Today I will give you a look into my cupboards and fridge to show you what my family actually uses. Although we actually take fairly few supplements, here is the low down on what we do use. I rooted through my kitchen yesterday to take pictures to show you a good sampling of what we have around here, and I've tried (without making this post exceedingly long) to explain what we use them for/ why we choose them, etc.
My three top supplements, for me personally (not necessarily my whole family).
Cod Liver Oil– to ensure that we are getting sufficient Omega 3 fatty acids, of which fish oils are possible the best source. CLO also contains high levels of Vitamins D and A, fat-soluble vitamins that are often deficient in our diets. Vitamin D is particularly important in the winter or if you live in a place with limited sunshine for much or part of the year.
There is more and more research being done that is showing that Vitamin D is an absolutely essential nutrient, and may be important in cancer prevention.
My children and I take CLO almost daily (except when I forget), and I am in the process of convincing my husband that it doesn't taste all that bad (the one I buy is emulsified with a mint flavor, so it's really quite easy to take, in my opinion). I will probably switch us over to a different kind of fish oil (like salmon) now that summer is coming soon, as I don't want to risk having our Vitamin D levels too high when we are playing out in the sun much more often.
Floradix Liquid Iron– This is one that only I take, and only in particular seasons when I need it. I used a couple bottles of it during my last pregnancy, and am going to get another bottle this week as my Naturopath recently tested my iron and found it to be on the low side, probably as a result of giving birth and nursing this past year. This is the best iron supplement I have ever taken and everyone I know who has tried it raves about it. It is a bit pricey, but worth every penny if you are truly low on iron. You will feel it's effects in a few days usually! Although it is possible to get iron through food sources, many women just do not eat enough iron-rich foods to keep their levels high enough during their child-bearing years, which is why supplementation is useful.
Liquid Calcium and Magnesium– Again, this is one that only I take, and simply because child-bearing and nursing takes so much calcium out of you that it is important to stay on top of it during these young years, rather than when I am older and it is already too late. I don't take this all the time, but like to buy it when I'm able to (however, raw milk, fish bones as in canned salmon, greens and bone broth are great ways to naturally boost calcium!).
Green supplements (sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this one!)– . Our family has taken many different kinds such as Chlorophyl, Spirulina, Barley Green, Wheat Grass, Greens Plus, etc. We don't do it all the time, but it's nice to get extra greens in when we can. Most of us don't eat as many greens as we should, and greens help our bodies to detoxify which is so important these days. However, there are also many great way to get actual greens in us (in addition to just salads, you can add them in casseroles, in smoothies, etc.) which is far better if we can do it that way– cheaper, too!
Here are a few of the supplements that we have used at particular times, for short seasons such as my recent Candida cleanse and for helping to heal my son's eczema.
From left to right, L-Glutamine (helps to heal up the gut, minimizing food sensitivities that are caused by things like Candida), a homeopathic remedy for my Caden's eczema, an anti-Candida supplement my husband used (it is very difficult to properly deal with Candida without the use of supplements, but that's an entirely other topic for another day), and the Ness flora balance is an enzyme/pro-biotic supplement for Caden as well, reducing the effects of the Candida he received through me.
Pro-Biotics– (Sorry, no pictures of this as there's none in my house right now) We have all, at some point or another, used a pro-biotic such as acidophilus or ultra-bifidus in order to promote healthy gut bacteria. This is really helpful when dealing with Candida yeast issues, and also crucial if you have taken any anti-biotics (which we avoid like the plague!). Yogurt, kefir and other fermented dairy products certainly help by providing us with good bacteria, but the quantity of bacteria in yogurt simply cannot compare to the amount in a pro-biotic supplement, which is so helpful when you are dealing with something like Candida, or boosting your system if you have had to take an anti-biotic.
As well, my husband also took untold amounts of supplements during his cancer treatments, in our attempts to boost his immune system, up his antioxidants, combat effects of the chemo drugs, and just to give him more energy and increase his bodies ability to fight in general. This was specifically helpful because the chemo affected his appetite and his taste buds, which severely affected his ability to eat good foods.
We also use supplements when we are ill or fighting a cold or flu bug, to speed up our recovery and to avoid having to use conventional medications. These would include Vitamin C, zinc, Oil of Oregano, Colloidal Silver, homeopathics, etc.
And just for fun, a picture of some cheapie, pretty-much-worthless supplements left hanging around in our cupboard, that need to just be thrown out. The Now brand minerals actually aren't too bad, but in general, multi formulas are just not well digested and assimilated, and I didn't feel any real difference when I used these to help boost my calcium/magnesium sometime last year. I'm sticking to my liquid!
This is a new purchase, just last week from my co-op, Azure. It is raw cow's milk colostrum. Just as human mother's milk is absolutely full of crucial healthy bacteria and immune boosting qualities in the early days, so is the milk that a mother cow gives to her calves. People have used it as an immune booster all over the world, and it is starting to grow in acceptance and popularity. We purchased some fresh from our local cow share this winter to help boost my husband's immunity from the chemotherapy.
When I saw this in the catalog at Azure, I just had to try it! It is watered down, more to the consistency of milk and can be drank just like milk. My only complaint is that because it's frozen, it's just not the same as it would be fresh, texture-wise. It's great in smoothies, though and just a nice way to give us all a little boost once in a while! I love this because it's really just a whole food, that happens to have some great health-boosting properties!
I think I also mentioned that we occasionally use homeopathics. This really blurry picture (sorry!) is an example of that. These are natural, dissolving teething tablets that really work to take the edge off of baby's teething, without resorting to pain-relieving drugs. I try to use these as much as possible in place of Motrin, etc.
We have also used homeopathic tablets (more like small pellets, that dissolve under your tongue) for a recent fever that Caden had (he wouldn't nurse for nearly a day, so we really needed to break the fever), and they also worked like a charm for taking the edge off of my nausea during my last pregnancy! These are not things that we would use daily, but you can see how they are a useful addition and can help us maintain our health and even our sanity comfort without having to resort to conventional medication.
You might be looking at all of these pictures thinking, "She spends a fortune on supplements!"
The fact is, this past year has brought a lot of health challenges for us.
First, my husband's cancer and chemotherapy (which completely depleted his nutrient stores and immune function), and for me, giving birth, nursing, and dealing with Candida issues, and then the effects of the Candida on my nursing baby and his subsequent food sensitivities and eczema issues. As well, the stress has resulted in just a general level of fatigue and lower immunity for my husband and I, so we have needed to be more free in our willingness to purchase what we needed to get back better health.
In general, we would not normally even have so many supplements around nor would we spend so much on them. We might have some superfoods (ie. green foods, colostrum) and fish oil, and maybe the odd other thing, plus some natural products that we use for medicinal purposes (homeopathics, oil of oregano), and that would be it.
For me the bottom line is that I try to keep it as minimal as possible, but I am also no longer opposed to the use of supplements now that I see their purposefulness.I truly believe that you can primarily improve your health through diet (the removal of negative foods, and the addition of positive, healthful foods).I also believe that supplements can be a useful tool to add to the efficacy of what we are already doing.
I am not in favor of a heavy reliance on them, and I do believe that many supplement companies are unfortunately promoting their products as a bit of a panacea, in an effort to sell us more that we don't truly need. It can be difficult to see through the hype and tell the difference, but I highly recommend that you do as much of your own research as possible and don't allow these companies to tell you what they think you absolutely must have.
I'd love to hear your views on supplements and which ones you or your family uses!