Why Even Take Supplements?
As an Integrative and Functional Certified Practitioner, I have been trained to use specific professional grade supplements in my nutrition consulting. But, I haven’t always recommended them! In the beginning of my education as a dietitian, I was taught that we can get all of our nutrients from food and supplements were simply unnecessary. As I continued my education to focus on functional nutrition, I began to realize that this is a very simplified and misleading statement.
Here’s a dirty little secret about your diet and nutrient intake: the food you’re eating is depleted in essential vitamins and nutrients for optimal health and to support fertility. Soil depletion, which had been a worsening issue over the past 50 years, strips nutrients from the fruits and vegetables that wind up on your dinner table. According to research referenced by Courtney White (1), author of “Grass, Soil, Hope,” a study in Australia found that apples had lost 80 percent of their vitamin C between 1948 and 1991 due to soil depletion, and the vitamin A content of carrots had plummeted by 99 percent. Meanwhile, in a United Kingdom study cited by White, nearly all vegetables had seen copper reduced by 76 percent, calcium by 46 percent, iron by 27 percent, magnesium by 24 percent and potassium by 16 percent. The U.K. study covered the 50-year period from 1940 to 1990.
A 2005 study (2) goes as far as to declare that nutrient depletion harms soil quality and reduces crop yields and, therefore, threatens global food security and agricultural sustainability!
RDA Recommendations: Why They Aren’t Enough
According to the US National Research Council, Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are the levels of intake of essential nutrients that, on the basis of scientific knowledge, are judged by the Food and Nutrition Board to be adequate to meet the known nutrient needs of practically all healthy persons (3). Sounds good, right? The government is looking out for us and how to keep us healthy!
You may think that as long as you are getting the RDA for nutrients as outlined on the back of many nutrition labels that you’re set up for optimal health. Unfortunately, what this picture doesn’t tell you is that the vitamin and mineral RDA recommendations established for Americans are the amounts needed to stay alive and prevent disease. Yea… seriously.
Here at Let’s Get Real, RD I am not about helping people just get by living a life absent of disease. I work with kick-ass women who are looking for MORE than just to get by. The women I work with are dedicated to upgrading their whole-body health through diet and lifestyle in order to optimize fertility for a smoother, happier, and healthier pregnancy.
I mean come on, when your goal is to grow a tiny human inside of your own body, you’re not looking to just survive to get by… you’re looking to thrive! That is why I almost always recommend all of, or some of, the supplements below to build the right foundation for women to build the healthiest family unit possible.
Results Based Healthcare
Another main reason why I recommend supplements as part of my Functional Fertility programs is the undeniable results I get from using them in a therapeutic and individualized way. By diving deeper into someone’s unique fertility journey in my Three Pillar Approach, it’s not about guessing what someone needs anymore. I use targeted biochemical testing like the DUTCH test as well as a comprehensive five-page intake form to see what genetic, environmental, or dietary predispositions may put someone at risk for nutrient deficiencies or an increased need of a nutrient.
The Importance of Supplement Quality
Did you know that the supplement industry is only loosely regulated and can be a minefield of poor-quality product? On the other hand, high quality products make or break success in your health journey and support your wellness for years to come. So how’s a person supposed to navigate this tricky space and get to the good stuff?
Supplement quality is extremely important! Unfortunately, there are tons of instances where supplements contain harmful contaminants and don’t contain the good stuff that is claimed on the bottle! Many boast over promising health impacts and have no consistency from one bottle to another. Take a look around you and you will see that supplements are being sold everywhere!
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald shared an eye-opening story from the Wall Street Journal report that found “over 4,000 items for sale on Amazon.com that had been declared unsafe, were deceptively labeled or were banned by federal regulators. The WSJ even did a follow up story to show how easy it was for them to set up a test account selling items they pulled, literally, from dumpsters. These supplements are being sold as knock-off brands and can include anything from probiotics to that protein powder you use daily. Dr. Kara Firzgerald stated that, “any kind of nutritional supplement from Amazon third-party sellers should be well vetted.” To truly understand how to pick out quality supplement products on your own dime, please read her article going into detail about this topic here.
How do I keep track of quality and trusted supplement brands to recommend to you? I recommend all supplements from my online dispensary, Fullscript. Please view how Fullscript ensures quality supplements on their quality assurance page. In order to provide the best quality options to myself and therefore my clients, Fullscript has partnered with the best professional-grade supplement brands who follow cGMP standards.
Top Five Supplements
Below are my favorite go-to supplements that have been proven in the research to optimize fertility and support a healthy pregnancy. Always remember that these recommendations are not YOUR recommendations. When working with me in a functional fertility program, I recommend supplements based off of your unique genetics, predispositions, nutrient depletions, environmental exposures, medication use, and biochemical data.
*MegaSporeBiotic is formulated with nature in mind. Spores, derived from the word “seed,” are the most basic building block of a new cell.
