My Thoughts on Supplementation 

IMG_5778

A beautiful bounty of organic produce

I went back and forth on whether or not to take supplements as I grew up. The media tends to confuse us with the back and forth studies: Multivitamins will raise mortality rates, no wait, vitamins are good for you! The thing I’ve come to realize over time and much researching is that the Type and Quality of the supplements you take matter. You can indeed cause harm by taking the wrong type of supplements or the wrong doses. Vitamin A in beta carotene form is way different than Vitamin A in retinol form. Vitamin C as ascorbic acid is very different from whole food Vitamin C derived from oranges.

So, what do we take for supplementation? Should you supplement? What about children?

It’s also important to understand your body’s unique needs and genetics. If you can afford to do it, I highly recommend getting your genome test done from a site such as 23andme.com. This allows you to better understand what your body’s individual needs are. For example, if you have a defect in the MTFHR gene you should be taking methyl folate. What you take will also be based on your dietary needs as well. Supplementation is meant to enhance and supplement your healthy diet, not supplant a bad diet.

From the time I thought about possibly having a baby, I took a multivitamin only with a separate fish oil supplement. I did this throughout my pregnancy. I did not want to use the prescription prenatal with all of the additives and artificial colors. I used New Chapter Perfect Prenatal organic whole food derived vitamins, and Garden of Life Ocean’s Mom 3 Prenatal fish oil supplement. Optimally, you would skip the multivitamin and try to buy each supplement you need individually. This is not the easiest route and it takes more research and money, but if you can do it, go for it!

What do I take today? A slew of supplements, which I understand is not a fit for everyone, but it works for me to keep my health optimal. It is costly and you have to put in the effort to swallow 20 pills a day. This is my current list of vitamins:

  1. Gotu Kola by Nature’s Way – I heard of this from Wim Hof, it is good for the skin sag I have from the rapid wasting I had in the hospital on chemo.
  2. Caprylic Acid by Now – This is good antifungal and has many uses. From PubMed: Caprylic acid is superior to & less expensive than Diflucan, & has potential application for anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-Alzheimer’s disease, anti-Autism, anti-infection, & general circulatory improvement.
  3. Hawthorn Extract by Now – This has been studied many times on PubMed for use in treating CHF, or heart failure. It is also good for Hypertension. Anyone who has been through cancer treatments knows that your cardiovascular system could use some support!
  4. Organic Olive Leaf Oil by Barlean’s – The oleuropein, and other compound found in olive leaf, have a unique feature that makes the leaves particularly effective in fighting against various micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses. These substances impair the ability of the viruses to create amino acids, thus preventing their ability to reproduce and multiply. It has been found that oleuropein is able to relax the blood vessels, lower blood pressure and even prevent the formation of blood clots. In addition, olive leaf also helps to stop irregular heartbeat, improve blood flow in the coronary arteries and balances blood sugar levels.
  5. Super Ubiquinol CoQ10 by Life Extension – I have been taking CoQ10 for a long time to offset the hardships my body endured from chemo. Recently I have stepped it up with this CoQ10 + Ubiquinol. Super Ubiquinol CoQ10 with BioPQQ® contains shilajit (which studies have shown doubles CoQ10 levels in the mitochondria) plus the breakthrough compound PQQ (shown to support the spontaneous generation of new mitochondria in aging cells). This represents a three-way strategy for enhanced mitochondrial support.
  6. Ultra-C 400 by MegaFoodA landmark study published in 2004 in the Journal of American College of Nutrition studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and vitamin C over the past half century.  Today’s fruits and veggies were found to contain 30% less vitamin C than your grandparents’ fruits and vegetables.
  7. EGCg by Now – From PubMed: Intervention studies using similar amounts of green tea, containing 200-300 mg ofEGCG, have demonstrated its usefulness for maintaining cardiovascular and metabolic health.
  8. Organic Evening Primrose Oil by Barlean’s – I take this for its health benefit for hypothyroidism and hair loss/brittleness. It does seem to help with hair and skin!
  9. Vital Proteins Collagen – Collagen peptides contain the same amino acids as gelatin which is identical to the protein found in skin, nails, hair, bones, cartilage, and joints. You can add this grass fed, pasture raised collagen to any liquid or yogurt for extra nutrition.
  10. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega – Fish oil is well studied to help with inflammation and cell function. (30% of your brain is made of DHA) I also eat fish every week. Nordic Naturals uses nitrogen to process their fish oil and keep it from oxidizing. Make sure to refrigerate these!
  11. Vitamin Code Raw Calcium by Garden of Life – I was low in calcium after pregnancy so I spent time researching calcium supplements. I found that vitamin D, magnesium and K2 are very important for your body to be able to use calcium, they work synergistically. This supplement uses plant calcium along with vitamin D3, MK-7 from natto (converts to K2 in the body), magnesium, and other naturally occurring minerals and trace elements.
  12. Vitamin D3 by Life ExtensionVitamin D3 can be synthesized by humans in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from sunlight. But, due to the winter season, weather conditions, and sun block, the body’s ability to produce optimal vitamin D levels may be inhibited. I take this D3 along with the D3 in my calcium supplement to keep my D level optimal. I do not live in a sunny state (yet!) so I have my D tested regularly.
  13. Probiotic with FOS by Jarrow – Probiotics are well known to benefit gut health, the immune system, and possibly even brain health. It contains strains that help protect and maintain a balanced intestinal microflora, and support immune function and intestinal health. (FOS is a natural prebiotic fiber that enhances the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract.) They must be kept refrigerated.
  14. Turmeric Strength by MegaFoods – Curcumin is the potent anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer active ingredient in turmeric. It has been well studied to be full of awesome, with minimal contraindications. Look for products standardized for 95% curcuminoids.

