Yes, I’m a big believer in food as medicine and I avoid pills or prescriptions. And yes, ideally the foods you put in your body will fill you with all the vitamins and minerals you need. But I also believe it’s important to be real about the gaps in your diet.
I can’t tell you how many hours of my nutrition degree I spent I studying the chemistry of vitamins in our bodies. They are vital for proper functioning of thousands of cell processes, and a deficiency can have minor to severe effects. Most often, unless you have a serious medical condition, a real diet of whole foods can help meet your needs, but I’ve really found natural and real supplements to be a great way to enhance my health.
My supplement routine has shifted through different seasons of life and different medical needs, but this is what I’m taking right now:
Of course, a multi-vitamin is a great place to start. I truthfully don’t always take one. Lately, though, I’ve been feeling the need to make sure I’m getting my iron and calcium, so I’ve gone back to adding this in every other day.
Turmeric is a spice derived from the the ginger family and it’s long been used in Eastern cuisine; it’s what gives Indian curry its bright yellow color. Curcumin, the most active constituent of turmeric, is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. I started taking this almost 2 years ago and I’ll definitely never stop. For someone with an auto-immune condition, avoiding inflammation is an important pursuit, and I have absolutely noticed a difference in my gut health and my overall inflammation response (for me, mostly headaches and allergies). I’ve recently read that whole turmeric might have more of the anti-inflammatory properties than the isolated curcumin, so I’ll probably pick that up next time, but I’ll be finishing this off first.
Omega-3‘s are so so important. I actually studied my entire senior honors thesis (all 35 pages of glory) on omega-3 fatty acids and specifically their effects on depression symptoms. But they improve so much- cardiovascular health, brain function, tissue development. I already consume a lot in my diet (chia seeds, salmon, egg yolks, spinach) but I still find an extra bit helps provide a punch.
Vitamin D-3 has been an great one for me, too. When I graduated school and started a full-time job (with most daylight hours spent inside an office), I noticed my California skin was lacking some sun, an important part in the vitamin D conversion cycle. It’s most often recognized to fight depression, and when I was facing some minor depression symptoms, I started supplementing with Vitamin D and definitely noticed a difference. It’s also important in calcium and phosphorous regulation as well as immune system function. I take 2 softgels (or 4,000 IU) daily.
Vitamin C is an obvious one. For immune system strength and calcium absorption (something I struggle with since I don’t eat dairy). I usually get enough vitamin C in my diet, but I’ve been adding it into my supplements the last few weeks just because of all the wintery icky bugs going around.
But, if you’re only going to take one supplement, it should be this. A probiotic absolutely is the most important one I take. Did you know more than 80% of your immune system is in your gut? 80% people! Gut health is ALL health. If your gut isn’t healthy, everything else will suffer. I’ve tried a variety of different probiotics, and truthfully I think there are better ones out there than this. BUT sometimes ease and cost come into play for me and this is the perfect example. Costco sells this probiotic in a 12 week supply at a great price. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated (like many high quality probiotics do) so I find I can be much more consistent (which is KEY with a probiotic). Yes, I do still drink my daily ‘booch but I really can’t overstate gut health, so I attack it with all forces.
Does this seem overwhelming? Are you thinking “how do I possibly manage to take all these suckers without forgetting or losing my mind, Mollie?” This nifty “old-lady pill box” as my coworker referred to it really helps. It fits 14 days, so every other Sunday, I spend a few minutes filling the boxes. And every day I get a reminder on my phone to take my supplements. And it doesn’t go away until I do. This helps make it easy and painless.
Disclaimer: do your research. Make sure you’re buying quality products from reliable manufacturers. Don’t just walk into Target and pick up the first vitamin D tablet you see on the shelf. The ones I purchase are linked here:
But don’t feel that you have to add all of these in, though. Your needs might be very different from mine. Think about your diet, think about your symptoms, and decide what supplements might help you best. Like I said, I change my supplements all the time- I’ll probably lay off the vitamin C and multi soon. But a probiotic, a turmeric supplement, and an omega-3 will stay with me til I die. Just stay attune to your body, observe what helps promote health in you, and do that. That’s what I will always preach and stand by. There is no right answer for everyone. Take ownership of your body and explore what it needs.