As we prepare for a new school year, you may be looking at your family’s supplement regimen and wondering if it needs a re-boot. This can be a great time to see your local naturopathic doctor since NDs are experts at optimizing your neutraceutical and lifestyle routines to help you prevent and treat diseases you are most at risk for. But, until you take the most personalized approach, here are some supplements you may want to consider.
Found in green tea, L-theanine gives you the calming and stress-combating effects you get from sitting with cup of freshly brewed green tea. This amino acid helps your body deal with stress and has also been found to help with depression, anxiety and even sleep difficulties. I often recommend the supplement Cortisol Manager, which contains L-theanine, to those who have been dealing with significant amounts of stress for long periods of time but L-theanine can also be taken on its own for everyday stresses and can be absorbed through daily cups of green tea as well.
A high quality B Complex
B vitamins are co-factors for so many reactions in your body. I often see patients who have put themselves on one B vitamin or another (ie B12 or B6) but without the insight and advice of a qualified healthcare provider, you may be taking the wrong inidividual B vitamin for your personal health profile. For this reason, I often recommend patients start with a good quality B complex until we do testing to identify individual needs. B vitamins are safe to take in combination and taking a complex of Bs can help you improve energy levels and other neurological symptoms. B vitamins are also critical to the detoxification processes your liver performs so as you transition from holiday fare to healthier foods in the new year, your liver will thank you for the extra support.
Supplementing with Vitamin D can be more critical in the winter months when the days are shorter and we spend less time outside, absorbing Vitamin D from the sunshine. The best way to determine your ideal dose of Vitamin D is to have your Vitamin D levels tested to understand how close you are to optimal levels (50-60 ng/mL) but until your test results come in, I recommend a dose of 2-3,000 IU daily. A dose of 2,000 IU once a day is considered a maintenance dose and will keep your levels where they stand – preventing you from getting depleted but also not fixing a possible low level. If you’ve been avoiding the sun and the outdoors and may be low, you should increase your dose above 2,000 IU daily. While your multivitamin or calcium supplement may have some vitamin D, it likely does not contain enough Vitamin D to keep you at the healthy levels required by your immune system to allow yourself to fight off infections you may be exposed to.
There are many, many probiotics on the market and which one you should take can be very individualized (again, this is where working with a naturopathic doctor for a specific recommendation may be best) but what we do know is that a good quality probiotic can help your immune system do its job (known as immunomodulation) by hard when you’re sick and not working too hard at other times (in other words, autoimmunity). Immunomodulation can help your body decrease symptoms such as allergies, eczema and viral infections. Ideally look for a probiotic that has more than one strain and for immune support it should contain lactobacillus and/or bifidobacterium. The very best researched probiotics have numbers by the strain names, indicating a method to identify the research done on this particular strain.
Elderberry is my favorite immune supportive herb…well actually it’s a berry. The syrup of these berries is easy to find in local stores, and tastes so good your whole family will be happy taking it. Elderberry has been found to be a very effective antiviral. Since viruses cause most of our upper respiratory infections, as well as the flu, using elderberry syrup to prevent winter time illnesses is a no-brainer. You can use one teaspoon daily as a preventative measure or start taking it at a higher dose when you’re starting to feel a tickle in your throat. This is how I use it and I can almost feel my immune system revving up when I do.
A routine of good quality supplements can keep you healthy and happy through the winter months. But I’m a big advocate for being sure my patients are not taking more supplements than they need to be or taking poor quality products. If you feel like you need some individual advice on supplements that you’re taking or considering taking, give the office a call to schedule an appointment.