Naturopath Recommended Natural Supplements
In the last year we have seen an increased interest in people who are looking to improve their health naturally. Supplements are a great way to do just that - supplement you! Natural supplements are often safe and effective in improving deficiency and come with many benefits. No matter your goal, there is a natural supplement that can assist you. Obviously in conjunction with a good diet and lifestyle. So, what should you be taking? We have put together a handy buyers guide of our top 5 favourite supplements for a better you! Our top three include vitamin D supplements, zinc supplements and iron supplements.
Vitamin D Supplements
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D, lovingly referred to as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is present in foods (such as eggs) and is made within the body when we are exposed to sunlight. It is one of the handful of nutrients that are necessary for the human body. There are a few reasons why one may become deficient in Vitamin D. This includes decreased dietary intake or absorption, which could be caused by inflammatory disease in the gut. As it is a fat-soluble vitamin, having fat present in the gut also assists in Vitamin D absorption.
As 50-90% of our vitamin D is absorbed through the skin. Decreased sun exposure can cause vitamin D deficiency, which can be decreased due to people wearing sunscreen or pollution! Studies have found that deficiency of vitamin D can not only lead to rickets, but is also associated with increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and depression. Symptoms of deficiency include tiredness, aches & pains, bone or muscle pains, and stress fractures. Therefore, daily supplementation can provide a number of benefits to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts.
Benefits of Vitamin D supplementation:
- Bone health: Vitamin D is the most vital vitamin in regulating calcium and phosphorus absorption which is extremely important for the development, growth and maintenance of bone health. If you aren’t getting enough Vitamin D, supplementation can assist at reducing the risk of developing osteomalacia or osteoporosis.
- Immune system: Vitamin D assists in facilitating normal immune system function. Studies have even found that supplementation can reduce the likelihood of develop ing the flu! Some have linked this to the reason why in colder (cloudier) months, we tend to get more sick. It's because we’re not getting enough sun! Vitamin D supplementation has been also linked to the reduction in risk of developing Autoimmune conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Type 1 Diabetes.
- Mental health: it’s also a sunshine vitamin because it can make you happier! Supplementation of Vitamin D has shown to ameliorate symptoms of depression, and deficiency has been linked to higher likelihood of anxiety and depression! This is because vitamin D is involved in various brain processes, with receptors located on neurons in areas of the brain thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of depression.
- Weight loss: Vitamin D deficiency is correlated with obesity. Not only has Vitamin D supplementation been linked to improved weight loss compared to placebo, it also improved heart disease risk markers in those who were overweight.
Our top picks:
Our favourite form of vitamin D is cholecalciferol (D3), which is shown to be more effective in improving serum levels. A good dose for those under 65 is at least 600-800IU/day, and those over 65 should look to consume at least 800-1000IU/day to reduce risk of fractures. My favourite products are:
- Whole Earth & Sea Vegan Vitamin D3: this plant-based source from lichen, of vitamin D3 has a good dosage of 1000IU. It non-GMO’d and certified gluten free.
- Vitus Immune-D: this plant-based blend of natural ingredients containing Vitamin D3 is great for all-round immunity support. It’s free from any fillers or sweeteners, preservatives and additives. Taken within dosage will meet the recommended daily intake (RDI) or Vitamin D!
- Naturobest Calcium & Magnesium Plus K2 & D3: This powder is great for all ages over 2 years and contains important nutrients, including 500IU of vegan Vitamin D3, required for calcium absorption. It can assist in healthy pregnancy, decreasing cramps and healthy bone development.
What is zinc?
Zinc is a superstar mineral! It is required for many processes within the body. Much like Vitamin D, it is a nutrient that is required by the human body. Although, we don’t naturally produce it, and we don’t store it either. This means we have to get zinc through diet or supplementation. Foods that are high in zinc include shellfish (especially oysters), meat, nuts & seeds and some vegetables. Zinc is required for many processes within the body including gene expression, enzymatic reaction, immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing and growth and development. People can easily become deficient in zinc due to inadequate dietary intake and poor absorption. This is most noticeable in third-world countries, where zinc deficiency is associated with almost half a million deaths of children under 5 each year due to its role in the immune system.
People can also be at increased risk of deficiency due to having gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease, being vegetarian or vegan, in pregnancy or breastfeeding or are alcoholics. Deficiency can lead to many different symptoms including poor growth, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function. As deficiency becomes more severe, people many notice hair loss, diarrhoea, impotence & fertility issues, delayed healing of wounds and taste abnormalities.
Benefits of zinc supplementation:
The most well-absorbed form of Zinc is in the form of gluconate & zinc citrate. It’s hard to measure levels of zinc within the blood, but if you’re concerned about not getting enough zinc in your diet, you should be supplementing. The RDI for adults is 11mg for men and 8mg for women (increases in pregnancy & lactation). Although, absorption is questionable that’s why it’s important to find a good dosed supplement. My favourite products are:
- Herbs of Gold Ultra Zinc +: this combines three forms of zinc including the two most easy to absorb. It’s a great daily dose which contains 50mg of elemental zinc, as well as a small amount of magnesium, vitamin B6 and Vitamin A.
- Herbs of Gold Zinc Forte + C: A great immune boosting formula containing Zinc citrate, beta-carotene & Vitamin C which can help to boost immune system and decrease oxidation.
- Naturobest Preconception Multi for Men: provides key levels of Zinc and other nutrients that can support healthy sperm parameters. Free from copper which can effect absorption.
What is iron?
Iron is another crucial mineral found in the human body. Unlike zinc, we can store it in our bodies. It has many important roles in the human body, but it is most well-known for carrying oxygen within our blood. Because it does store in our body, it’s super important that you get your levels tested before supplementation, as excess iron is associated with many health risks. People who are at highest risk of iron deficiency include people who menstruate (especially if it’s heavy), vegan or vegetarians, athletes, regular blood donors or people with chronic diseases.
When you’re deficient you may have signs and symptoms of feeling fatigued, weakness, cold hands and feet and shortness of breath. Other things that can impact iron levels is medication and even some foods. Soy protein, tea, coffee, a phytates (found in legumes) can all hinder absorption of Iron. It’s easiest to absorb form from food is found in meat, and cooked vegetables (broccoli, leafy greens). You can also have it with vitamin C to increase absorption.
Benefits of iron supplementation:
- The top benefit of supplementation is to improve deficiency. Only if you have a deficiency will iron supplementation help to eliminate fatigue, boost haemoglobin and improve immune system function.
Our top picks:
The most well-absorbed form of Iron is in the form of iron glycinate as it is less harsh on the stomach. As previously mentioned, it is important to test your levels with your doctor before supplementing. Adults males need to have approximately 8mg, females 18mg, which decreases to 8mg after 50 years of age (post-menopause). Pregnancy has a recommended dietary intake of 27mg a day. My favourite product is:
- Fusion Iron Advanced: Contains 24mg of iron glycinate, as well as b vitamins and vitamin C to improve absorption. An all rounder for those with iron and possible B Vitamin deficiency.
- Vitus Iron + C: utilizes a plant-based, non-haem form of iron (not from animals) which is gentle on the stomach and is also better absorbed into the body with the addition of Vitamin C.