Supplements for (almost) everyone

When I decided to treat my chronic illness using alternative methods, I ditched the prescriptions and replaced them with healthy eating and quite a few supplements. Many of the supplements I took were specific to my condition, and as my health has improved I’ve been able to stop taking them.

Along the way I learned about a few supplements that are good for nearly everyone, even if you’re healthy. As aways, it’s best to consult a professional before starting a new supplement or medicine, especially if you have unique health circumstances or allergies. That being said, here’s what’s worked for me:

20130613-114316.jpgI take these four supplements every morning:

Fish Oil – It seems like proponents of fish oil claim that it can help with nearly every illness known to man. The reason for this is that it helps reduce inflammation in the body and many conditions, particularly chronic ones like rheumatoid arthritis and interstitial cystitis, have an inflammatory factor. When choosing a fish oil, make sure to choose one that contains both EPA and DHA. I like this one from Vital Nutrients because it is citrus-free, so I don’t have to worry about my citrus sensitivity.

Psyllium – I cannot sing enough praises for this wonder supplement. Psyllium is a form of dietary fiber from the seeds of the herb Plantago ovata. If you ever have trouble, well, going every day this supplement is for you. Each morning I mix a tablespoon of the powder into a glass of water and follow it up with another plain glass of water. Metamucil is essentially the same product, but I like this version from Organic India because it is organic and free of added flavors. The texture seemed a little gross at first, but I was used to it after a couple days and now I swear by the stuff.

Calcium – This is SO important, particularly for women. It is really difficult to get your recommended daily intake of calcium from food. I love dairy – I have a yogurt smoothie for breakfast every day and a glass of milk almost every evening as my dessert – and I still wasn’t meeting my daily requirement. To make up for it, I take a calcium supplement every day. You should choose a brand that includes Vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption. I like this version from Caltrate. Vitamin supplementation is only useful if you aren’t getting enough from your diet, so I only take one pill a day to make up for the deficiency. It is recommended that women between 19 and 50 years of age get at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Preventing osteoporosis begins decades before the disease actually strikes!

Probiotic – In the perfect world, no one would have to take antibiotics, but we all know that just isn’t realistic. If you come down with strep throat or any other bacterial illness or have a surgical procedure you’re going to end up taking them. The unfortunate truth is that these drugs don’t just kill the bad bacteria and leave the good stuff to do it’s job. There is a ton of helpful bacteria in our body and antibiotics kill those guys too. A probiotic supplement can help to resupply our bodies with the bacteria they need to keep things running smoothly. When choosing a probiotic, stick with the one from the refrigerator section with multiple strands of good bacteria, and keep it in the refrigerator at home. Although it is pricy, I like this one from BioCeuticals because it contains nine different strands of bacteria and 45 Billion CFU (colony forming units) per capsule.

All of these supplements are available over the counter, but as I mentioned before, check with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about starting a new supplement. Just because something doesn’t require a prescription doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful or potentially dangerous – a lesson I learned a few months ago after taking an over the counter supplement for relaxation that had effects similar to a recreational drug!

What supplements work for you?