Creating Nutritional Balance With Supplements

Each time I meet with any client for an initial nutrition session one of the questions I ask are what supplements they take and why.

While supplements need to all be individualized there are some general guidelines to follow. Please note I am not recommending every single person take these, but reviewing guidelines and specificities I have found in science and translating to practice with results.

Any woman of childbearing age can benefit from taking a multi-vitamin. There is one reason and this is folate and how significantly it relates to the development of the baby. Multi-vitamins have folate and women have a hard time getting it unless they take in foods higher in folate. Here is the Academy’s recommendation on Folate and B-vitamins. Over the years one of the best multi-vitamin products on the market has been Centrum. However, most supplements are made by only a handful of companies. Treat yourself to Centrum or buy the product next to it that is less expensive – saving money for a few other supplements listed below.

We have heard much ado about vitamin D for just under a decade. I have heard premier researchers speak on Vitamin D. When we get our labs checked our vitamin D 3 and vitamin D 2 may get valued. Normal for vitamin D3 is usually between 30-100 ng/ml and we are most interested in our vitamin D3 and keeping these levels normalized.

Anyone above latitude 42 may be at risk for vitamin D3 insufficiency! If a person’s vitamin D 3 level is above 30 but not much higher, generally I recommend 2000 IU a day of this supplement. If their levels are between 20-30 ng/ml, I recommend 5000 IU/day. I have seen clients and patients with levels as low as 6 ng/ml and for these folks we need a prescription level of vitamin D that often is about 50,000 units a week – all in one pill, though.
A lack of vitamin D can affect many pieces of our health and it is quite specific to our mood.

In my practice I see a lot of women with issues related to PMS and menopause. One of the best supplement helpers for bloating, hot flashes, and mood swings is B6. We don’t get enough B6 in a multivitamin or a B-complex to make a difference to these pieces in our body. I usually start with a 50 mg amount of B6 and if we see results we stop here. It is acceptable to go up to 200 mg a day of B6. Sometimes clients may get side effects like tingling in their fingers as a result of the higher dose but this comes right down again when the amount is decreased, as B6 is a water-soluble vitamin.

If you’ve seen me in practice or heard one of my talks on nutrition you know how I feel about probiotics. I LOVE them and if it were up to me they’d be in the water!

Probiotics help keep our gut healthy. There is so much amazing research on this topic. If our gut is healthy our whole bodies will follow suit – hair, nails, personality, weight – just everything. I recommend at least trying to eat yogurt or kefir every day but if this isn’t part of your daily routine, taking in a probiotic supplement of at least acidophilus will help.

Acidophilus tablets on their own are also the least expensive. If you want to get fancy I recommend clients choose a product like PB8 (blue top for regular and green top for vegan) or Align or Culturelle from the pharmacy or grocery. There is also another great company called where you can register and get a coupon then order your product delivered to your door. Remember the usual amount of a probiotic is 2 capsules.

Consumer Infographic[2]

Fish oil and omega 3 fatty acids are essential to our health and specifically to women in cognition, mood, and heart health. I have included several links here including a quiz to see if you need to supplement with this product.

This is my favorite omega 3 product that has been given a stamp of approval by several well known health experts. The amount per day is two. In a past newsletter I recommended chia seeds as a way to get in omega-3’s however it’s the longer chain EPA and DHA foods such as fatty fish or foods fortified with EPA and DHA like eggs and milk which give us the greater cardio-protective benefits. The graphic above illustrates the percentage of Americans possibly deficient in omega-3’s.

I do put preaching into practice and take 2000 IU of vitamin D3, PB8 (blue top) probiotics (2/day is a serving) and the omega 3 every day myself.
I am not planning on more children and my diet is healthy so I have taken the multivitamin out of my daily regime. For the first time ever my vitamin D was low this past year. I am attributing this to more snow than we’ve had over the past few years and moving to the suburbs – less walking around the city of Boston for a few minutes of winter sun every day to get my vitamin D.

This is only some of the information that I’ve gained over the years in my practice and I’m happy to share more. Next month we’ll cover supplements for men – just in time for Father’s Day. Email me with any questions or concerns you have around nutrition or supplements. I’m always happy to help.