Are supplements just a waste of money and space?

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Disclaimer: This information is for education purposes only, it does not constitute legal, financial or medical advice. Please speak to a medical and natural health practitioner in relation to any of the information below.


Note: supermarket quality supplements are literally the dog poop of the supplement industry. If you want the best, speak to a naturopath who can help you further.

So, why do you we actually use supplements?


We can break it down into main categories of immunity, digestion, sleep, performance/recovery, inflammation, stress and detoxification. What's actually going to work for you though really does depend on WHO you are, your personality traits, behaviours and DNA.


There's hundreds of supplements and they're costly! There's so many supplements that's it overwhelming. I'm sure you've got a stack of supplements somewhere in your kitchen only to have them expire year after year? Or maybe you're taking all of them and feeling worse? This guide is going to save you time, money and space.


I used to think that supplements were unnecessary, a 'waste of money' I would've said. These days I believe the complete opposite. The right ones can do a world of good. There's no perfect supplement that 'everyone should take' but there's recommendations that wouldn't hurt investigating further with someone who can analyse blood work and stool tests.


Also due to soil degradation (loss of soil quality) the vitamin and mineral quality of our fresh food produce is lacking. Someone once said "soil is like the skin of Earth", it's been damaged and polluted and it's not as easy as just adding more soil on top.


Ultimately supplements are used to supplement for where there is deficiency. Without getting bloodwork and maybe a stool test it can be a little bit like Tug-O-War if you have compromised immunity, digestion, performance, etc etc.


Supplement cycling

There are supplements that I cycle depending on the time year and also where I am in my menstrual cycle. Each supplement I list in this article will have notes that you can take away and speak to your health practitioner about if you would like to discuss including them.


Take L-Glutamine for example, I use this as a digestive distress preventative. Personally I have to be careful with how much onion, garlic and certain fruit I eat due to some pretty painful gastro-intestinal bloating. Glutamine can transform into any amino acid that the body requires at any given time AND it repairs the lining of the intestinal walls which can provide relief from IBS related symptoms. I take about 5 to 10g of it when my body communicates to me it's needed. Sometimes it times of high stress I will also take it as stress depletes many vitamins and minerals and amino acids. Glutamine also eventuates into GABA which is produced in the brain and is a calming neurotransmitter.


I cycle Fish Oil when I know I won't be eating a lot of oily fish during the week and for skin/scalp care. Omega-3's are very important for skin, hair, nails but also your hormones and other chemical processes in the body.


Listen to my podcast here (episode 16) to hear why fish oil has helped my scalp!


The other supplement I cycle SEASONALLY is Vitamin D. During the Summer months if you're spending anywhere between 10 - 30 minutes in direct sunlight you'll probably be okay without it. However, in the Winter months, it's a good idea to re-introduce it. Those who are fair skinned and cannot be left in the sun without getting an instant burn should consider taking Vitamin D3 - again, speak to your health practitioner about this.


My last example is Zinc. I have suffered severe and debilitating period pain as a teenage and occasionally at the beginning of my 20s. Over the years and with better nutritional planning, removing gluten and improving sleep - it has improved so much. More recently I have started taking Zinc in my luteal phase as it can provide relief from period pain, the pain is no longer debilitating but sometimes it still is uncomfortable and I can feel the difference with Zinc. I also have raspberry leaf tea a week before predicted menses as uterus support - which I learnt from a natural health practitioner.


LASTLY, check in with your body

Before we get to the supplements, remember to check in with your body before swallowing a whole bunch of things. The internal environment will ALWAYS physically respond in various ways which will allow you to justify whether or not the inclusion of a supplement is of benefit.


Again, ideally getting a full panel of bloods and stool test completed to use and speak with a natural health practitioner about can give you a good insight of what's happening at a deeper level.


Some things to take note of:

Skin appearance: red-blotchy skin, itchiness, dry skin, skin breakouts, acne

Mouth: hot, dry, constant thirst sensation

Stomach: are you; bloated, cramping, gassy, irritable

Excretion of waste: what is your pee colour? what do bowel movements look/feel like for you? Diarrhoea, constipated?

Temperature: hot, flushed, clammy, lightheaded, fingers and toes cold all the time

Sleep: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, menopausal like sleep symptoms (i.e. hot flushes, constant waking) Mood: bipolar-like moods i.e. "everyday, every-hour is a different mood"


I'm no medical doctor and don't have a degree in a naturopathy (although I think about it all the time) but I know you can see that I'm making the connection between physical symptoms and your internal problems.


