We get asked quite frequently, “Do supplements work?” The answer is yes! When quality supplements are used correctly and in combination with the Clean Diet, they have the power to totally transform our health. Supplements work to help us address deficiencies that can arise from our modern life.
Here are our top 5 recommended daily supplements:
1. Vitamin D3
Increases energy levels and immunity, boosts mood and balances hormones. When possible, get 20 minutes of direct sunlight on your bare skin daily. For maintenance take 2,000-4,000 IU a day of a quality Vitamin D3 supplement. For deficiencies, work with your functional medicine doctor. They will recommend dosages between 5,000-10,000 IU a day for a few weeks.
2. Fish oil
A concentrated source of omega-3, EPA-DHA fish oil provides essential fatty acids and reduces inflammation. Start with doses around 1000mg, once to twice daily, with a 300/200 ratio of EPA/DHA.
Beneficial bacteria help break down food, absorb nutrients, and boost immunity. Take at least 15 billion live organisms a day. Choose a probiotic that has the lactobacillus acidophilus strain along with other strains such as Bifidobacterium longum, lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum.
An important mineral directly involved in over 300 different bodily functions and often lacking in our diet. Supports healthy bowel movements, reduces stress and improves sleep. Look for magnesium citrate as it has been shown to absorb better.
5. Daily Shake
Replenishes essential vitamins and nutrients that may not be present in your diet. A high quality nutritional shake mix is more than just a protein powder. It acts like a multivitamin + protein shake making the daily shake an ideal way to keep your body nourished.
HOW TO TAKE SUPPLEMENTS
All the supplements listed above are best taken with food. However, probiotics can be taken on an empty stomach with water. Refrain from eating for 15 minutes after you have taken them.
There is no fixed rule on how long to take these supplements. Many people continue to take the five supplements listed above indefinitely. A good rule of thumb is to take them for three weeks, then take a few days off before starting them again, unless your healthcare practitioner tells you otherwise.
THE BIG PICTURE
Food is the primary way we get our nutrients. The food we eat is information our body uses to tell it how to function and how to express its genes. If we want to function at a high-level, then eating the highest quality and most nutrient-dense foods is the most important first step. We recommend a diet rich in whole plants and healthy animal protein while staying away from processed foods and sugar.
That being said, even if we are eating clean, a diet of whole foods is most likely not sufficient. Whole foods are the key to long-term health, but supplements may just be what we need to take care of any nutrient deficiencies we have.
WHY WE ARE DEFICIENT
Our modern lifestyles are less natural: We are more sedentary, spend less time in the sun, and eat more processed food today than ever before. All three of these issues can contribute to nutrient deficiencies.
Industrial agricultural food production reduces nutrient density of our food: Whether it’s picking food before it’s ripe, repeatedly farming single crops on the same plot of land, adding preservatives and conservatives, or shipping food items across the country, all of these activities decrease the quality of our food.
We are not absorbing the nutrients from our food: It’s not just the kinds of foods we eat that are important, it’s how well we absorb them. When our gut is impaired, we don’t absorb the nutrients we need. Supplementation can give us the necessary nutrients and help us repair our gut.
Each person has their own biological strengths and weaknesses: Breastfeeding, c-section births, family history, genetics, and presence of chronic infections are just some of the factors that play a role in how nourished we are. The famous Pottenger cats study shows us that nutritional deficiencies can be passed down through successive generations and may be an important contributing factor in disease.
Some of us might be dealing with the deficiencies of our parents or grandparents. We feel confident that with the right lifestyle balance, good quality supplements, rest, and exercise, we will be on our way to feeling like our best self.