Sorry to break the bad news guys … but most supplements are garbage. Many supplements don’t contain what they say they contain, most are unnecessary and some may even be contraindicated for you. This is why it’s important that you always work with a licensed Naturopathic doctor or MD with extensive functional medicine training when it comes to building your individualized supplement protocol. (Please note: online training courses, diploma programs and weekend seminars do not count as sufficient natural medicine training. Naturopathic doctors spend a minimum of 8 years learning the ins & outs of biomedical sciences, nutrition, pharmacology, herbal medicine and functional supplementation in order to be qualified to prescribe natural medicine products).
Even though most of the supplements currently sitting in your medicine cabinet are likely useless, this doesn’t mean that all supplements are a waste of your money. Vitamins and herbs can be a powerful part of your holistic health plan when you’re actually taking the right prescriptions in the correct doses. The quality, dosage, form and consistency of your supplements has a huge impact on whether or not they will actually be effective. The two most important qualities to look for in a supplement are third party testing and standardized evidence-based forms & potencies. When a supplement company uses third party testing it means that they frequently send out samples to external labs in order to guarantee consistency and dosing. This ensures quality and consistency, and we don’t carry any supplement brands in the clinic that don’t offer a 3rd party certificate of analysis for the ingredients used in their products. Quality is key to safe and effective supplementation and the ingredients and doses used in the supplements I personally take are clinically proven in human research. If this all sounds complicated, that’s because it is! There are so many factors that go in to determining which supplements are right for YOU, and it requires extensive training in natural medicine to truly understand the ins & outs of effective supplement prescribing. Unfortunately, this means that if you’ve self-prescribed a bunch of supplements from your local pharmacy or Costco, chances are that you’re doing it wrong.
All that being said, the right supplements can be a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to achieving optimal health. We live in crazy times. We’re busier than ever, over worked, and undernourished, which makes it difficult to live in a state of vitality, energy and abundant health without a little help. Even if you’re eating a ‘perfect diet’ (which, let’s face it – you’re not! I’ve seen those diet diaries people) most of us don’t get enough nutrient density from our favourite foods. Studies show that conventional farming practices like pesticide use and mono-cropping lead to fruits and vegetables that contain way less nutritional value than the food our grandparents ate. We’re also exposed to a lot more stress and pollution, which increases a person’s overall nutritional requirements. This is why I take a few key supplements every single day to maintain my energy and improve my overall health. Today, I’m giving you a sneak peak at my natural medicine cabinet to inspire you to develop your own daily supplement routine. Even though these are the daily supplements that support my lifestyle and leave me feeling my best it’s still important that you work with a professional to create your own personalized supplement protocol. Here’s a sneak peak inside this doctor’s natural medicine cabinet at the 6 supplements that I take daily:
Inositol is a powerful female hormone normalizer with studies showing that can it can improve ovulation, restore blood sugar balance and prevent acne. 1 small scoop thrown into my daily coffee adds a nice sweetness while offering tons of additional hormone and beauty benefits. I’ve found that inositol has personally been helpful with my blood sugar regulation and keeps my skin clear and acne-free.
The need for detoxification support is greatly increased by environmental pollution, herbicides and pesticides, as well as the antibiotic treatment of animals and the increase in the amount of plastics & harmful chemicals found in our environment. Fortunately some wonderful supplement brands are producing professional grade glutathione supplements to give the body a little extra boost in these toxic times. Glutathione is the body’s main antioxidant, and it’s important for phase 2 detoxification of harmful toxins. Supplementation with this nutrient is important because it can help offset the increased toxic load coming in from our environment. I personally have a few genetic polymorphisms that make it more difficult for me to eliminate environmental toxins so glutathione supplementation is a personal must-have. If you’re considering adding this powerful tripeptide to your daily supplement pack make sure that you first speak with your integrative health care provider to make sure that it’s right for you and that you’re taking the correct form. Oral glutathione has poor absorption rates and must be taken in liposomal form to ensure bioavailability. NAC supplementation is also an option since it’s a precursor to glutathione production in the body. Also helpful is regularly taking infrared saunas, consuming only organic meats, fasting periodically, and eating an excellent diet that includes generous portions of dark green leafy greens and colorful vegetables.
