My Top 5 Supplement Picks

Here are my top picks to keep your thrive on! Read on to discover the benefits of each supplement, signs you may need them and what to look for in a good quality supplement.

B Complex

Used in a variety of processes from metabolism and energy production to supporting liver detoxification and nerve function, B vitamins are important for cardiovascular health[1], regulating stress, energy production and fertility[2][3][4]. As water soluble vitamins, Bs are not stored by the body and daily intake is necessary.


Signs you may need B support:

  • Fatigue

  • Numbness & tingling

  • Mood swings, irritability and/or low mood

  • Sore, burning tongue or lips

Key things to spot in a good quality B complex is that it has B12 and folate in methylated form (ex. methylcobalamin or methylB12 & methylfolate) making it easier for the body to use. It should also have B6 in P-5-P (pyridoxal-5-phosphate) form. Most people report experiencing better energy and mood when taking a good quality B complex in adequate dosages.


Magnesium

Magnesium is necessary for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body making the benefits of its supplementation pretty extensive[5]. From calming the nervous system to lowering blood pressure and supporting insulin sensitivity, magnesium is likely the top supplement that I recommend.


Signs you may need magnesium:

  • Chronic muscle tension or muscle spasms

  • Chronic headache or migraines

  • Constipation

  • Anxiety

There are many different forms of magnesium on the market and each is indicated for different purposes. Magnesium oxide is the cheapest and most commonly sold form but studies show that it has poor absorption [6] and a tendency to cause diarrhea. Generally I prefer magnesium citrate for constipation and magnesium bisglycinate for muscle tension and anxiety. Many people on magnesium will report less muscle tension, better sleep and easier bowel movements. Too much or the wrong form of magnesium can lead to an upset stomach and loose stools.


Vitamin C

Vitamin C is considered an essential nutrient because we humans lack the ability to make our own. Well known for its immune supportive properties, vitamin C is also very important for collagen production, wound healing, antioxidant protection and it acts as an antihistamine in large amounts. Similar to the B vitamins, vitamin C is water soluble and required daily[7].


Signs you may need vitamin C[8]:

  • Frequent colds or flus

  • Sore and/or bleeding gums

  • Corkscrew hair

  • Dry, bumpy skin with redness around the hair follicles

  • Soft, spoon shaped nails

  • Easy bruising and/or slow wound healing

Most generic vitamin C's are similar in bioavailability and I'm typically not picky with vitamin C brands or forms. However, if your stomach is sensitive or prone to diarrhea then opt for a buffered vitamin C which helps to reduce these effects especially if taking vitamin C at higher doses. If you and your health care practitioner have determined a need for larger doses, then consider liposomal vitamin C which enhances absorption significantly[9].


Adrenal Support

With the increased stress of modern life and the added strain of the pandemic, many of us need to support our body's ability to handle stress[10]. Adrenal support is something I suggest for those who are constantly "on the go" and have difficulty relaxing, or vice versa, for those who have been "on the go" for too long and are feeling burnt out, sluggish and generally exhausted.


Signs you may need adrenal support:

  • Chronic fatigue or fatigue despite adequate sleep

  • Needing caffeine or some form of stimulant to function

  • Sugar and/or salt cravings

  • Feeling easily overwhelmed

  • Moodiness and irritability

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy on getting up too fast

  • Brain fog or difficulty concentrating

There are many different formulations of adrenal supplements and most of them are based on some combination of B vitamins, magnesium, adaptogenic (aka helps the body resist the effect of stressors) and/or nervine (calming) herbs. Which one will support you best depends on the symptoms that you're presenting with, how well your body seems to be handling stress and what stage of adrenal fatigue you may be in. Speak with your practitioner to find a formulation that is most appropriate and beneficial for you.


Probiotic

Our health is intrinsically tied to the health of our gut bacteria. The effects of our microbiota (community of gut organisms) goes beyond digestion impacting our risk for heart disease[11][12], depression[13][14], immune imbalance [15][16] and obesity[17][18].


Signs you may need a probiotic:

  • Digestive problems: constipation, diarrhea, bloating, excess, malodorous gas

  • Multiple food sensitivity

  • High sugar diet

  • Autoimmune disease (ex. rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease)

  • Extensive history of or recent use of antibiotics

  • Recent case of food poisoning, traveler's diarrhea or stomach flu

  • Skin irritation (ex. eczema, psoriasis, hives)

  • Recurrent infections (UTI, yeast infection, recurrent cold/flu[19][20])

Though it's best to work with a health care provider to select a probiotic appropriate for your health needs, a good quality probiotic to support general health should contain several strains of bacteria, consist of at least 1 billion colony forming units (CFU) and be enteric-coated to allow the bacteria to reach your large intestine without being destroyed by stomach acid[21].


Why you may need to supplement:


Age:

As we age our appetite, sense of taste & smell declines affecting our dietary choices which may reduce the intake of nutrient dense foods. In addition to this our ability to digest food, absorb and assimilate nutrients like iron, B12 and magnesium declines with age.


Medications:

Many of the drugs that are prescribed can impact our ability to absorb, use and make certain nutrients. Some of the most concerning, commonly used medications that cause nutrient depletions are acid suppressants (ex. PPIs), birth control, blood pressure lowering and diabetic prescriptions. For a more complete list and details see pharmacist.com for their list of "Most common drug-nutrient depletions".


Poor Diet:

Most of us eat less than the recommended 5-10 servings of vegetables and fruits (on average people report 0-3 servings in clinic) which puts us at risk for vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient depletions. It's important to consider the type of diet you're eating and what nutrient deficiencies you're at risk for. For example a keto diet is low in minerals, while a vegetarian or vegan diet is potentially low in B vitamins and iron.


Disorder & disease:

Conditions that cause chronic inflammation or digestive problems can promote nutrient depletion or impair absorption and assimilation. Diabetes is associated with B12, iron [22] and magnesium[23] deficiency, while a history of gallbladder removal can impact the absorption of fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D[24].


Stress:

Stress can impact how quickly we use nutrients, digestion and how well we absorb nutrients. High stress, whether physical, mental or emotional can impact nutrient levels [25].


Obesity:

Studies show that being obese can lead to nutrient deficiencies through poor metabolism, absorption and storage of nutrients in fat tissue[26] which may result in higher risk of diabetes[27].



Though it would be great to fix all of our problems with just 5 supplements, these are simply the top 5 that I most commonly recommend in practice due to a common trend of high stress and poor eating habits. It is in no way an endorsement to go and purchase supplements without consulting your practitioner. We are all unique and a "one-size fits all" approach can often miss the mark to achieving great wellness goals. Please speak to your health practitioner for individualized advice and a targeted treatment plan to fit your unique needs.



In health & wellness,




REFERENCES:

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  15. Liu Y, Alookaran JJ, Rhoads JM. Probiotics in Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1537. Published 2018 Oct 18. doi:10.3390/nu10101537

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