Looking for the best supplements to keep you going during the day? Here are our 5 Essential Supplements You Can’t Live Without
Approximately 50 million Americans or one in five people suffer from some 80 autoimmune diseases, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) — and that figure is on the rise. I myself suffer from Lupus, which is when inflammation occurs all over the body, among other nasty effects. Autoimmune condition is the process where the immune system mistakenly recognizes the body’s own proteins as foreign invaders and produces antibodies that attack healthy cells and tissues, causing various diseases such as multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, scleroderma, and chronic active hepatitis.
Rather than let Western Medicine tell me I had to go on antidepressants or steroids my entire life, I took matters into my own hands and started doing some heavy research. Part of my regime includes five essential supplements.
When I first started my health journey many moons ago, I thought that GNC was a good place to buy health pills. That was in the ’90s before I got hit by an SUV. I was 26 and pumped weights at the gym, popped diet pills and ate old school protein bars, and thought a bagel with cream cheese constituted a healthy breakfast.
These days, I no longer eat gluten or dairy and start my morning with a superfood smoothie. I am also a devotee of yoga and love to spin and hike. I’ve since learned that many companies in the billion dollar supplement world only care about the bottom line, using substandard ingredients and binding their pills with dangerous fillers.
How can they possibly make us healthier if they are polluting our inner eco-system? Our processed foods are loaded with additives and fillers in the name of ka-ching, so why wouldn’t the same go for vitamins?
Our HoneyColony Collective asked: “Which five supplements are the best and why?” We surveyed several doctors and naturopaths and came up this core package. While this pack applies to the average person looking to improve health and prevent disease, it is optimal for those with auto-immune disorders, diabetes, and heart conditions.
Top 5 Essential Supplements
Fish oil is today’s bestselling supplement — and with good reason. The EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in omega-3 fish oil have profoundly positive effects on human health.
Fish oil is incredibly effective at reducing inflammation, which is a great thing since it’s the epicenter of so many diseases in our modern world. It reduces swelling by triggering the release of prostaglandins (natural substances that regulate immunity, inflammation, blood clotting, brain function, plus a host of other essential functions).
And if you are dealing with any autoimmune condition, such as fibromyalgia or lupus, this supplement is a recommended must. DHA also slows your liver’s production of undesirable triglycerides, making it extremely protective against heart disease and diabetes.
In addition, omega-3 fish oil may also inhibit the growth of breast cancer by 30 percent, according to a new study published by Canada’s University of Guelph in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
Other studies spanning decades have confirmed that omega-3 fish oil can be therapeutically beneficial in numerous women’s health issues, including menopause-related weight gain, and other symptoms.
Not all fish oils are created equal. “It is critical to realize that there are many different forms of fish oil and omega-3-based supplements on the market,” reads a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Ever wonder where the fish oil comes from? Most cheap, commodity fish oils come from farmed salmon, menhaden, and other diverse fish caught anywhere and everywhere. The oil gets distilled to remove the markedly higher levels of contaminants.
A handful of different fish pills tested also contained trace levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This chemical is widely used in dielectric and coolant fluids and has been shown to cause cancer in animals. There is also evidence that PCBs can cause cancer in humans.
As an aside, approximately 99 percent of the PCBs used by U.S. industry was produced by the beloved Monsanto Chemical Company, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
With all the contaminants floating in our seas, companies use various cleaning methods, such as molecular distillation. The chief purpose of molecular distillation is to remove industrial contaminants (e.g., heavy metals, dioxins, and PCBs) from commodity fish, which in theory is a good thing.
But in most cases, molecular distillation involves flash-heating the oil to high temperatures (about 460° Fahrenheit; 260° centigrade) in the presence of a vacuum, which means the pills you are swallowing are not as effective.
Conventional wisdom holds that molecular distillation of fish oils is the benchmark for safety, with seemingly no consideration given to its impact on the oil’s nutritional value or efficacy. It does indeed reduce contaminants, yet some researchers believe it also denatures the oil and lowers its beneficial value.
Vital Choice Alaskan sockeye salmon oil, a product we carry at HoneyColony, is 100 percent natural. The oil is produced in a dedicated processing facility on the shores of Bristol Bay, Alaska, using freshly caught, sustainably harvested sockeye salmon. Vital Choice is the only fish oil supplement in the world to carry the esteemed Marine Stewardship Council endorsement.