For my toddler, I give him a few things to supplement his diet and picky on and off toddler eating.

  1. Rainbow Light chewable multivitamin – My integrative medicine pediatrician recommended these over gummies. Are they organic? No. But so far it is hard to find a great vitamin for kids.
  2. Nordic Naturals Omega-3 gummies – Fish oil is important for good health and brain development, and this is one of the best brands out there for fish oil. It also doesn’t smell or taste fishy. (So that kids will eat them!)
  3. Green Pastures Blue Ice Infused Organic Coconut Oil – Each serving has 65% min coconut oil, 2+/-ml of Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil, and .5ml +/- of X-Factor Gold High Vitamin Butter oil and / or Blue Ice Skate Liver Oil. I mix this in warm juice so that my little one will take it and get his healthy fats.
  4. Udo’s Choice Flora Infant’s Probiotic -includes 6 strains of beneficial bacteria for infants and toddlers 0-5 years old. One serving per day helps maintain healthy intestinal flora, support the immune system, synthesize important B vitamins necessary for development, and is ideal for travelers to maintain healthy flora while away from home. I have used this since my son was born, I would mix it in breastmilk and now in his drinks. I use extra whenever he isn’t feeling well.

Always do your research on vitamins before you start. Some people may not need to supplement if they are getting all of their nutrients from food. It is of my opinion that most people nowadays are very busy, we get old food from grocery stores that could have lost some nutrition, and we have poisoned and depleted much of our soil that it is not up to its full potential to create nutrient dense foods. For these reasons and more, I feel very comfortable taking vitamins. Nutrition is important, and we all do the best we can with what we know.

Do you supplement? What are some of your favorite supplements? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Advertisements

Our Food Budget and Grocery List

 

img_4329

One of our many fancy nut, cheese, and fruit salads

I have recently become a fan of the Frugalwoods blog since I had stumbled across it one day while perusing the internet. We had already been working on becoming more frugal so that we could save as much as we can for our move to Arizona. I’ve looked back with remorse at all the money wasted over the years on material items that rarely brought me joy for more than a few days. I had totally bought into the consumerist machine that is fed to us from birth in this country. Nowadays, organic food brings me more joy than designer bags. I suppose being a mom could do that to you!

Everything we purchase is organic whenever possible. We try to keep our food budget at $400 or less every month, buying bulk as much as we can. Here I will share our strategies for living healthy on a budget, it can indeed be done! We only eat out at a restaurant for special occasions, maybe 3 times in a year. I rely on Chipotle or Panera if we are out on a day trip and need a fast food lunch in a pinch, because they are relatively inexpensive and I trust the food quality.

I believe everyone should have access to as much organic whole food as possible. Food is thy medicine; I made a conscious choice to not compromise my family’s health by purchasing cheap food. As a cancer surviving badass as well, I attribute my great health to my diet and lifestyle. The only medication I take is natural porcine thyroid supplement because the radiation to my neck atrophied my poor little thyroid gland over time. It took about 10 years (15 to 25yrs old) for that side effect to manifest itself, but that is another story.

