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SUMMER SUPPLEMENTS - WHAT I TAKE AND WHY


As a physician and someone who cares passionately about contributing to my health, I know that my daily choices make a huge impact on my wellness over time. What I choose to eat for breakfast, whether I get outside and move, how much sleep I get, and how I manage stress all influence how I feel and function. My body works hard for me, and it does so willingly because I nourish it with a wholesome, plant-based diet and a few, select supplements. I am a believer in eating real greens over powdered greens, and getting as many vitamins from whole food sources as possible. That said, there are some nutrients that are not easily available in dietary form, or at least in a high enough quantity to be practical.

Here is my daily supplement diary, with a little bit of the science behind my decision to incorporate these additions to my diet - you know I don’t do much without some science to back up the plan!

AM SUPPLEMENTS

BLACK SEED OIL (Nigella sativa)

This ritual is a bit like the Vitameatavegamin episode of I Love Lucy, or at least it was when I started. I take a spoonful of this oil on an empty stomach every day, and it’s got a spicy, peppery hit that makes me shiver just a smidge as I swallow. Oddly, though, I’m starting to crave it first thing in the morning, and now I chase it with a sip of tea.

MY BRAND: 
Alive Herbals Black Seed Oil

MY DOSE: 
1 teaspoon on an empty stomach daily

MY REASONS: 
Black cumin seed oil is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial (works against bacteria, certain viruses, and fungi), aids in wound healing, promotes collagen production, and has some analgesic effect (pain relief). It is one of the most extensively studied plant oils, with over 200 clinical studies investigating its use for various conditions, both when taken orally and applied to the skin. Black cumin seed oil is rich in a component called thymoquinone, which is a powerful antioxidant, and even has some activity against certain types of cancer cells.

Black cumin seed oil is useful for acne-prone skin types, as well as those with eczema and psoriasis. I chose it for our Balance Serum because acne is primarily an inflammatory condition, and the data about black seed oil and inflammation is remarkable. It also shows notable activity against the bacteria that cause acne, propionibacterium acnes.

COOL FACTS: 
The ancient Egyptians, who seemed to have all the most important beauty secrets, believed in the anti-inflammatory power of the oil over 2000 years ago - King Tut even took a bottle of it with him to the grave! The prophet Muhammad allegedly stated that “there is healing in black cumin for all diseases except death” (Sahih Bukhari 7:71:592). Today, black cumin seed oil is also referred to as black seed oil, kalonji, black caraway oil, and nigella sativa, the botanical name for the plant.

B COMPLEX

MY BRAND:
MegaFood's Balanced B Complex

MY DOSE: 
1 tablet per day

MY REASONS: 
I've been a vegetarian for 20 years because I decided that if I couldn’t pull the trigger myself, I didn’t want to let someone else do it for me. I eat organic farm eggs occasionally, but I don’t drink milk, so I take this vitamin to make sure my body has enough energy to thrive throughout the day.

COOL FACTS:
B vitamins are water-soluble, which means that they are not stored in the body’s fat cells, but eliminated via the urinary tract, and need to be replenished daily. Vitamin B6 is helpful in mitigating the symptoms of PMS (raise your hand if you want a double dose!). Vitamin B12 is found in animal-derived food sources, so it’s the one most likely to be deficient in vegans or long-term vegetarians.

SUPER SPECIAL B3

MY BRAND: 
TruNiagen

MY DOSE: 
2 capsules per morning

MY REASONS: 
There is a ton of emerging science on Niagen, which is a special form of Vitamin B3, and a precursor to something called NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). NAD is essentially an external power source for our cells, and it naturally declines as we age. Now, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of the “anti-aging” concept, because I think it makes aging into something negative, instead of the privilege it actually is. But, I am a fan of helping our bodies age as happily and healthily as possible, and increasing your NAD is one way to do that. Improving your supply of NAD by supplementing with Niagen can help with so many things: muscular recovery in athletes; sharp, clear thinking; better sleep patterns; hormone regulation; even cellular recovery from sun damage over time. As with black cumin seed oil, there are quite a few medical studies about niagen, and almost all of them show that having more NAD in our systems is beneficial. I notice increased mental clarity and general energy levels when I’m taking niagen, and getting rid of brain fog is always a good thing!

COOL FACTS: 
Unfortunately, sun exposure, overeating, alcohol, and travel - things we are all guilty of some days - are all ways in which we decrease our supply of NAD. Fortunately, you can make more NAD, especially if you give your body one of the critical building blocks in the form of niagen.