Found naturally in our environment, spores are a robust and effective way of delivering probiotics. Once they reach the intestines, they go to work strengthening the immune system and protecting you from infection.
Additionally, traveling with MegaSporeBiotic is convenient, uncomplicated, and practical because it does not require refrigeration. If a probiotic is so fragile it requires refrigeration, how will it survive the high temperatures and acidity of the stomach? It won’t. MegaSporeBiotic survives and arrives at the site of colonization alive, so it can perform its probiotic function!
*For overall gut health plus fiber, I recommend Pure Encapsultations G.I. Fortify. The formula contains a blend of fibers, plus the amino acid L-Glutamine and other soothing agents for the gut, called demulcents. Triphala, which is great for anyone experiencing constipation (less than 1 solid bowel movement daily).
The product linked here is in capsule form which is easier to take, however, I do recommend the powder form if you aren’t bothered by a slightly “supplement” taste and thickened sludge.
*Vitamin D is a critical hormone in the body that is essential for hormone balance, immune function, and supports bone health. Vitamin D can be obtained in sufficient amounts through 15-20 minutes of sun exposure in summer months on fully exposed skin. Since many geographical locations have limited sun during most of the year, it is important to supplement.
I recommend to get your vitamin D tested via a simple blood test from your primary care physician at least yearly. If you don’t have access to a primary care physician, ask me about customized lab ordering.
Vitamin K is an important fat-soluble vitamin essential for circulatory health and normal bone mineralization. Several different forms of vitamin K exist, with the primary dietary form being vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, found primarily in green vegetables. Another form known as vitamin K2, or menaquinone, is found primarily in animal products such as meat or eggs, as well as in foods such as cheese and natto, a fermented soy product.
Vitamin K helps with Vitamin D absorption into the blood.
*B Complex Plus by Seeking Health provides eight B vitamins with active forms of folate, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and B6. The active form of folate, L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF), is included to help support an immediate metabolic response compared to synthetic folic acid, the form commonly found in other supplements. L-5-MTHF is especially useful for supporting neurological system requirements as it is the only form of folate that crosses the blood-brain barrier. The coenzyme forms of vitamin B12 (methylcobabalamin and adenosylcobalamin) used in this complex can be readily absorbed and used by the body, as these forms are actively involved in important B12-dependent enzyme reactions.*
Niacin assists in the normal functioning of the digestive system, skin, and nerves and is important for the conversion of food to energy. Niacin can also be useful when too much methylfolate is consumed as niacin binds methyl groups and also supports the normal breakdown of glutamate. Thiamine, also known as B1, plays a crucial role in metabolic reactions such as forming adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which every cell of the body uses for energy. Riboflavin is essential for healthy energy levels, supporting immune system function, and maintaining healthy hair, skin, and mucous membranes. P-5-P, or pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, is known as the active “coenzyme” form of vitamin B6 and is directly used in B6-dependent enzyme functions within the body. In fact, vitamin B6 and P-5-P are needed for the normal activity of more than 100 enzymes – mostly related to protein metabolism. Pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5, assists the other B vitamins in converting food into usable energy. It is also an essential part of the body’s ability to produce various enzymes, which act as the catalyst to numerous biochemical reactions in the body. Biotin supports healthy carbohydrate metabolism. It is also essential to healthy hair, skin and nail growth.*
- Contains active forms of B vitamins plus L-5-MTHF
- With natural shilajit extract to help support nutrient absorption and utilization
- May help support neurotransmitter production and a healthy nervous system
- May help support healthy liver function and metabolism
*Supports healthy development of the brain, eyes, and nervous and immune systems, providing 480 mg of DHA, exceeding the minimum recommendations (300 mg) of daily DHA intake.
A woman’s demand for DHA increases during pregnancy. DHA is essential for the proper development of infants and children, and offers mood and nerve support for mothers.*
Prenatal DHA is a convenient and effective way to ensure that mothers and their growing babies get enough of this vital nutrient every day. Surpassing all international standards for purity, freshness, and concentration, Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA provides the benefits of omega-3 fats without the risk of toxicity. Ideal for pregnant and nursing mothers, these unflavored soft gels are half the size of standard soft gels, and are perfect for the sensitive palates of pregnant women. Prenatal DHA provides the foundation for a healthy pregnancy.
AFFILIATE DISCLAIMER: This post may contain affiliate links which means, to no extra cost to you, I would make a small fee if you use them.
HEALTH DISCLAIMERS: *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only.
1. Courtney White. What Happened to the Essential Nutrients in Our Food? July 2014. Retrieved 2/11/2020. From https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/essential-nutrients-ze0z1407zcgp?pageid=2#PageContent2
2. Z. X. Tan, R. Lal, K. D. Wiebe. (2005). Global Soil Nutrient Depletion and Yield Reduction. Retrieved 2/11/2020. From https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/47105/PDF
3. National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on the Tenth Edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances. Recommended Dietary Allowances: 10th Edition. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. 2, Definition and Applications. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234926/
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