SUPPLEMENTS:

Magnesium

Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic process in the human body for biochemical and metabolic pathways "Emerging evidence confirms that nearly two-thirds of the population in the western world is not achieving the recommended daily allowance for magnesium."*


You can find magnesium in foods like dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, avocados and whole grains YET as mentioned in the beginning - the soil quality is very poor and with almost 2/3 of the population being deficient, it wouldn't hurt to supplement with this.


Did you know? Chronic stress depletes magnesium.


Benefits: Important for bone density, ATP production (energy), key nutrient in calming nervous system and regulating HPA axis, improves function of insulin and thyroid hormone, helps to metabolise oestrogen and reduce PMS symptoms.


A magnesium chelate (magnesium glycinate) is a great form to purchase as opposed to a cheap magnesium chloride form off the supermarket shelf.


*Schwalfenberg, G. K., & Genuis, S. J. (2017). The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Scientifica, 2017, 4179326. doi:10.1155/2017/4179326



Fish Oil

Supports inflammation, joints, cardiovascular system, skin, hair and nails, brain health and insulin response. Helps manufacture and regulate hormones like oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, leptin and ghrelin.


Fish oil helps to maintain cell membranes which are made of fats. Provides the essential fatty acids; Omega-3 and 6s*which our bodies cannot make


Note: Fish Oil should NOT have a fishy taste if you were to crack open the capsule. This means it's rancid and potentially toxic.


*OMEGA 3s = good fats; salmon, avocado, seeds, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, ghee

OMEGA 6s = Processed foods 'junk food'


Benefits: Inflammation, Detoxification and Immunity



Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Important in overall health such as immune defence, neurological health, blood sugar regulation and prevention of chronic diseases like cardiovascular health and highly underrated as a sleep tool.


Body synthesises it from sunlight and it regulates calcium (bone health). This can be depleted very easily - long winter months without sunlight exposure downregulates immune defence. Which may explain why some of you get sick often during winter.


In Australia, 1 in 4 adults (23%) are deficient in Vitamin D and that stat climbs in Winter seasons for Victorians to 49% (ABS)


If you take the capsule form (D3) do not take it in the night. Vitamin D is stimulating as it works to mimic morning to night cycles with the sun. If you take vitamin D you are telling you're body the sun is out and therefore the body reads this, stops producing melatonin (which ramps up in the evening and night for sleep) and therefore you won't feel tired!!


Benefits: Immunity, Sleep and Performance/Recovery



Multivitamin (without FOLIC ACID or IRON)

In general most of us won't be getting enough vitamins and minerals from the foods we eat for optimal genetic function. This is dependent on a persons dietary behaviours also.


For example someone who eats organic produce, lean cuts of meat and no artificial foods could probably get away without. A person who eats take-away every day, smokes and doesn't workout regularly could certainly benefit from it.


Note: Never consume it before bed - B vitamins can be stimulating!


Folic acid is also synthetic form of folate and will block detoxification pathways! Which is terrible - to find out more about detoxification read here



Electrolytes (without colours, flavourings)

Our body is an ELECTRICAL SYSTEM. Electrolytes are excreted via sweat, urine, poop and various other bodily functions. When you are low in electrolytes your electrical energy is low.


Critical for regulation of muscle contraction, fluid balance and nerve impulses. Some signs of electrolyte deficiency are irregular heartbeat, mental and physical fatigue, brain fog, frequent urination and urinating within minutes of drinking water, feeling dizzy upon standing and not sweating well.


Benefits: Performance, Stress, Detoxification and digestion


RATIO of potassium : sodium should be 2 : 1 (this is the bodies internal balance)


Note: Electricity carriers; Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Chloride, Calcium. Each iron works in synergy - helping us to USE energy (Krebs Cycle).



VEGANS (WHAT YOU MUST SUPPLEMENT WITH)


Protein

It is well known that vegans don't consume enough protein. PROTEIN IS the building blocks of DNA. You cannot, not eat protein and expect your body to act in a healthy way. There are plant based plant sources. Not only would a protein powder, BCAAs and EAAs (or even a leucine specific powder) be useful to include in your daily nutritional habits but you can see here some high protein food sources.


Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5598028/#:~:text=Foods%20such%20as%20beans%20and,foods%20%5B14%2C%2046%5D.