I’ve written before about whether or not people need supplements here. And you can see which supplements I personally take in this blog post. All in all, though, I do think there are a few things people should be taking in general on their Paleo diet (or I guess with any diet), and those are…
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3’s
Vitamin D (D3 – not D2) is important for maintaining the tight junctions in your gut (so you don’t get leaky gut), for the proper formation of bones, for proper absorption of calcium, and for neuromuscular health. A deficiency in vitamin D has been associated with multiple sclerosis, and it’s been shown to be anti-viral. We synthesize it via our skin from the sun, but it’s also found in small amounts in cod liver oil, organ meats, certain fish, and egg yolks.
The only person I know who naturally has good levels of vitamin D is my beautiful mother, who moved to Florida for the sole purpose of sitting in the sun by a pool most days. Here she is. She’s tan like this all the time. (Sorry, Mom – had to do it!)
Every other person I’ve ever tested or talked to about their vitamin D results has been deficient, including myself. AND including my mom’s sister, who lives right next door to my mom in sunny Florida but does not spend much time by the pool.
So, of course it’s best to get yourself tested to see if for some reason you’re high in vitamin D somehow, but if you live in modern society and spend most of your time indoors, and/or you live anywhere near the northern hemisphere, you should probably be taking vitamin D.
We all know that omega 3 fatty acids are responsible for fighting inflammation in the body, and that means all inflammation – heart disease, joint pain, and immune health in general. They’re also a major component of brain health.
The omega 3 fatty acids you get from flax and other plants (ALA) don’t really convert well to the kinds of omega 3s you actually want in your body, namely EPA and DHA. In fact, according to this study, ALA only converts about 6% to EPA and DHA, the major players in brain health and anti-inflammation. So it’s really important that you get your omega 3s in the form of fatty fish. If you eat 2-3 servings of it every week, you should be fine, but most people don’t do that because we don’t like stinky fish much in this culture (myself included).
So a good supplement is in order for people who don’t like to eat salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and other foods high in EPA and DHA. And I’m not talking about the crappy canned tuna that’s not packed in its own oil. The only company I know of that does that is Wild Planet, by the way.
Probiotics are the little good bacteria in your gut that help you digest food, create and activate B vitamins and vitamin K, breakdown complex lipids and cholesterol, and strengthen your immune system. This study says that an imbalance of probiotics in the gut is associated with everything from leaky gut to type 2 diabetes. And then there’s the whole brain-gut axis to think about, which could affect autism and other behavioral disorders, like depression and anxiety. So probiotics are kind of a big deal.
If you were to have eaten a healthy (Paleo-ish) diet all your life, after being breast fed by a healthy mother for at least the first year of your life, then you might not need to supplement with a probiotic. But since so many of us have destroyed our guts with our poor diets for most of our lives, we kind of need to get our good bacteria back in order.
Probiotics are created by fermenting foods generally, so you can certainly get a good dose of them from your homemade sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, I’ve been making coconut yogurt :), kimchi, or other fermented foods. But if you buy those things in the store, they’re pasteurized, unless it says on the bottle “raw” or “unpasteurized”, meaning the good bacteria go bye-bye. So for a lot of us, a probiotic is in order.
So what’s a good source for all of these things?
As a nutritionist I have access to really, really good supplement companies. And so would you if you went to a nutritionist and bought them from him or her. But most people don’t want to go to a nutritionist or a naturopath to get supplements – you want to buy high quality stuff online or in a health food store.
I trust the quality of Mark Sisson’s products. There’s no extra, nasty ingredients in these supplements, unlike a lot of other stuff out there. The fish oil concentration per pill is decent, and you could get away with taking 1 or 2 a day instead of 3. The vitamin D is at a good maintenance level of 2,000 iu per capsule, which is what I suggest to people, instead of the mega doses of 10,000 iu. And the probiotics are pretty potent. I always say to go for around 10 billion organisms, and this product has about 30 billion per capsule.
Check it out if you’re looking for a good, overarching supplement regimen. He even does an auto-ship deal for you so you don’t have to think about ordering them ever again after your first purchase.
Anyone have any experience with these products?
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