The #6 of the top 6 supplements you should be taking is… well, it depends. It depends on your family history, your symptoms, and other medical conditions. The following are some of my favorite supplements for those with specific problems. What makes these supplements favorites is that there is evidence that these supplements are beneficial for some people and I have seen improvement either in clinical symptoms and/or improvement in laboratory values or other testing.
Gastrointestinal problems: Much of our immune system is in our gastrointestinal tract and depends on a normal population of good bacteria. This bacteria requires fiber in order to thrive. Our typical American diet high in processed foods and low in fiber is a set up for poor gastointestinal immune function and subsequent problems. Patients who have irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, lactose intolerance, allergies, inflammation, or allergies should consider taking a daily probiotic of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria (10-60 billion colonies). We can help support a healthy GI tract by eating at least 30 grams of fiber = 5 cups of fiber rich foods such as fruits, vegies, beans, nuts, oats, and whole grains.
Insomnia – Sleep is essential to life and chronic insomnia is linked to a wide array of medical problems including obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc… Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that regulates our sleep cycles. Many of my patients have been able to stop taking chronic prescription sleep medications, which are addictive and dangerous, by supplementing with Melatonin. Our bodies produce 0.3mg of Melatonin daily. Usual effective dosage ranges from 0.3mg to 5mg taken 30-60 minutes before bed. I prefer short-acting, sublingual tabs. There are many things that we do that disrupt our sleep cycle and we should always look first to correct those sleep disrupters. Read more about how to treat insomnia.
Peri-menopause/menopause – Women with symptoms of hormone imbalance during the perimenopausal and menopausal life stage often respond to an herbal combination of herbs such as wild yam, black cohash, dong quai, and red clover such as MedCaps Menopause. Exercise and good nutrition is also helpful for hormone balance. Read more about how to balance hormones naturally.
Attention Deficit Disorder, depression, osteoarthritis, autoimmune disease: high dose fish oil (start at 3 grams per day) has been shown to be helpful for some patients who have mood and attention disorders, arthritis, and autoimmune disease.
Osteoporosis/Osteopenia -The category of supplements that I am most excited about are those that provide flexibility and strength to our bones. I have seen more reduction in bone loss with these supplements than with prescription drugs for osteoporosis. Instead of blocking the bone renewal process, this approach gives the body what it needs to support the normal process of renewal and replenishment of our bones. Choline-stabilized orthosilic acid (ch-OSA) provides the collagen matrix that calcium and other minerals need to attach to the bone. Osaplex combines this ch-OSA with high quality MCHC calcium and Vitamin D. Read more blogs about bone health and osteoporosis.
Diabetes – Chromium, cinnamon, alpha lipooic acid, and green tea extracts have been shown to improve blood sugar control and insulin metabolism. Some companies make combinations of these vitamins and herbs, such as Xymogen CinnDrome X
High Cholesterol – Red Yeast Rice is an herb that helps reduce LDL cholesterol by 20-30%. It is a naturally occuring herb that works similar to medications like statins and has the same potential side effects (rarely achy muscles and elevation in liver enzymes) so it is essential to be monitored by a physician.
Prostate enlargement – Saw Palmetto helps to shrink the prostate and reduce symptoms of prostate enlargement like frequent urination.
Just to summarize this blog series on supplements… It is ALWAYS best to get our nutrients from a diet full of whole, nutrient-dense foods including colorful fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, whole grains, legumes (beans), nuts/seeds, plant-based oils, leans meats, and oily cold-water fish. For those who are concerned that they aren’t getting the nutrients for optimal health, some of the supplements you may consider are fish oil, Vitamin D, B-Complex, Calcium/minerals, and a multivitamin. The quality of supplements is extremely important in order to get the benefit from them. For those who missed some of the blogs or want to review, click here to see all the blogs on supplements.