In addition to being abundant, the Alaskan sockeye is also one of the purest of all ocean species and contains the highest amount of astaxanthin, a powerful biological antioxidant. Astaxanthin is also a natural carotenoid and gives the oil its rich orange color. It is up to 100 times more potent than Vitamin E at quenching singlet oxygen “free radicals.”
And according to trials, the full range of fats in wild salmon (and in Vital Choice’s unique un-distilled wild sockeye salmon oil) enhances absorption of omega-3s.
Immediately after extraction, Vital Choice deep chills their oil and stores it in airtight containers until filtered and encapsulated in a pharmaceutical grade processing facility. This basic yet thorough filtration process results in a pure, unadulterated salmon oil rich in health-promoting omega-3s, as well as a naturally balanced formula of 32 other distinct fatty acid molecules.
Since the huge demand for fish oil is wreaking havoc on marine life, choose a company that cares about sustainability.
An estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, which is a crucial mineral instrumental in the relaxation of muscles, such as your heart, the formation of bones and teeth, proper bowel functioning and regulating blood sugar levels.
“Without magnesium, there is no life,” says Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, board certified internist, HoneyColony advisory expert and national expert in the fields of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, sleep, and pain.
Magnesium is also a key player in 300 essential bodily functions and is used by all of your organs. It activates enzymes, turns the food we eat into energy, and helps our bodies absorb vitamin D, potassium, and zinc.
Since sufficient magnesium is also necessary to regulate our stress response, it would make sense that a chronic, low-level insufficiency of magnesium could lead to all sorts of chronic problems, even contributing to autoimmune conditions such as fibromyalgia and lupus.
If you have blood sugar issues, you should know that magnesium helps regulate blood sugar and insulin activity. In addition, magnesium’s ability to relax muscles and nerves makes it one of your best allies in the battle against anxiety, hypertension, restless leg syndrome, sleep disorders, and abnormal heart rhythm.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get enough magnesium in our diet these days to even meet the minimum RDA requirements; our soil is farmed out, our water is stripped of minerals, and the processing of foods make them devoid of nutrients.
Additionally, new research shows that Americans need far more magnesium than the current recommended daily intake — and that you should really be consuming twice as much magnesium as calcium for optimal health.
Here’s a 32-page guide to the benefits of magnesium and how to avoid osteoporosis, strengthen bones naturally, and support a healthy heart.
Consuming magnesium supplements can be challenging, as they tend to be large, difficult to digest, or filled with crap. Speaking of crap, magnesium does have a laxative effect, if you take a large amount at once, which is why we like Jigsaw’s slow-release magnesium. Instead of the magnesium being dumped into your system all at once, it is absorbed over an eight-hour period so that you get a controlled amount to start feeling better.
“What makes it especially powerful is its time release mechanism. People who desperately need magnesium can absorb it without experiencing the laxative properties of magnesium, but can’t take it because of the laxative to get the magnesium — without the runs,” says Dr Teitelbaum. “The malic acid is also a key energy nutrient which adds to the magnesium’s effectiveness.”
Meanwhile, since the skin is the most efficient organ for detoxification and also holds tremendous potential for re-mineralizing the body, we also recommend HUmineral HUmic Hydration Mineral topically-applied Hydration Skin Spritz. It’s quickly absorbed through the skin, which also means it won’t affect your bowels. Ancient Mineral products utilize an ultra-pure, highly concentrated form of naturally occurring fulvic and humic acid and rich with magnesium 78 other trace minerals.
3. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D affects just about every cell and tissue in your body. It enters into the nucleus of the cell and positively influences the expression of genes relating to optimal physiology, cell growth and repair, and immunity. D is rapidly becoming the miracle vitamin of our time. Every week, it seems, there’s a new finding about its marvelous benefits. For example, some reports suggest that vitamin D deficiency may increase risk for lupus developing.
“To me, vitamin D is as important to the body as water and air and food,” exclaims Carole Baggerly, Director of Grass Roots Health, a Vitamin D Education and Research Organization. “It enables every cell in our body to do its work. Without it, the DNA of the cells can’t necessarily do their job.”
