Given the many failings of today’s food I no longer believe that we can get all the nutrients we need from diet alone.
Poor, mineral-depleted soil, heavy pesticide use, toxic oceans and industrial farming practices have taken the good out of most foods.
And so, when I began to take a long, hard look at my lifestyle and diet, I decided to invest in some good quality supplements to give my body a helping hand.
That was about three years ago and, since then, I’ve pruned down my supplement regime to just three stalwarts that have stood the test of time. Here’s why I’ll continue to take them (even though some are quite pricey) and why I believe it’s an investment into my long-term health to do so.
Fermented Fish Oil. Fun story – I bought my mother some fermented cod liver oil capsules and, within days of taking them, her dodgy knees (which had been plaguing her for years) were gone. No more pain. That’s just one small example of how wonderful this stuff is. Rich in Omega 3s and vitamin A, fish oil is not only good for your joints, it’s also great for your brain, your immune system and your heart.
Why fermented? Because the oil is extracted without heat, meaning that the nutrients are intact and easily assimilated by the body. Sure it’s pricey (I get mine from Green Pastures because that’s the brand the Weston A Price Foundation recommend) but it’s worth it.
Vitamin D I live on a Caribbean island that gets about 300 days of sunshine a year (don’t hate me, I pay the price in bugs/hurricanes and a humidity that doesn’t quit) but I still take vitamin D. Why? Because it’s the Clark Kent of vitamins – unassuming, meek and humble but with awesome superpowers (I may have laboured that metaphor).
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with autoimmune disease, cognitive decline, depression and diabetes. I work full time and thus only get the full benefit of my sun-soaked paradise on the weekends, that’s why I supplement. Warning: it is possible to overdo it though, leading to vitamin D toxicity. Some suggest a healthy limit is 4000IU a day.
Milkthistle. I first heard about milkthistle when I was a student. Back in those hedonistic days everyone was looking for the perfect hangover cure and word got about that milkthistle was it. There’s some truth to this rumour. Milkthistle protects the liver by promoting liver tissue regeneration. It basically helps your liver regrow itself. How amazing is that?!
But it’s not the booze I’m taking it for. I am prone to hormonal imbalance. Guess which organ helps keep your hormones on the straight and narrow? Yep, the liver. Taking a daily milkthistle helps me help my liver and everyone’s happy.
Probiotics. Everyone knows the virtue of a good probiotic. I’m a big fan. The only reason they aren’t a part of my daily routine is because I try to eat a lot of fermented foods which naturally contain those ‘good’ immune-system boosting bacteria. Things like sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha are staples of my diet so I’ll only take extra if I feel a cold coming on, or a stomach bug.
Zinc. Numerous studies have shown that zinc can shorten the duration of a cold and lessen the symptoms. That’s why I take it before I fly, when I’m around sick people or in the middle of winter.
Magnesium: This is one for the ladies, and the gym-goers. I reach for the magnesium oil at that time of the month because it’s a great cramp reliever (did you know – if you crave chocolate and suffer from bad PMS chances are you are low in magnesium?) and I also smear it on aching muscles for the very same reason. Tender thighs from too many squats? Rub on some magnesium oil or take a long soak in an epsom salt bath – the best way to get it into your system is through the skin so go for these options rather than a pill.
Multi-vitamins (or as I like to call ’em “expensive pee”). I did used to take multi-vitamins, but then it hit me – I was taking them as a kind of ‘cure all’, hoping that they would cancel out any dietary transgressions.
So instead I ditched the multis and started eating meat….and bone broth….and leafy greens….and fermented foods. I avoid junk food where possible and I take the supplements that I think have real, measurable benefits (see above). My current daily multivitamin is a big, ole spoonful of coconut oil!
And I’m not sweating my decision as, according to Mommypotamus (who’s written an excellent post debunking multis), the nutrients in these pills aren’t even recognised by the body and may have an absorption rate of only 9%!
Oh, and in case you’re thinking: “Well they can’t do me any harm at least”, I know one medical professional who would strongly disagree.
Weigh In: What are your thoughts on my list? what supplements do you take? are you worried about their synthetic additives?
NB: The sharp-eyed among you will notice that this post was originally published last month (when it shouldn’t have been). That was down to a glitch in the matrix, and the post was immediately removed from the site and re-scheduled. Sorry for any confusion!