Which Supplements are Worth Taking?
If you go into anyone’s home, and I guarantee, they have a couple, to several, to many supplements. Most of which they are not even taking. In fact, look around your own home. I am sure you and your family have a few too many bottles of supplements that you do not use. With tv shows like Dr. Oz, magazine articles, catalogs, the internet, supplements are hot right now.
There are so many claims made that supplements are the cure-all of many ailments. From improving energy to staying youthful. ‘Reduce this ailment,’ ‘eliminate that ailment,’ all with the power of vitamins. Some supplements claim to increase your sexual vigor, lose weight, grow hair, lower cholesterol and so forth. While sounding a bit “too good to be true,” we are still compelled to buy them.
Even a well-meaning friend will give you “their story” of how this supplement worked for them. So you buy into their distribution, and now you have 12 bottles of gas-plus sitting in your pantry. Seriously, what supplements are worth taking?
As a physician, I have patients that bring in garbage bags of supplements that they take inconsistently to frequently. Honestly, I tell them, if you invested the money you spend on these supplements, in any other investment. You would get a better pay off in twenty years. Now I do staunchly believe in the power of supplementation.
I think the right supplement, provided it is selected for a particular individual’s system, being of the highest quality ingredients without toxins. And choosing the right supplements for specific health goals and conditions.
Proper supplementation can really improve quality of life, reduce potential genetic issues and help one’s overall health enormously. But selecting the correct supplement for a particular individual’s needs and is a whole other blog post itself. But to keep it short, this is what I think should be the bare bones of a supplement regime.
Methylcobalamin: a sublingual form of B12. Vitamin B12 is found predominately in animal protein sources. Whether you are a vegan or not, I think we all could use B12. It is water soluble, and you cannot “take too much.” And in the stressed-out world, we live in; we could all use a little extra vitamin B12.
Don’t get me started on MTHFR and genetics as that is super important in health and longevity. And methylcobalamin is a critical cofactor in the MTHFR mutation. I like this one because it has a whopping 5000 mcg of methylcobalamin in this small tablet. As well as 1000 mcg of the proper methylated source of folate (6S-5-Methyltetrahydrofolic acid glucosamine). My favorite product is Methyl B12.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Or at least some kind of omega-3 fatty acid (if you are vegan and cannot ingest fish). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to life and are the best natural anti-inflammatory. Every single cell in our body has a lipid (fat) membrane. By ingesting healthy omega-3 fatty acids, it helps the integrity of our cells. It can also help reduce inflammation in our joints. Our brains are made up of a significant amount of fat. Ingesting healthy fat is excellent for our brains. I like this one because you only have to take one or two capsules a day. As opposed to other omegas, you have to take 3-6 to get a proper serving size of omega-3 fatty acids. My favorite is OrthOmega by OrthoMolecular Products.
Probiotic: A good broad-spectrum probiotic is fantastic in maintaining the balance of your gut microbiome. It helps keep the pathogenic organisms from overgrowing. And just as important it helps improve your immune system. That is because 80% of our immune system is in our gut/gastrointestinal tract. It protects us from the pathogens of the outside world. A good probiotic can also help with bloating, diarrhea and constipation. I like this one because it has a broad spectrum of beneficial bacteria. And it has Saccharomyces boulardii in it, which kills candida and Clostridium difficile. Again, my favorite is Ortho Biotic by Ortho Molecular Products
Right now we are going to jump into the magic of tidying up your supplements. Akin to Marie Kondo’s philosophy of decluttering (fantastic book, highly recommend if you haven’t heard of it, which means you have been living under a rock for the last several years).
I am going to break it down into four simple steps to decluttering the supplements that you do not need.
Step One: Get ALL of your supplements and put them on in front of you. If you are like me, then you have them in every room of your house. Check all of the bathrooms and bedrooms. They are tucked in several cabinets and pantry of your kitchen. I bet there are some hidden in the glovebox of your car. Get them all and put them in front of you. You might need a large space to put them all in front of you. Who would have thought you’d have so many!
Step Two: Look for the expiration dates. And throw away all the expired supplements you have. Well, that thinned the pile probably by at least a third.
Step Three: This step needs to be robotic, don’t think too hard about this. Throw Away any supplement that you have not taken in the last 30 days. Seriously, do not ponder this step. Just throw away any supplement you have not taken in the previous 30 days.
Do not Think:
“Oh, I will start taking it and at least finish the bottle.”
“I don’t want to waste the money I spent on this vitamin.”
“Let me take a few capsules right now.”
“Maybe family member/friend/coworker/homeless guy on the corner could use this.”
Stop right there; you will never finish that bottle. If you stopped taking it in the first place, it must not be that great anyway. Don’t put it in the donate pile. Because really, who wants an opened bottle of some supplement a stranger donated, eeew! Throw it away.
Exception: If you have specific supplements that you only take at certain times, such as:
- When you feel like you are catching a cold
- When you are traveling
When a discourteous co-worker decides to come to work sick, EHB by Integrative Therapeutics is what I typically suggest to take right when you start getting sick. Also, GUNA FLU is an excellent homeopathic to help if you are sick or have recently caught the flu/virus.
You can use when traveling to different time zones to help with Jet Lag. When you need a good night sleep, Melatonin is great to help you fall asleep or for jet lag. Also, Kavinace by Neuroscience is great to help you stay asleep.
If you get any indigestion after eating a huge holiday meal you can use Digestzyme to help you properly digest.
For travel constipation (very common in us girls) you can use Super Aloe by OrthoMolecular Products.
In these cases: Keep that supplement, but only if it is not expired.
Step Four: Now what you have left are the supplements that you want to take. It might be one supplement, or it might be several. Either way, these are your little soldiers to health and need to be treated with respect. Place them where you will take them regularly, and they are in sight. I am sure you are familiar with pillbox holders. There are daily to weekly containers to store your vitamins. These pill containers are a great way to remember to take your supplements. I have had many frantic patients call the office because they cannot remember if they took their medication.
They want to know if they should take another one or wait. A pillbox container would tell you if you had taken your supplement that day or not. The goal of supplementation is to take them regularly. Like exercise, you need a consistent routine, or you won’t see any results. And if you are looking for benefits from a supplement, such as reducing cholesterol, reducing joint pain, hair growth, clearing up the skin and so forth. Give the supplement at least six weeks up to 12 weeks for results to occur. Supplements can be a fantastic adjunct for your health, but they are not magic.
If you have night time supplements, like the melatonin and Kavinace, put them in a small container beside your bed with a bottle of water. If you have morning supplements, such as my favs, B12 sublingual and pregnenolone, I actually take them to work and keep them in my desk, so I take them regularly.
Put your morning supplements somewhere that you can remember to take them regularly Even if that is right by your toothbrush. And if you don’t brush your teeth every morning, well, supplementation is not the only thing we need to focus on. Google “benefits of good oral hygiene and getting your make-out on.” Supplements that need to be taken with food such as zinc and vitamin B6 (do not, repeat do not take these on an empty stomach, holy-hurl!), keep those in your kitchen so that you take them when you eat.
As I said before, I believe in the power of supplementation. For health, you don’t have to take so many supplements that it starts to feel like a part-time job. Be regular and consistent with the ones you do take. I hope the magic of tidying up your supplements helps you with your daily health habits. Or at least clears out a cabinet to keep your DVD collection of Game of Thrones (wait this is not the 90’s, mine are all in the cloud).
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to [email protected].