 

A favorite weeknight dinner, veggie stir fry

These are our staples that we purchase on a regular basis:

Costco

  • Organic eggs
  • Jasmine rice
  • Coconut water
  • Organic chicken
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon (frozen)
  • Cheese (cheddar, parmesan)
  • Kerrygold butter
  • Organic bananas
  • Nature’s Path organic oatmeal
  • Organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • San Pellegrino water
  • Organic coffee beans
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Organic extra virgin olive oil
  • Organic fruit snacks
  • Organic bread (currently Dave’s Killer Bread)
  • Organic frozen fruit (for smoothies)
  • Chips (non GMO)
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers (organic, gluten free)

Whole Foods

  • 365 organic beans (black, chickpeas, kidney beans, etc.)
  • 365 organic lentils (dry)
  • Frozen pizza
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon (when on sale)
  • 365 organic whole wheat pastas
  • Organic salad greens
  • Organic fruit (apples, pears, grapes, berries, lemon, lime, avocado)
  • Almond or Coconut Milk
  • Organic vegetables (carrots, peppers, greens, squash, potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, cucumbers, onions, garlic)
  • Fancy cheeses (when on sale)
  • Organic dark chocolate (when on sale)
  • Organic yogurt (whichever brand is on sale)
  • Organic teas (Yogi, Choice, Rishi)
  • Occasional beer and wine
  • Organic cereal
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts

Amazon (Subscribe & Save)

 

Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon with veggies

Our typical menus are simple right now as we are trying to save as much money as possible. We have been fancy in the past as I wanted the baby to be exposed to as many foods as possible during those important formative times of introducing foods. He has no food allergies at all and has rarely been ill, even being in school! I could attribute that partially to the magic of extended breastfeeding I suppose. Meat is not eaten in our home daily. Fish such as sardines and salmon I incorporate 2 to 3x a week for the healthy fats. The Mr. really enjoys chicken and bacon so we have that on occasion but only organic pastured meats.

 

A dragonfruit smoothie bowl

Breakfasts

I tend to eat simply for breakfasts during the workweek, usually yogurt and a hard-boiled egg or piece of fruit. Sometimes I will eat oatmeal instead of yogurt, and some days I have toast or muesli bread with peanut butter. Occasionally I’ll add a piece of cheese to my breakfast. I also get free coffee from work too, bonus perk!

The little guy eats cereal and a banana sometimes if he has to get to school. We usually try to do eggs and spinach cooked with coconut oil or butter if we can for him. Some days I will give him bread with peanut butter and fruit with a hard-boiled egg. On weekends I will make him pancakes from organic buckwheat flour and add fruit or organic dark chocolate chips to them for a treat. He also enjoys toast with butter and honey. I get our honey from a local friend who keeps bees.

The Mr. usually drinks bulletproof coffee during the week and does intermittent fasting. On weekends he will cook things like eggs with lentils and spinach, and sometimes bacon. Or I come up with something to make that I want to try, like this dragon fruit smoothie bowl!

 

One of our fancy weekend breakfasts

Lunches

I always pack lunch for work. I tend to bring yesterday’s dinner leftovers most days. Once a week I have a can of sardines and a salad or gluten free crackers. Sometimes I will make a tuna sandwich or beans and rice.

For the little one we try to vary his lunches more, he loves PB&J and mac n cheese like most children of course. Sometimes I will give him cut up vegetables with ranch dressing or hummus to dip them in and cheese or a hard-boiled egg. He also loves pasta with red sauce. Rice and beans are a big favorite of his as well. I just keep tossing veggies at him really. His favorites are broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, cucumber, pepper, green beans, and spinach.

We make soups on the weekends and freeze the extra

Dinners

Dinners on the weekdays are usually quicker than weekend dinners. Once a week we junk out and eat pizza. Tuesdays I typically do Taco Tuesday with black beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce. I usually have a salad or a pasta on other days. The Mr. has been working more nights now so sometimes he will set something up for us so when I get home I can finish it or just serve it. 😁 Recently he made crockpot sesame chicken with broccoli over rice. It was delicious!

I hope this peek at how we eat has helped give you an idea how to eat the best foods on a budget. My diet inspiration comes from a combination of somewhere between The Blue Zones and Bulletproof. I don’t feel like we sacrifice at all with how we eat. I would love to be able to grow all of our own food, but that will have to wait until we have our dream house in Arizona, as it gets really cold here for many months and tends to kill the garden.

 Let me know what you think, do you eat organic? How do you afford it?