08/08/2019 by Dr. Lewis
What to Consider When Buying Supplements AND My Top 5 Supplements for Overall Health
It seems like every other week there's a new supplement fad that is being touted as miraculous for achieving optimal health and wellness, but I find there are only a few supplements that have stood the test of time for widespread benefit.
With so many supplements out there and an incredible amount of health and wellness information swirling around, I often have very confused patients who sit in my office exasperated and unsure what is best for their bodies. This article is my opportunity to guide you in a general way toward key supplements that are likely to have the most benefit, but please note that it is always important to speak to a naturopathic doctor to individualize these recommendations for you.
A few disclaimers when it comes to supplementation in general:
- "Natural" does not always mean "healthy". In other words, just because you've found it in a health food store or in the health aisle of Costco does not mean it's a healthy or necessary therapeutic for your body. It may cause worsening symptoms, cause new symptoms, or have no therapeutic benefit.
- Food sources are the ideal sources. I always advise patients to start with healthy nutrition, especially whole foods that are dense in nutrients and not dense in calories (think giant plate of veggies and lean protein, which is nutrient-dense, vs. giant order at McDonald's, which is calorie-dense).
- Professional brands (often) outweigh retail brands. If there's one thing you take away from this article, please stop buying supplements from Walmart, Shopper's or Costco, unless you've had me (or another naturopathic doctor) review the ingredients first. It breaks my heart to have to tell patients that they've wasted their money when I do a supplement review and reveal that they're taking 1% of the recommended dose because of a poor formulation and they'd have to take the entire bottle to get the correct dose. Professional brands are specifically formulated to ensure proper doses (based on evidence), correct ingredients (without a laundry list of non-medicinal ingredients), high-quality sources, and superior purity.
- Toxicity, overdosing, and bio-accumulation can happen. There are supplements that can cause adverse effects in the body. Always (always) speak to a regulated health professional to help construct your treatment plan, as you would with pharmaceutical medications.
In my practice, I often tell my patients that my goal for their health is to build a resilient body that is able to function optimally with minimal dependence to supplements. For longterm patients that have been guided through the early stages of healing and recovery from their health complaints, and are feeling generally quite well, I typically consider these key supplements for their benefits on maintaining good health and improving health outcomes.
- Fish Oil/Omega 3: For its widespread benefit on improving cardiovascular risk, brain health, skin/hair/nails, joint pain, hormones, the immune system, and the list goes on.
- Vitamin D: To treat deficiencies that are widespread and avoid the health impact from vitamin D deficiency. Read my blog post on Vitamin D here.
- Magnesium: Helps to support digestive function, anxiety, sleep, stress, muscle pains and post-workout recovery. There are several forms (oxide, citrate, bisglycinate, malate), so speak to me for individual guidance on this.
- Probiotics: This is one of the most complex therapies to self-prescribe, as there are several strains that may help or worsen your symptoms. Typically used for digestion, but also have systemic benefit for skin, immune function, and mood.
- Multivitamin/B Complex: I recommend these as an insurance policy to supplement a healthy nutrition and digestive system. If you are consuming a spectrum of nutrient-dense foods AND your digestive system is primed to absorb these nutrients well, you may not require a multivitamin. Always ensure your multivitamin is Vitamin A free (as this vitamin can build up in the body and cause negative impact).
If you are an existing patient and would like a supplement review, book in for an ONLINE or in-person appointment (15-30 minute visit). If you would like to become a patient, book in for an Initial Visit or Meet & Greet. Click "Book an Appointment" at the top of this page for all appointment types.