How to Know Which Supplements You Need (Free Guide)

How to Know Which Supplements You Need (Free Guide)

One of the first questions I ask when I first begin working with a new client is . . .

What supplements are you currently taking?

The next question is . . .

When did you start taking them and why?

Followed by . . .

How often and how much of each nutrient do you take?

The answers are usually all over the board and range from “I don’t take anything” to a list of 20 or more bottles sitting in a cabinet and that’s often what those bottles do…sit in the cabinet.

The “why” behind choosing a supplement is even MORE varied. Sometimes people start a supplement they read about. Sometimes a friend suggests something. Occasionally an MD or ND made a recommendation along the way. Marketing trends make certain nutrients a fad for awhile.

Supplements can be very confusing and it can be hard to tell if any given nutrient plan is working.

That’s why I want to share:

* My OVERALL philosophy about supplements (it might surprise you that I recommend very few things for the long term)
* Which nutrient levels you should test before you ever take a supplement
* How to know if you really need a supplement
* How to choose a quality supplement that will really work

And

*My top recommendations for supplements to take for the long term (and why)

One Whole Health Philosophy on Supplements:

I believe our absolute BEST nutrition comes from real, whole food . . . period. Take the example of an apple – it has over 500 phyto-nutrients that work in beautiful symphony TOGETHER. Any one part cannot replace the effectiveness of the miraculous whole. A man-made Vit C or Vit A simply does not provide the body the same nutrition as a real apple.(organic of course!) That’s my idealistic philosophy that is the standard we should all strive toward. That said, our food is compromised, our soil is compromised and our digestive systems are compromised which dilutes the possibility to always live by that philosophy. Therefore, it is important to supplement IF YOU ARE LACKING or to heal a deficiency BUT know WHY you are taking that supplement and re-evaluate in 6 months to a year because the body WILL adapt and change in that time.

Supplements I Recommend For Most People For The Long Term:

Every “body” is bio-individual and for that reason should be approached with a unique combination of nutrient support. In general . . . there are only 3 supplements I suggest long term for most people:

Iodine – needed by every cell in the body and especially important for the brain, the thyroid, the breasts and the prostrate and for detoxification heavy metals as well as for building immunity. (there are many more benefits)

Fish Oil  the brain is comprised of 60% fat and needs its Omega 3’s. (we need Omega 6 and 9 too but not in equally large amounts – a 2-1 Omega 6 to Omega 3 is ideal) Our standard diet tends to contain an overage of Omega 6’s from things like vegetable oils and these block the receptor sites for Omega 3 causing inflammation – an environment that promotes all disease.  The exception is to my recommendation of Fish Oil is for those who are Pyroluric. See my separate blog on that.

Juice Plus – before you tune out thinking  – oh, that is a direct marketing product and therefore not good – let me tell you quickly what it is and why it’s on my list. Juice Plus is simply a large amount of vegetables and fruits (and berries and a few grains), juiced with the skin (fiber), and powderized at low temperature and put in a capsule for a convenient way to eat 17-26 servings of these naturally miraculous healing foods. We all know vegetables and fruits are beneficial to us. JP is a way to fill the gap between what we know and what we actually eat.

Here’s the thing about all 3 of my Long Term recommendations:

They all are based on real, whole food. They increase the amount of these foods most people can possibly eat by their convenient capsule or tablet form. They don’t replace food, but they enhance the amount of key nutrients most people can consume in a day.

When to Take Other Supplements:

That is everything I suggest in the long term. Three supplements. That might sound strange coming from a Neuro Nutrition Therapist who writes customized repair plans that include at least a dozen more supplements taken multiple times a day.This brings me to my point of knowing when to take a supplement.

Beyond the long term recommendations, I suggest you only take supplements you KNOW you need and only for the short term.  Nutrient deficiencies can be identified by blood tests or, in the case of amino acids and a few others, by symptom assessments.  That is what I base my Neuro Nutrient Plans on – a combination of blood tests and assessments. It is equally important to retest your nutrient levels in 6 months time (or sooner) to see if the levels have been restored and to stop the supplement once they have.

The human body is a brilliant bio-computer making millions of micro-adjustments every second. If given a chance, it will heal itself by itself.
The human body is a brilliant bio-computer making millions of micro-adjustments every second.
If given a chance, it will heal itself by itself.

Take the Test Before Ever Supplementing These Nutrients:

Toxicity can occur by taking any nutrient you don’t need. There are a few nutrients where this is more common. That is why I never suggest supplementing the following without a test:

Vit D
Vit B12
Iodine (*this is best assessment by a 24 hour urine loading test)

I also suggest assessing Pyroluria (stay tuned for a blog post on this in the future) and taking the test for MTHFR gene snps before supplementing high level of P-5-P or Methylated Folate. Not all bodies and brain need the same level of nutrient support where these conditions apply.

As far as hormones – cortisol or sex hormones – ALWAYS TEST to know exact levels and partner with a practitioner to tailor the “prescription” for your body.

How to Find A Good Quality Supplement:

This is tricky business in the world of supplements, so here’s some guidelines on which you can base your choice.

  1. Find good research on your supplement. There is anecdotal research for just anything these days so look for GOLD STANDARD research (those exact words which indicate placebo and double blind testing). Verify that the research is PRIMARY (using the actual supplement) and not borrowed (using an ingredient from the supplement in general). If research is not available, you can call the company and ask for purity levels of key ingredients.
  2. Ask yourself if it just makes sense. I know vegetables and fruits have countless benefits due to their anti-oxidants so a supplement using real, whole vegetables and fruits makes sense to me. As you would with food, read the label and look for supplements with the fewest ingredients.
  3. You be the final judge. Conduct your own trial. Give vitamins and minerals 6 months to have an effect. Re-evaluate . . . do you feel better? In order to conduct your own research, it is critical to take a supplement consistently – every day possible, multiple times.

I hope this helps simplify your supplement choices.

[Tweet “Remember, supplements never replace real, whole food.”]

Never under-estimate the healing ability of the human body. If given a chance, the body will heal itself, by itself with little outside interference. Stress is interference, so one last point is that whether you stress about taking a supplement or you stress about not taking it, the perceived stress negatively affects the results that very supplement could possibly have. Make a choice you are comfortable with and listen to your body for guidance.

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