This is by far the number one question my students and patients ask me when it comes to supplementation. With all the options in health and drug stores, it can feel overwhelming at the best of times when making your decisions. “Shouldn’t I be able to get all my nutrients from the food I eat, anyways?” or “Do these vitamins really work?” are a few questions and points of confusions people can have when it comes to vitamins and supplementation. In this post, I’ll go over the reasons why we need to take supplements on a daily basis and what you should look for in a supplement brand.
Historically, people have maintained good health without the help of vitamins or supplements. A balanced diet from food grown in nutrient dense soil was all a person ever needed to stay healthy. Yet with the widespread use of genetically modified foods, growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and insecticides, our food is fundamentally different than it once was. Simply put, our food does not contain the same nutritional content it did 50 years ago.
On top of that, the ability to digest and assimilate the nutrients from our food is often compromised. With the stress we experience in our modern-day lives, people are not able to get the nutrients they need to keep the body moving. As such, I have seen the number of chronic diseases increase over the years in the patients I see in my practice.
After a patient has had their health concerns addressed, I always recommend supplements to take on a regular basis to keep the body in a healthy mode. But not all supplements are created equal!
Patients need to use high-quality medical grade supplements for the best results. These supplements are ultimately the most cost-effective option. This is due to their high absorption rate and the activated compounds they contain. When taking supplements that are not high-quality or medical grade, the body will only absorb a fraction of those nutrients and the rest will be eliminated.
As a Naturopathic Physician such as myself, I can guide you towards the ideal protocol of supplements take, even if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking prescriptions medications. Though every individual is different, I believe there are certain supplements everyone can benefit from.
Curcumin is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in the spice turmeric. It exerts potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects, and both these effects may be protective against some form of cancer progression. It also functions as a liver detoxifier. It works well for patients with depression and pain. Curcumin is also known to alleviate cognitive decline associated with ageing, improve cardiovascular activity, and reduce lipid and plaque levels in arteries. It can reduce the risk and side effects associated with diabetes as well. Overall, curcumin has excellent anti-ageing qualities and a broad spectrum of benefits people can benefit from.
High-quality omegas and fish oils, which are essential fats, are important for many organ systems in the body. It works by reducing systemic inflammation, improving brain and heart well-being, refining the skin, and enhancing our moods. Medical Grade fish oils are important as they do not contain environmental contaminants (such as heavy metals) compared to their lower quality counterparts.
The digestive tract is the front-line defense of your immune system and home to countless bacteria, both beneficial and non-beneficial. These bacteria outnumber the cells in your body by a ratio of 10 to 1. Maintaining the ideal ration of beneficial bacteria forms the foundation of good health, whether it be physical, mental or emotional. By optimizing the gut flora with probiotics, you begin to heal and repair the lining of the digestive tract. From there, disease symptoms start to resolve.
Most people living north of the 35th parallel are usually Vitamin D3 deficient. Vitamin D is important for stimulating the immune system, growing strong bones, improving our mood, and preventing specific cancers and auto-immune conditions. Vitamin D deficiencies can be determined through blood tests requested from a Naturopathic Physician. From there, someone like myself would able to guide you towards the optimal amount of Vitamin D3 you should be taking.
An abundant mineral in the body, magnesium it is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body. These include protein synthesis, muscle contraction, nerve impulse conduction, blood glucose control, normalizing heart rhythms, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is required for energy production and contributes to the structural development of bones. It is also required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and other antioxidants. I find many patients are fond of taking Calcium supplements (which is great) but forget about the importance of Magnesium in their body as well. However, there different types of magnesium supplements and different versions of magnesium, each having a different function within the body. As a Naturopathic Physician, I can help you determine the one most appropriate for you.
So there you have it! The top 5 supplements I recommend to my patients. However, always keep in mind that the dosage amounts and supplement types will depend on your age, health goals, and unique requirements.
To round off my top 5 supplements, a multivitamin is a must. As mentioned above, with our modern-day stresses, rarely do we get enough fruits and vegetables every day. Add to that, with the low nutritional value and quality of certain foods, we are often deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. Multivitamins, thus, are a brilliant way to ensure we are getting a broad-spectrum approach, as vitamins and minerals act as co-enzymes and cofactors in all the “machinery” of the human body.
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Sanjay Mohan Ram, B.Sc.(Hon.), N.D