I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about supplements (a beauty from the inside out type of thing) for a long time. My initial idea was to write the post as a “let’s take a peek inside women’s medicine cabinets”. I had already had these conversations with friends — discussing which supplements we all take on a regular basis and why. I always found it fascinating to hear which vitamins/supplements/herbs etc. have helped other women feel their best, and I have often gotten great suggestions this way, to boot.
When I started to write this piece in earnest, I asked the ladies in my life to write down all the supplements they take regularly and what they take them for. Rather quickly, a theme emerged: adrenal fatigue. I can’t say I was surprised that these very busy — and very knowledgeable — women were taking an active role in supporting their adrenal glands; most of the supplements I take regularly are also directly or indirectly for adrenal health/support. Turns out my friends and I all had similar journeys that set us on this specific path to wellness.
Personally, I hit a physical, mental and emotional low about two years ago (more details below). My quest to get better led to the discovery that years of constant, intense stress had completely tapped out my adrenal glands. This, in turn, left me feeling completely tapped out. With guidance from a holistic health practitioner and other wellness professionals, I started taking supplements to support my adrenal glands — specifically to help my body better handle stress and to restore the essential minerals and nutrients that were depleted from years of self-care insufficient for my hectic lifestyle. Almost immediately, these supplements made an enormous difference in how I felt, day in and day out.
Never Heard of Adrenal Fatigue?
If you’ve never heard of adrenal fatigue, don’t worry. Go to a traditional doctor complaining about adrenal fatigue and she’ll likely tell you there is no such thing. Visit a holistic health practitioner or naturopath, however, and she will tell you adrenal fatigue is one of the most underdiagnosed conditions of the 21st century. Ask anyone you know who regularly sees a naturopath, and you may discover that s/he is already taking supplements to treat adrenal fatigue. The struggle, as they say, is real. And it is especially real for women.
In fact, it seems that adrenal fatigue is the bane of the modern woman’s existence. All the women I spoke to are busy working women and/or working mothers; the epitome of “I don’t know how she does it” females. If you are struggling to manage a career, family, self-care, etc., and often feel that the struggle is winning, this post may be especially valuable (and applicable) to you, too.
What Does Adrenal Fatigue Look Like? Feel Like?
Well, crappy. Like you can’t get out of bed in the morning. No, not like it’s hard to get out of bed…like it’s impossible. If you’ve ever been pregnant, it feels like first trimester exhaustion, but EVERY SINGLE DAY. Also, your patience is super-low and your stress level super-high. Constantly. You literally feel at your wit’s end, exasperated, all day long. Everyone and everything gets under your skin. Nothing brings excitement or joy. You can’t remember the last time you felt “energetic”. Then there’s the ennui. Nothing sounds like a good or fun idea. You literally don’t want to do anything.
There are physical manifestations as well. I notice most dramatically under my eyes. They become a particular blue bruise-tone that can only mean my body is trying to send me an urgent message. Even scarier was the hair loss that I’ve shared about before.
Working Out Rigorously?
If you work out rigorously, adrenal fatigue is something you may want to investigate further as well. We are told ad nauseum how beneficial exercise is for us — and it is! It has myriad physical benefits, and is a great way to manage stress. There is a catch-22, though. If you’re not taking proper care to replace all the minerals and nutrients that is expelled during all that physical exertion, you may soon find yourself with less energy rather than more, and/or start feeling like each workout is taking every last ounce of energy you have. If that’s been your post-workout experience lately, read on.
Below are lists of the supplements I and two of my friends take on a regular basis. For the sake of brevity, I did not include a supplement list for everyone I spoke to, but you’ll see the similarities between my, Shamara and Kim’s lists. Between the three of us, the supplements we take are a very good representation of all the women I spoke to. Now, none of us are doctors. This is in no way medical advice. This is women who have taken the time to educate themselves, sharing what has helped them feel their very best. If, after reading this, you feel you may also suffer from adrenal fatigue, I do urge you to find a naturopath with whom you can discuss adrenal fatigue, and who can help you construct an action plan to feel better asap.
Between meeting with holistic health counselor Carol Patti (who was introduced to me by Kim Knittel, see below), muscle testing with Diane Paxton and reading The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, MD, I’ve come up with a “program” that really works and helps me feels my best. I must add that eating a protein-rich breakfast, exercising and getting colonics have also improved my overall sense of wellbeing.
The results of following this program have been increased energy, patience, an infinitely easier time getting out of bed in the morning and a dramatic decrease in the amount of caffeine I need throughout the day.
I take one pill, three times a day, as per muscle testing. Diane Paxton used muscle testing to determine which probiotics my body best responded to, and once we found my body’s “favorite” probiotic strain (Bifidobacterium was the winner), we used muscle testing to determine optimal dosage. Muscle testing is a fairly simple practice often used by naturopaths, but it’s quite fascinating! Diane had me hold different types of probiotic pills in my hand, each type of probiotic by itself. Then, while I was holding each type, she pushed down on my arm as I tried to resist or push back. The more my arm was able to resist the pressure of her push, the better; i.e., that was the probiotic that would be best for my body, as it made my body stronger, not weaker.
Trader Joe’s Fish Oil EPA/DHA
If you end up purchasing any high-quality supplements, you’ll see they ain’t cheap. It was so nice, then, to find a high-quality, inexpensive supplement like this one. The fish oil in these supplements are micro distilled, as recommended in The Mood Cure. Molecular distillation reduces the toxins in fish oil to safe levels. This formula also has the right amount of EPA and DHA, and in the proper ratio. Fish oil has so many benefits! It is not only great for hair, skin and joints, but also very beneficial for the brain, mood and gut…all things I’m interested in optimizing.