EVENING PRIMROSE OIL

MY BRAND:
Deva Vegan Evening Primrose Oil

MY DOSE:
1-2 vegan capsules per day

MY REASONS: 
Evening Primrose Oil is full of fatty acids called gamma-linoleic acid, or GLA. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, renowned holistic health and integrative medical doctor, "as we age, our bodies get drier inside and out. Evening primrose oil nourishes the skin, hair, nails, even the joints. The GLA it contains strengthens the skin barrier and reduces moisture loss." In my case, I was struggling with perioral dermatitis when I started taking it, and noticed that my skin seemed much less fragile once I started evening primrose oil. I did some research, and found that it can be helpful in eczema and atopic dermatitis also, though the evidence is still equivocal. It can also be helpful in managing PMS symptoms, so it’s a win-win situation for me.

COOL FACTS: 
Native to North America, the Evening Primrose plant was used by Native Americans to treat hemorrhoids, heal wounds, and soothe sore throats. In 17th century England, the herb was also considered a “cure-all” and used to treat a broad range of ailments.

CHASTE BERRY + BLACK COHOSH FOR PMS

MY BRAND:
OONA Type 1 (The website is a bit low-tech…)
 

MY DOSE: 
One pill per day, with the extra passionflower pill for the week before my cycle.

MY REASONS: 
When I stopped taking hormones about six years ago, it was the worst roller coaster ride I’d ever experienced. It was even worse than the time I rode Space Mountain with my dad and he did this fake-fading-scream thing like he had fallen off the ride to his death in the pitch black darkness. So, I was on the hunt for something to take the edge off my mood swings and cramps, and reduce my bloating and breast tenderness. This stuff does the trick like magic.

COOL FACTS: 
Okay, actually not cool at all - this product is out of production at the moment. They are having trouble sourcing their ingredients, which I totally understand; our Sunset Body Oil has been out of stock for ages because of a worldwide vanilla shortage! So, if you can’t find it online, here’s the ingredient breakdown per tablet: 225mg chaste tree berry and 40mg black cohosh. There’s also a 100mg passionflower supplement for the 7-10 days before your cycle. 

TRACE MINERALS

MY BRAND:
ConcenTrace Mineral Drops

MY DOSE:
6-8 drops per 20 ounce bottle of water

MY REASONS: 
I live in rural Colorado, and we drink well water. We filter the water with a reverse-osmosis system, which removes EVERYTHING from the water. We have to do it this way because of the high iron content of our water, but it leaves us with “dead water” - no minerals whatsoever. Additionally, much of the US soil in which our vegetables are grown has been depleted of its minerals, so even the healthy raw foods we eat may not be as rich in minerals as they once were.  As someone who does something athletic most days of the week, it’s especially important for me to replenish electrolytes and minerals to maintain hydration, energy levels, and proper cellular function.
 

COOL FACTS: 
This product is harvested from the Great Salt Lake in Utah, considered a sea with no outlet. If you notice that your pet eats lots of grass, he might need a few extra minerals as well - you can add a few drops to his water, too!
 

PM SUPPLEMENT

MAGNESIUM

MY BRAND: 
Natural Vitality Natural Calm Magnesium Supplement (I normally take the gummies, but they are out of stock, so I will need to switch to powder supplement until the gummies reappear.)

MY DOSE:
400-600 mg magnesium per night

MY REASONS: 
Magnesium is a mineral found in a lot of foods - think almonds, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and avocados. Most people either don’t get enough magnesium in their diets, or they deplete their levels with caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. Low magnesium levels can result in fatigue, arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm), poor sleep, constipation, and anxiety.

I started taking magnesium as a sleep supplement, and the results were impressive. I have no trouble falling asleep, but if I wake up at 2am, Monkey Brain Syndrome goes into full effect. With magnesium on board, I wake up less frequently, and fall back asleep quickly if I do wake. I have also had occasional episodes of an arrhythmia called SVT (supraventricular tachycardia), but it seems to be almost non-existent when I’m taking magnesium regularly.

COOL FACTS: 
Choosing a menu with more magnesium may be beneficial in reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. Other foods rich in magnesium are tofu, black beans, and dark chocolate, so maybe you need to make a batch of black bean brownies to go with your vitamins?

 

With love and a handful of summer health from us to you,

 

 

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