Numerous studies show that this amazing vitamin is protective against all cancers, strengthens bones, prevents and even heals diabetes, protects against heart disease, lowers blood pressure, reverses depression, and elevates mood.
Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight exposure on the skin. Every cell in the body has the ability to activate vitamin D into its hormonal form; this active form of vitamin D plays many important roles well beyond calcium metabolism, including gene regulation, immune function, and neuromuscular health. Additionally, new research by Grass Roots Health shows the specific role of vitamin D in insulin resistance and hypertension. Unfortunately, the increased use of sunscreens, decreased outdoor exposure, and over-protection from the sun’s UV rays over the last several decades has contributed to the current vitamin D deficiency epidemic.
Whenever you can, spend 10-20 minutes sunbathing — without sunscreen, suggests Michael A. Smith, M.D., senior health scientist for Life Extension Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He explains that our body transforms sunshine into all the vitamin D it needs. If your access to sunlight is limited by season or geographic location, take 2,000-5,000 iu of a good quality vitamin D supplement daily (The elderly and African-Americans need higher doses).
Official recommendations call for a scant 600 IU, which is far too low. Just make sure you purchase vitamin D3 (not D2) because the D3 form is 87 percent more potent than vitamin D2, adds Smith.
Another little secret is to eat dark leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, and swiss chard. “These vegetables grow towards the sun and are rich in chlorophyll, providing our blood with oxygen,” adds Alexandra Catalano, certified health counselor and founder of Eat Cute. Several great charts, graphs, FAQs for download, print, and sharing can be found at Grass Roots Health along with some of the latest research.
It all starts in the gut. Did you know that we produce most of the feel-good hormone serotonin in our stomachs? Good gut bacteria will literally help you smile and stay healthy.
The human intestinal tract contains roughly 2,000 times the number of bacteria as there are cells in the human body, and they serve as the main gateway between our body and the outside world, explains HoneyColony Advisor Alan Christianson, NMD and one four physicians at Integrative Health.
“They regulate our immune system, break down our wastes, form essential nutrients, and control the balance of our hormones.”
Way back when, we obtained bacteria likely from foods buried in the ground for preservation. The ancient diet, devoid of sterility and refrigeration, gave us good bacteria on a regular basis, says Christianson.
Today, however, we live in a world with processed foods and preservatives that eat away at our gut. And then there is the overuse of antibiotics. No round discriminates between good or bad bacteria. They all die. As a result we grow resistant while compromising our immunity and gut.
There are many other factors that negatively impact the optimal flora in our ecosystem, such as diet (fatty foods, sugar, high inflammatory foods,; stress, medications (antibiotics, contraceptives), and environmental toxins.
Fortunately adding probiotics to your regimen can positively affect the gut, skin, vagina, bladder, immune system, gums, and more. It can also prevent diseases such as bacterial vaginitis, yeast vaginitis, gum disease, recurring bladder infections, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel syndrome, obesity, and more.
Diets rich in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchee can help keep a healthy flora. In addition, a probiotic supplement has been documented to help immune function and improve digestion, says Christianson, but the strains of probiotics vary.
“Taking a probiotics can also improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines,” adds Stefano Guandalini, MD, professor of pediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Sales of probiotic supplements totaled nearly $770 million in 2011, up some 22 percent from the previous year, according to Euromonitor International, a market research firm.
One important thing to consider when choosing a probiotic is whether the bacteria strains will survive long enough to make it to the intestines. Most probiotics get destroyed due to the severity of stomach acid — this renders them useless and ineffective. HoneyColony recommends Just Thrive Probiotic.
Just Thrive Probiotic is the first all-spore probiotic that survives stomach acid to make it into the intestines for optimal work. Most lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains are destroyed by gastric acid, becoming useless once they reach the intestines. The strains in Just Thrive have a 21 day life cycle where they bind, colonize, and adapt to identify and kill off pathogenic organisms. They also are able to identify healthy gut bacteria and create compounds and nutrients to support and enrich existing good bacteria.
Most bacteria are susceptible to any acidic pH range, mainly thriving in the more alkaline lower GI, but spores are able to withstand a broader range of variables in regards to pH and temperature ranges. This improves the chances that the probiotic strain will properly germinate and begin the process of restoring intestinal balance.