I take CraveArrest for adrenal support; one in the morning on an empty stomach and one before lunch. I happened upon CraveArrest as a fluke — Designs for Health was highly recommended by Carol Patti, and when I looked at all their different formulas, Crave Arrest had a number of vitamins, minerals and herbs I was looking for, all in one supplement. In addition to negatively impacting my mood and energy level, adrenal fatigue also causes cravings in many people. I don’t get crazy cravings regularly, but my body very positively responds to the unique combination of ingredients in CraveArrest. It helps support my overall mood, energy, stress level, etc. CraveArrest is designed to promote an optimal balance of serotonin and dopamine in the body. Since the adrenal glands oversee the the regulation of serotonin and dopamine, compromised adrenal glands don’t do a great job at regulating these two important neurotransmitters. This imbalance leads to all sorts of unsavory effects: sleeplessness, anxiousness and, as the name implies, cravings. CraveArrest contains tyrosine and 5-HTP for anti-craving effects, as well as taurine and the adaptogenic herb Rhodiola to promote a healthy stress response.
This is also for adrenal support. I take one or two at bedtime. Sometimes I’ll take one in the morning if I feel I need it, but if I take it within an hour of drinking coffee the caffeine will cancel out its effects, so it’s often hard for me to get the timing just right in the craziness that is my morning. (as mentioned earlier, these supplements are pricey so I won’t take one at a sub-optimal time.) CatecholaCalm is designed to support healthy catecholamine levels with adaptogenic herbs and nutrients that help mood and promote calmness and relaxation. CatecholaCalm addresses adrenal gland health; I find it helps me handle stress more effectively and to slow down my brain when I feel on overdrive. CatecholaCalm was specifically designed for “burned-out”, anxious people like me, suffering from a combination of low cortisol and elevated catecholamines. Catecholamines are also regulated by the adrenal glands…you don’t need to know what they are, but know that when they are out of whack, it’s not good. CathecolaCalm has given me more restful sleep, and I find it is especially beneficial when I’m PMSing.
Phylia de M. Fulphyl
I add Fulphyl to my smoothies for immune support and overall wellbeing — as needed and especially at change of seasons. This stuff is quite expensive, but totally worth it…as are all Phylia de M. products. Because it is so pricey, I am stingier with it than I probably should be. But I digress. So what the heck is Fulphyl and what does it do? Fulphyl is a humic-free fulvic acid supplement in liquid form. It has more benefits than I can list here, but it basically does it all. I’m sure you’ve noticed all the buzz of late over the benefits of fermented foods. Fulphyl contains fulvic acid produced from the fermentation of organic fruits and vegetables. Fulphyl not only detoxifies the body, but also optimizes your body’s ability to use the nutrients you consume. Fulvic acid removes harmful toxins and free radicals and encourages cell health and regeneration. This is a true “beauty from the inside out” superstar that everyone can benefit from using.
I take this for back/shoulder pain, as needed. I hate the idea of taking Aleve on a regular basis, but my long-term, chronic back pain can flair up for a stretch of time. Endorphigen truly helps with my back pain – it’s remarkable! I take it in the morning on an empty stomach and then again at night.
Shamara Bondaroff - Facialist, SB Skin Holistic Skin Care
I’ve known Shamara since junior high school. She was raised in a holistic, health-conscious household, and she and her whole family frequented the late, great Dr. Martin Feldman. Dr. Feldman provided her with a supplement program that was suited for her needs and gave her the tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle, avoiding pharmaceuticals.
She knows what it takes to feel – and look! – your very best, which is what makes her an amazing facialist and skin care expert.
E3 LIVE Blue-green algae superfood for focus and a dose of nutrients; taken first thing in the AM with probiotic (below).
Pure Encapsulations Probiotic 50B Probiotic taken first thing in AM.
Pure Encapsulations Women’s Pure Pack Essential nutrients tailored for women, taken after breakfast.
Twin Lab Hair Factors Add-on vitamins for skin & hair.
Flora Vegetal Silica Also for skin and hair.
Thorne Research Phytisone Taken for adrenal support.
E3 Live Enzymes Supreme Digestive enzymes (when I remember) before each meal.
Kim is an old and very dear friend. I respect – and cherish – her deeply. She’s a mom first and foremost; an older mom of young kids, with a strong interest in nutrition and food as medicine. She consulted with a nutritionist named Trudy Scott for most of the supplements she takes, and a naturopath named Shaina Orfus, for others, especially after she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. Trudy’s website – a great resource – is www.everywomanover29.com. Here is Kim’s very well-researched list of supplements:
Selenocysteine (selenium) – 200 mcg for thyroid health.
L Tyrosine – 2.4g twice a day for energy and focus.
L-Glutamine – Twice a day to curb sugar cravings and to heal the gut.
D-Phenylalanine – 1000 mg twice a day, for elevation of mood and to combat stress.
Ashwaganda – 350 mg twice a day, for thyroid health.
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) – 500 mg per day, for premature greying, a sign of B5 deficiency.
Vitamin D3 – (1) 10,000 iu pill every few days, for immune function, thyroid health and many other body functions.
Opti-Zinc 30 – 30 mg per day, for immune function and thyroid health.
Methyl Guard Plus or Active B Complex – 100 mg B6 and 2 mg B12 among others 2 – 4 times daily.
Ascorbyl Palmitate – Fat Soluble Vitamin C 450mg per day.
What supplements do you take every day? For what? Share in the comments, below!
By: Claire McCormack, Twitter & Instagram: @clairemcmack