necessity is the mother of invention {& that's why we're here, friends} we dance to the music, we play in the kitchen & sometimes that means one of us breaks the wine glasses {we're not saying who} the cook is a cubicle-warmer/learning & development specialist by day, & a writer/photographer/kitchen goddess by night who has fun inventing healthy things she can actually eat we seriously both need capes & a kick-ass theme song & the baker is a catering delivery superhero; no job too big or too early or too floral not to come home & make magic with a mixer & an oven we are always gluten-free, dairy-free, & magically delicious now, somebody turn up the music! we're about to get our dance on!

09 May 2008

supplement junkie

Staying healthy takes a lot of work, especially when you're dealing with various imbalances and deficiencies (like me). When I first saw the naturopath a little over a year ago, the first thing he did was order an extensive blood panel. The results revealed that I was deficient in calcium and iron, had hypothyroidism as well as lowered adrenal gland function. Once my diet was on track, it was much easier to come back from those deficiences with the appropriate supplemental support.

Another more recent blood test revealed I was severely deficient in Vitamin D. Sigh. But since I started taking extra, I'm feeling better than ever. Not only that, Vitamin D deficiency is pretty dangerous, as this article attests, so thank God for a thorough naturopath!

I've learned a lot about supplementation in the past year and here's a run down of what I'm taking now and what is keeping me running ...

Multi-vitamin - No supplement regimen is complete without a good multi-vitamin! Seriously, start here. I'm taking One-a-Day Women's Multi. It's pretty easy to find a good multi to meet your needs.

Calcium-Magnesium-Zinc with Vitamin D - Calcium and magnesium are essential to maintaining good health; calcium and magnesium are essential for healthy bones and zinc supports cell division and growth as well as supports the body's immune system. Many Cal-Mag-Zinc supplements contain vitamin D, as calcium cannot be absorbed without the presence of vitamin D.

Iron - Iron is a substance that performs many functions, not the least of which is delivering oxygen through the entire human body. It is essential for good muscle function, as well as helping to break down substances that might be harmful to your health. Iron deficiency (or iron deficient anemia) results in weakness and tiredness. Iron is best absorbed by the body in the presence of Vitamin C and can cause constipation, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids if you're taking an iron supplement.

L-Glutamine - Glutamine is an amino acid, the building block of which protein is made. Glutamine is essential for the production and repair of cells. This was one of the main components of the Intestinal Repair supplement I took a little over a year ago when I first consulted the naturopath regarding my stomach and digestive issues. It is the most plentiful amino acid and muscle tissue and as such, plays a crucial role in all areas of the body. For me, it helps continue the healing work of my digestive and intestinal tracts (which are most definitely still in healing mode), alleviates the symptoms of leaky gut (you definitely and most decidedly do not want that) and as a bonus, it aids in mental acuity, too. Go go, glutamine!!

Acidophilus (or, Lactobacillus Acidophilus) - Acidophilus is a friendly bacteria ("probiotic") that inhabits the intestines (and the vagina, in women. Never thought you'd see that word on a cooking blog, did you?). Acidophilus supports digestion, helps suppress disease-causing bacteria, and prevents yeast overgrowth in the body. Because antibiotics kill acidophilus, it is generally a good idea to take an acidophilus supplement when on a course of antibiotic treatment to replace the healthy bacteria (preventing urinary tract infections and yeast infections in women).

Vitamin D - Vitamin D is one of four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) that supports overall health. I'm taking extra vitamin D these days (4,000 IU per day) in order to rebound from a deficiency. As mentioned earlier, vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium. Vitamin D helps stabilize and maintain cellular integrity, helping to prevent cancer.

Co-enzyme Q10 - CoQ10 (also known as ubiquinone) is essential for energy production and is an antioxidant, a type of molecule that counteracts processes resulting in disease. CoQ10 lives in every plant and animal cell and luckily, most people get plenty of the enzyme in their daily diet. Because I'm contending with several deficiencies, this supplement helps maintain my energy level throughout the day and ensures I have plenty of energy for a good and productive workout. CoQ10 is fat-soluble and so is best taken with fatty foods (I take it after my morning hot cereal, which I load up with slivered almonds and flax seeds).

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil) - You've probably heard a lot about Omega 3's. They help protect your heart and help lower cholesterol. Omega 3's have anti-inflammatory properties and help protect your myelin, which shields your nerves from damage. There is still a lot of research being conducted about all the benefits of Omega 3's, but it appears that it may protect against symptoms of depression, anxiety, and a variety of mental disorders.

Vitamin C (taken in liquid form as Emergen-C) - Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and as such, your body does not store it, so it needs to be replenished. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron and is essential to for the growth and repair of tissues throughout your body. It is essential to the production of collagen, an important protein for making skin. Vitamin C is another vitamin that helps protect against cancer and is essential for a healthy immune system.

To learn more about any of these or other supplements, check out this list.

So every morning after my hot cereal (rice cereal or gluten-free oatmeal), I gather no less than 12 of these little supplement pills in my hand and down them with a tart and fizzy glass of tropical flavored Emergen-C. While taking this many supplements comes at a price, I feel healthier and more energetic than ever, so yeah ... it's totally worth it to me.

NOTE: Especially with this post, keep in mind that I'm supplementing my diet with these under the supervison of a naturopathic physician. It's always a good idea to consult your own physician if you're wondering what kind of supplementation might be beneficial for you.

supplement photos by kirsten.michelle


Ilse said...

I need to be better at taking my supplements - what helps you to remember to take them?

kirsten said...

it was all about establishing the routine for me. i store all of the ones i need to take right next to my breakfast cereal. that way i can't forget!!