We use an organized, common sense approach to decipher the myriad of available and touted supplements.
- Is there scientific evidence showing benefit (ie. Fish Oil, Vitamin D3, B Vitamins)?
- Does it make physiologic sense?
- Could there be any harm (ie. Folate dose, Selenium, St. John’s Wart)?
- Do you know the exact ingredients (ie. Herbs)?
Must Have Supplements…
- Essential Fatty Acids (Omega-3s) – In 2003, the American Cardiac Association recommended that all people with heart health problems should supplement with essential fatty acids. The typical American diet does not include close to enough heart-healthy omega-3s. Since your body can’t make them on its own, they are vitally important. Research has continually supported the use of omega-3s for supporting a healthy heart and reducing irritation causing underlying chronic diseases. Essential fatty acids also provide support for healthy joints, muscles, and skin, and help soothe the gastrointestinal tract. Interestingly, omega-3’s are also thought to encourage healthy, happy moods and improve symptoms of depression.
- Vitamin D3 – Almost every single type of tissue and cell present in the body contains crucial vitamin D receptors. The body needs sunlight exposure to the skin to produce vitamin D and a shocking 75% of teens and adults lack this essential vitamin for cell and tissue function. Vitamin D is celebrated for its ability to fight collagen buildup in the arteries, encourage healthy moods, bolster muscle function, and more. Several studies demonstrate at least 2,000 IU per day is needed to reach optimal levels of vitamin D in the blood, while others suggest that doses closer to 1,000 IU per day are sufficient for supporting bone density in older women. Our goal is to get blood levels of vitamin D3 up to between 50 and 75 ng/mL. Additionally, experts agree that vitamin D3 is the most efficient form of vitamin D, found to increase levels of vitamin D in the body more rapidly than other forms.
- B Complex Vitamins – Studies report that around 20% of the U.S. population is deficient in vitamin B12. As we age, our intestinal ability to absorb B vitamins decreases. B vitamins are also involved in the methylation of proteins, which helps avoid DNA and/or gene dysfunction. Additionally, B vitamins are thought to help regulate homocysteine levels in the blood stream. Homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood that comes mostly from eating meat, has been associated with countless health problems, namely cardiovascular complications. As an added bonus, B vitamins encourage healthy moods and help support detoxification of the liver and kidneys.
- Whey Protein – Whey protein is essential for its tissue-repairing amino acid power. A complete protein, whey contains all nine essential amino acids and is often used to improve lean muscle mass. Made up of proteins extracted from dairy sources, whey is thought to boost immune function and increase glutathione production, an essential antioxidant for detoxification.
- Melatonin – The body’s natural sleep hormone is known to increase stage 4 and REM sleep. Also improves mood and energy. Melatonin has a positive effect on the immune system and is a strong antioxidant.
- Magnesium Glycinate – Magnesium Glycinate is absorbed better than other magnesium preparations because it is bound by an amino acid, making it more bio-available and there is no laxative effect. It is important for exercise as your body needs Mg available for muscle metabolism and function (part of the Krebs cycle) and we don’t typically get enough in our diets. Mg is important in healthy bone development and reducing risk of osteoporosis. Inadequate levels of magnesium can reduce serotonin levels in the brain.
Consider the following supplements…
- Alpha Lipoic Acid – An abundant antioxidant found in broccoli, spinach, liver, and kidney beans, alpha lipoic acid (ALA) increases muscle metabolism and can reduce insulin resistance in cell membranes, thus earning recognition as a weight management supplement. As for the heart, ALA is thought to reverse damage incurred by the arteries, lower blood pressure, and support healthy circulation. ALA increases the body’s stores of glutathione, an absolutely vital antioxidant that binds with toxins like heavy metals and escorts them out of the body.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine and Glutathione – N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine and a precursor to an amino acid, glutathione. Because NAC is more stable than L-cysteine, it is quickly metabolized into glutathione once it enters the body. Used to thin mucous in the respiratory tract and to treat Tylenol overdoses, NAC is a potent cell and liver detoxifier. For those suffering from leaky gut syndrome, N-acetyl cysteine can help strengthen the protective lining of the stomach and intestines. Extensive research on the use of glutathione for treating Parkinson’s disease has shown dramatic improvements in mobility.
- L-Tryptophan – L-tryptophan is the least abundant amino acid in our diet. When our bodies are functioning properly, L-tryptophan is converted first into 5-hydroxytrytophan (5-HTP), then into the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin, which ultimately becomes melatonin (all with a little assistance from B vitamins). L-tryptophan takes the place of pharmaceutical sleep aids by naturally stimulating feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and beta-endorphins that help relieve stress.
- Resveratrol – This popular weight management supplement is purported to protect cells against environmental damage and toxins. Touted as a potent ally for weight control, resveratrol works by reducing the prevalence of the protein SIRT, which tricks the body into restricting calories. Found in red wine, red grape skins, mulberries, and in small amounts in peanuts, resveratrol may also prevent against oxidative damage and help maintain healthy levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol.
- Indol-3-Carbinol – This powerful glutathione precursor is found in all sorts of fruits and veggies, including cherries, grapes, peaches, apricots, spinach, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, and cruciferous vegetables. It is thought to be an important anticancer supplement by increasing glutathione levels, I3C helps rid the body of toxins, specifically xeno-estrogens, which can cause damage to sexual tissues.
- Curcumin – Turmeric, the spice loaded with its active compound, curcumin, is the only herb worth considering. In recent years curcumin has dominated headlines and trumped pharmaceuticals as a super supplement for over 600 preventative and therapeutic uses. A celebrated spice in India for thousands of years, turmeric curcumin is a precursor to glutathione. Turmeric is best known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to fortify the body’s cells against threats like mutation, plaque buildup, and irritation.