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Navigating Supplements

By: Amelia Hunt, FNTP

The world of supplements can be confusing and definitely make you wonder what exactly you should be taking each day. We get inundated with a lot of opinions, trends, and greenwashing of what we should be taking. And maybe this is just one more opinion to be overwhelmed by, but I hope you find it more relieving and helpful than overwhelming.

I recently did a health rant on Instagram about crummy brands of supplements that are typically full of sugar, additives, and bad oils. I got a large response that has lead me to this post to help you make a more informed and healthier choice for yourself and your family when it comes to supplementation.

Quality matters:

The key to choosing supplement brands are choosing brands that use *high quality* ingredients, vitamins, & minerals. Mass produced supplement brands may seem fine and actually pretty clean. But you have to keep in mind the level of quality. The brands below are even used and recommended by Naturopaths and other NTP's like myself.

For example, one of my favorite brands (sold only to practitioners unfortunately), Biotics, this is their statement on quality: "We believe in dealing with root causes rather than masking symptoms, and we believe that healing comes from real food: as pure, unprocessed, unadulterated, and nutrient-dense as possible." This tells me loads, but also looking at individual products they do everything possible to keep common food sensitivities out of their products.

An example of poor quality vs high quality supplements:

Bad fish oil supplement: fish that are larger like cod, halibut, etc can contain higher levels of mercury. Or if they have canola, soy, or other hydrogenated oils.

Good fish oil supplement: Contains anchovy, herring, mackerel, sardine (small fish), these do not contain high levels of mercury & are excellent sources of EPA, ALA, DHA. They may also contain oils like flax or borage oils.

Take supplements your body ACTUALLY needs:

It is always recommended that someone (a practitioner) is managing your supplements. Our bodies change throughout the seasons of life and sometimes we don't need to keep taking the ones we were taking a year ago. Supplementing with things our body doesn't need is a waste of money because our body just ends up eliminating them.

If you aren't willing to see someone to determine what supplements are best for the imbalances your body has, I encourage you to research what issues you are dealing with and what vitamin or mineral could help remedy that issue. Taking supplements just because you think its "good thing to take" doesn't necessarily mean it is or right for your body.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing really wrong with taking supplements without practitioner management. They rarely cause any kind of issue because they are naturally occurring. Without further testing its hard to know what someone's body truly needs, otherwise it can be a waste of money and simply unnecessary for your body.

Absorption of supplements is key:

Supplementation is tricky to manage yourself, because if your digestive system is "leaky" - supplements aren't going to do much. So healing your gut lining first is key, then work on the vitamin and mineral imbalances and having someone help you know what to do first makes a major impact.

Doctor recommended:

If your doctor is recommending certain supplements due to bloodwork below are reputable brands to choose from. Typical supplements a traditional MD would recommend are things like calcium, fish oil, vitamin B, C, D, E, iron, and possibly even magnesium. They will rarely recommend brands to you though...

Funny story actually - I had a client recently tell me that their doctor recommended that they take tums daily for calcium. I kept my reaction to myself but TBH... I'm terrified that this is something an actual doctor suggested as a calcium supplement, yikes! This is concerning because tums are stomach acid prohibitors, reducing our digestive capacity. This is bad because we NEED stomach acid to break our food down. Needless to say I recommended a different calcium supplement from Pure encapsulations for that client, one that wouldn't effect her digestive process.

... but as far as "brands" recommended by your typical doc this is not an area of training for them, so if your doc does recommend a certain vitamin or mineral choose from one of these brands below.

Brands that I recommend:

  • Ancestral Supplements

  • Garden of Life

  • Gaia

  • Now

  • Pure Encapsulations

  • Nordic Naturals

  • Integrative Therapeutics

  • Prenatals: Needed or Full circle

Ingredients to avoid:

  • Sugar

  • Vegetable & hydrogenated oils

  • Corn starch

  • Gluten or dairy additives

  • "Natural" flavors

  • Color dyes

  • Gums

  • Remember: Quality of the vitamin or mineral is most important. Yes, Tums has calcium, but is that really a good choice for calcium supplementation? -no.

Ingredients to not be concerned with:

  • Glycerin

  • Gelatin

  • Vegetable capsule

  • Gelatin capsule

  • Anything that is explicit in what the "natural flavor" is. For example: "lemon natural flavor" or "berry natural flavor"

  • Pectin

  • Extracts

  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

  • Citric Acid

*In some cases, practitioners give into an ingredient in a supplement because the benefits outweigh the cons. But it is still always good for you to question, if you want to understand the reasoning more.

Do you have more questions or concerns? I'm happy to talk with you more. Feel free to send me a message or email.


Amelia Hunt, FNTP

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