Many probiotics also use enteric coatings, which contain Phthalates — plastic chemical polymers. These same chemicals are banned in children’s toys, so why would we swallow them!?
“I am only as healthy as my gut. If I can’t digest food or supplements, absorb nutrients and eliminate waste, I won’t be very healthy,” states Michael A. Smith, MD, LifeExtension Senior Health Scientist. “Replenishing healthy gut bacteria is linked to improved digestion, regularity, stronger immunity and decreased bowel inflammation, and autoimmune disorders.”
5. Free Radicals And Antioxidants
We live in a world of free radicals.
What are those, you may ask?
Well, it’s not a hippy liberal movement — essentially it’s an atom (or a group of atoms) with an unpaired electron in its outer (valence) shell. These compounds are highly reactive in our bodies and quickly attack the nearest stable molecule by either donating or stealing an electron in order to balance themselves out. In the process of gaining or losing an electron, the formerly stable molecule is damaged and ceases to function properly. Even worse, this formerly stable molecule now contains an unpaired electron itself and thus becomes a free radical, reacting quickly with another nearby stable molecule.
This process repeats itself over and over, creating a cascade of free radical destruction in our cells and DNA, and ultimately contributing to every aging process, dysfunction, and illness known — arthritis, atherosclerosis, autoimmune diseases, cataracts, hypertension, Crohn’s disease, fatigue, diabetes, allergies, insomnia, headaches, poor circulation, and poor immunity.
Antioxidants deliver an array of vitamins and phytonutrients to support healthy cells.
“Antioxidants help our bodies by fighting free radicals and helping to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, all of which can be hard on our internal systems and tissue,” says Fred Pescatore, MD, a traditionally trained physician who practices nutritional medicine. He is also the author of the New York Times best-selling book, The Hamptons Diet, and the #1 best-selling children’s health book, Feed Your Kids Well.
Obviously, the solution is to limit one’s exposure to free radicals. Unfortunately, this is difficult since we are regularly exposed to the sun, radiation, heavy metals, pesticides, cigarette smoke, drugs, and air pollution. Processed foods, including heated oils, hydrogenated oils, iron from animal sources, also cause free radicals.
Finally, our bodies generate free radicals during activities that are a normal part of living such as digestion, breathing, and exercise. This last source of free radicals is of serious concern for endurance athletes, as the large amounts of oxygen that they consume during training and competitions often result in significant oxygen radicals in their bodies.
Food is the best medicine for ingesting antioxidants and combating free radicals, says Carina Sohaili, founder of Vibrant Healthy Life and a board-certified Celebrity Nutrition and Health Counselor. Antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin A, lutein, selenium, and lycopene, says Sohaili.
“You can literally eat your way to radiance! Antioxidant-rich food can help protect you against heart disease, cancers, and other disorders, not to mention a bunch of other aging effects from the environment. Berries and (raw organic) dark chocolate are two of my favorite antioxidant go-to snacks.”
Since most of us don’t get enough antioxidants from our diets, a quality antioxidant product like HealthForce’s Antioxidant Extreme can boost your body’s ability to win the war against free radicals.
This product is fat and water soluble; it contains abundant quantities of both fat (e.g., vitamin E, vitamin A, curcumin, and carotenoids) and water-soluble antioxidants (e.g., vitamin C and flavonoids). Free radicals that are formed in the lipid (fatty) sections of the body (cell membranes) are handled by the fat-soluble antioxidants. Those that are formed in the watery or aqueous sections (blood and fluids within and around cells) are handled by the water-soluble antioxidants.
Ingredients include green tea, which has been shown to have extremely potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and whole turmeric, one of the great Ayurvedic healing herbs. Turmeric has hundreds of molecular constituents, each with a variety of beneficial biological activities — antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic (inhibits pain), and many others.
The blend also contains high amounts of trans-resveratrol, the biologically active form of resveratrol, a remarkable polyphenol found in various foods, including grapes, blueberries, and Japanese knotweed. Studies confirm the myriad, powerful, and far-reaching benefits of resveratrol, including lowered blood pressure, blood sugar, and bad cholesterol; increased life spans and athletic endurance; anti-tumor properties; potent anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.