Ever since I was a little girl, I have taken vitamins. I remember being about 5 years old or so and getting really excited when I found a red or purple Fred Flintstone vitamin in the bottle—I always thought those were the best flavors. As I got older I started taking other supplements, like a B-complex and multivitamin. And of course, getting a cold meant extra chewable vitamin C.
Fast forward a few decades, and I’m still a huge fan of vitamins, minerals, and other natural supplements. Back in the mid-90s I worked as a customer service representative at a local vitamin company and I felt like a kid in a candy store. The great thing about the company was that they encouraged everyone to read up on and learn about what we were selling, and so I did a lot of research on everything from garlic to flaxseed oil and selenium to vitamin E.
For me, here’s what it boils down to: I feel better when I take my vitamins. I have plenty of days where I forget to take them, or end up taking just one or two. But on those days, I do notice a difference in my energy level and overall health. I’ve had more than one vitamin non-believer friend tell me that it must be a placebo effect and that I have “expensive urine” but you know what? I don’t think that’s true. And the dozens of books and articles I’ve read about supplements and the scores of scientific studies too all back up my theory that supplements can be very helpful to our health.
Below is my Top 10 list of what I feel are the best natural supplements for me to take. If you’d like to try some or all of them too that’s fine with me, but please know that I’m not a physician, nor do I play one on TV. So if you do want to give some of these a try, please run them past your doctor first, just to be on the safe side.
1—Garlic— Numerous studies have shown how this herb can help ward off colds and flus, which is certainly more important than ever right now with the H1N1 flu going around, and the seasonal flu coming up next. I buy a brand that contains alfalfa too, which works as a natural deodorizer.
2—Vitamin B-complex—Every single one of the B-vitamins, from B1 to B6 and B12 and the rest, are all extremely important for our overall health. I like to take a B-50 complex vitamin that contains all of the common “numbered” Bs as well as the other relatives of the large vitamin family like biotin, PABA, etc. A water soluble group of vitamins, your body will eliminate what it does not use through the urine.
3—Ester C—Linus Pauling was right—this antioxidant vitamin has been found to do some amazing stuff for our health. When I worked at the vitamin company I found out about the esterfied version of vitamin C and now I won’t take any other form. Anyone who has taken extra vitamin C for a cold probably knows that it isn’t always super friendly on the intestines in large amounts. But Ester-C has a neutral pH, so it’s extremely mild. Plus it has been shown to stay in your body longer than traditional C, so you can take less of it.
4—Flaxseed Oil—Again, I’m not a doctor, or for that matter a nutritionist. But in my personal opinion, if you have the time or money to take just one supplement, consider flaxseed oil to be “The One”. You’ve probably read how fish oil is good for us—that is because fish contain something called omega-3, which is an essential fatty acid. There are also EFAs called omega-6 and even omega-9. Flaxseed oil is the world’s richest source of omega-3. Since our bodies cannot make EFAs on our own, we have to get them from our diets, and believe me when I tell you that the average American diet is sorely lacking in EFAs. This lack of EFAs has been linked to all sorts of health problems ranging from skin conditions to heart issues to depression. Conversely, taking an EFA-rich supplement like flaxseed oil has been found to help with a variety of health issues, including psoriasis and even cancer. I prefer to take flaxseed oil with lignans, which has been shown in studies to be extremely helpful for overall breast health, in addition to everything else flaxseed oil may do. I like the capsule form, but you can also buy liquid oil or even ground, fortified flaxseed.
5—Vitamin D3—Talk about the new kid on the block of supplements—vitamin D3 is rapidly rising in popularity and from what I’ve read, for good reason. Last year when I went in for my annual exam my doctor advised me to take vitamin D3 because it has been found to help our health in so many ways. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had many doctors advise me to take natural remedies over the years so when she told me to take it, I was impressed. The latest I’ve read is that it can help ward off colds and flus by strengthening our immune system. I’ve also heard anecdotal reports that it can increase our energy levels.