

Nutritional yeast is a wonderful way to get a good dose of B vitamins! But otherwise it can be difficult to get all of the B's in on a daily basis and this is where supplementation comes in.

I like New Roots Ultra B Complex, Thorne Stress B Complex, and AOR B Complex Ultra.

 

Magnesium

The miracle mineral. Magnesium is incredible as it is needed for so many reactions in the body. But it is commonly deficient in many people. One of the reasons is probably due to stress because this depletes magnesium as well as environmental toxins. Some food sources of magnesium include cacao, leafy greens, and nuts and seeds. But this is rarely enough because most of us are chronically stressed which causes magnesium to be dumped out of our system. I take magnesium regularly to support my hormones and my adrenal glands, and promote relaxation. Magnesium is important for energy production, blood sugar balance, thyroid function, and calms your nervous system, to name a few. It's great for PMS, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and recovery after exercise.

Beware though what form you are taking! Magnesium oxide, citrate, and malate can cause diarrhea. If you are not dealing with constipation stick with Magnesium bysglicinate! 

 

Probiotics

Probiotics are our "friendly" bacteria in our gut. The adult intestines contain more than 500 organisms, harmful and beneficial. Our beneficial microbes have many functions and include assisting in digestion, producing certain B vitamins and vitamin K, protecting against harmful pathogens, and supporting the immune system. They are easily depleted or wiped out though through poor diet, antibiotics, medications, stress, unfiltered water, GMO foods, and chemicals. This is why many of us experience dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, which results in many digestive symptoms and can lead to chronic diseases and lowered immune function.

You can support your gut ecosystem by eating fermented foods, probiotic rich foods and prebiotics. Probiotic rich foods include kefir, sauerkraut, natto, kimchi, kombucha, and miso. Prebiotics feed your gut bacteria and include chicory root, artichoke, dandelion greens, onions, leeks, garlic, and asparagus.

When choosing a probiotic supplement, always make sure it is a high quality product. Choose enteric coated (to ensure the probiotics make it all the way to the colon), live and active cultures, a minimum of 15 billion CFU, 10-30 different strains of bacteria, and a good quality brand like Dr. Ohhira's or Garden of Life.

If you haven't read my post on digestion, go check it out ! Digestion is at the root of good health as it affects the whole body.

 

Vitamin C

I up my vitamin C intake during the winter to boost my immune system and prevent getting sick! Vitamin C can be found in colourful fruits and vegetables such as kiwi, grapefruit, bell peppers, oranges, and broccoli. Vitamin C is needed for the formation of collagen (a protein that makes up our skin, bones, ligaments, connective tissue, and teeth), supports adrenal function under stress, supports thyroid hormone production, and stimulates the immune function, to name just a few of its functions in the body! When choosing a supplement look for flavonoids included in the formula as these phytonutrients provide antioxidants and promote better absorption of vitamin C in the body. 

Vitamin C is used up in the body in about 4 hours so frequent and divided dosing is recommended. Excess vitamin C can cause diarrhea so be sure to start small! Maintenance doses usually range from 1000mg to 3000mg.

 

Though supplements can't and should not replace your diet, they are sometimes very much needed. Some things like vitamin D3 and magnesium are recommended for long-term use whereas some others may only be needed for short term use. It all depends on your bio individuality, your health concerns, and your environment. Supplements can be a great support and enhance your overall wellbeing but always choose quality over quantity to get the best results and avoid any unwanted additives or allergens. You always want to choose companies that actually test their products and are sourced ethically and sustainably. Always check with your health care provider if you are taking medications or are pregnant before taking supplements.

Laurence Annez