The subcutaneous layer of your skin is made up of fat and collagen cells so it’s important to eat collagen containing foods every day to maintain healthy skin. If you’re not getting enough dietary collagen from sources like bone broth the tissue in this layer can begin to deteriorate, leading to sagging skin and wrinkles. I throw a scoop of bovine collagen peptides into my coffee every morning and add marine collagen + vitamin C to a large glass of lemon water to drink throughout the day. Collagen is one of my beauty essentials because it helps to maintain skin elasticity and prevent wrinkles. Studies show that our bodies begin to produce less collagen after age 25, which is why it’s so important to get more collagen in your daily diet.
Mental stress increases the excretion and hence the need for many nutrients, including my favourite calming mineral magnesium. Magnesium is used in larger quantities during periods of stress since it’s a cofactor in the production of cortisol & other ‘fight or flight’ hormones. While our bodies are designed to cope well with short term stressors most of us live with recurring chronic stress day in and out. It’s no wonder that studies estimate over 70 – 80% of North Americans are magnesium-deficient. This constant stress has serious repercussions overtime on our health and vitality. Fortunately, some of this strain on our bodies may be offset by magnesium supplementation. There are several types of magnesium, but magnesium glycinate is my go-to since it won’t act as a natural laxative like some other (cheaper) forms do. I use magnesium glycinate supplements daily to help me cope with stress, to sleep better, and to relieve muscle tension.
Higher levels of vitamins & nutrients can delay mitochondrial aging, speed up the repair of large molecules such as DNA and collagen, and generally improve overall health. Antioxidant supplements are my favourite for anti-aging because they can slow the aging process by reducing the harmful effects of free radicals in your body. I personally rotate my antioxidant and anti-aging supplements monthly so my system doesn’t get used to any one antioxidant product. This month I’m taking daily bergamot oil supplements to upregulate the autophagy effects from my intermittent fasting.
The body naturally produces vitamin D in response to sun exposure. Unfortunately, as a pale Canadian who spends most of my time in my clinic seeing patients, I’m not getting the sun I need to have optimal levels. Despite being called a ‘vitamin’, vitamin D is actually a hormone and it plays an important role in energy production, immune support mood regulation. Statistics estimate that over a billion people across the world are either deficient in vitamin D or have insufficient levels. Almost 100% of patients that I test in office have a deficiency in this important vitamin, which is important when you consider the fact that vitamin D deficiency has been linked to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, chronic fatigue, and cancer. I personally take 4,000IU of a fat-soluble form daily to maintain my levels around 125nmol/L, which is the ‘ideal’ level based on studies looking at cancer surveillance and longevity. Notice how I emphasized that my personal vitamin D supplement is “fat soluble”? Vitamin D is made from fats and absorbed by fats, and should therefore be taken with fat to ensure optimal absorption. This means that those cheap tablets from Costco likely aren’t doing the trick here. It’s important to check with your doctor for blood work to determine your ideal vitamin D prescription. Vitamin D in any dose over 1,000IU is considered a drug, and should only be prescribed and administered by a GP, ND or NP in Ontario.
While these supplements work for me based on my individual needs, they may not be right for you. I highly I recommend working with your provider to identify, based on testing and your health story, what daily supplements are best for you. If you live in the GTA and would like to work with me to develop your own personalize supplement protocol you can book online here.
- Dean C. The Magnesium Miracle. Second Edition. New York: Ballantine Books, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0399594441
- Halliwell B, Gutteridge HMC. Free radicals in biology and medicine. 5th edition. Oxford, NY: Clarendon Press, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-0198717485
- Waldbott GL. Health effects of environmental pollutants. Second edition. St. Louis, MI: The C. V. Mosby Company, 1978. ISBN-13: 978-0801653308
This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Naturopathic doctor or primary care physician. Do not use the information in this document for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. Always speak with your Naturopathic doctor before taking any medication or nutritional or herbal or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read online.