Humans are endlessly curious about the lives of others. Just think of our interest in watching documentaries and reading memoirs (to say nothing of reality TV and the curiosity in what celebrities eat, how they exercise—even the contents of their purse).
But our voyeuristic pursuits aren’t always done for mere entertainment. We often look to others for inspiration and guidance, particularly when an individual can provide us with wisdom on feeling our best. In my work as a naturopathic physician, it’s only—well, natural—that patients, acquaintances and friends frequently ask: What supplements do you take in a day?
While one’s supplement regimen should be determined with the assistance of their own naturopathic doctor (or primary care physician), here’s a glimpse inside my medicine chest:
An essential trace mineral that’s found in peanuts, pecans, green peas and wild rice, zinc isn’t only for the common cold. Playing a role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, zinc is king when it comes to overall health (including the optimal function of our immune systems); it also naturally supports tissue and vision health, helps with the regulation of appetite and organically supports the reproductive system.†
But one of the biggest reasons why I consistently turn to this supplement? As an antioxidant, zinc can facilitate the support of your body’s defenses against free radicals—those compounds that can impair DNA and wreak havoc on your cells.†
2. Vitamin C
Most of us have been inundated with all the good that can come from one of the world’s most commonly-consumed vitamin—after all, the potent, water-soluble antioxidant plays a starring part in everything from those oh-s0-ubiquitious EmergenC packets to children’s gummies. Enduring popularity aside, vitamin C—in my book—has earned its reputation. Otherwise known as ascorbic acid, it has the potential to naturally support a variety of your body’s natural functions, from skin and blood vessel maintenance to cardiovascular health.†
But because Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient, it isn’t stored in the body. On top of actively looking for it in the foods I eat—oranges, strawberries, tomatoes and goji berries, to name just a few—a supplement helps me safeguard my immune system and improve my body’s response to minor injuries.†
3. Fish Oil
If you’ve been reading my blog and/or books, you know I’m a huge advocate of enhancing your diet with omega-3s. The reasons are manifold: An essential fatty acid found in algae and fatty fish like salmon and sardines, omega-3 can organically encourage cognitive and cardiovascular health; it can also support healthier moods and even influence joint comfort and flexibility (if you’re familiar with my writing, you also know that I’m an avid Iyengar yoga practitioner, for which flexibility is key).†
Fish oil supplements can be rich in these omega-3s, which additionally support healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels already within normal range and enrich immune performance.†
French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rosseau once that happiness is a “good bank account, a good cook, and good digestion.” On that last note, I’d have to agree: With the gut as your body’s “second brain,” healthy digestion is a central component of our ability to live well.
"The gut is a critical group of organs that we need to start paying attention to," says Steven Lamm, MD, the author of No Guts, No Glory. "Doing so may be the secret to improving our overall wellness.” To that end, I take probiotics—“good” bacteria that can promote a healthy immune system and gastrointestinal comfort.†
As WebMD reports, SAM-e is “a compound that’s made naturally in the body and plays an important role in normal bodily function.” To be more specific, I take SAM-e—or S-adenosylmethionine—to support healthy methylation (the process by which your body absorbs and utilizes nutrients for energy and well-being). Clinical studies also have shown that SAM-e can enhance mobility and movement and promote joint comfort, while as acting as a precursor to glutathione, an antioxidant naturally produced by the liver.†
While the boons of curcumin are presently making headlines, eastern populations have been reaping the benefits of this compound for centuries. Constituting two to six percent of turmeric—the culinary spice we relish in our curries—curcumin operates as a powerful antioxidant. It helps support a healthy inflammatory response and provides potent free radical scavenging activity; it may support liver health as well.†
Diindolymethane—or, more commonly, DIM—is a phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. A DIM supplement has become one of my go-to sources for estrogen metabolism, because, it promotes the healthy excretion of estroogens and promotes gene communication at the receptor level, supporting a healthy balance of estrogens and adrogens. Furthermore, it supports healthy cervical and breast tissues in women.†
Few of us can wholly escape stress. I’m also of the mind that positive stress can be good for us—it furnishes us with the moxie and motivation to pursue our dreams, excel at work and provide for ourselves and our families. But negative stress—the type that harms our health and happiness—needs to be mitigated through natural and lifestyle choices. This is where magnesium comes in. Influencing nerve and muscle function, the mighty mineral supports normal muscle contraction and relaxation while also helping to maintain healthy blood pressure already within normal range.
You can think of magnesium as the additives in your fuel that keep your engine clean and running like a champ,” Gina Keatley—a C.D.N. practicing in New York City—says. “Magnesium is a part of energy production, is used as a structure for healthy bones, is a key element in glutathione, which is known as the master antioxidant, and even helps for normal heart rhythm and nerve impulses.” (Who doesn’t want to feel like a victor?)†
9. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K isn’t on most people’s radars—and that’s a shame, given that the essential group of compounds serves a fundamental task in terms of bone health. Specifically, I take vitamin K2 MK-7, which may naturally support arterial and cardiovascular health. Found in the fermented Japanese food natto, it's also said to organically reinforce dental health. And thank goodness for that—caring for my well-being, after all, gives me much to smile about.†
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.