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There is a supplement for just about everything these days. It can be totally overwhelming for the health-conscious consumer to know which supplements she needs and which she doesn’t. I have a ‘food first’ philosophy when it comes to nutrition, meaning that I believe we should be focusing on eating a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, real food diet first and foremost. From there, we can use supplements to supplement our healthy eating plan.
Due to soil depletion from conventional farming methods, gut issues, high-stress lifestyles and toxic environments, it can be difficult to get the necessary nutrients we need for optimal health from food alone. In this post, I talked about the foundational supplements I recommend as a good starting place for nearly everyone. From there, you can add additional supplements based on your specific needs and health goals.
For example, I recommend almost all my clients take a high quality collagen supplement to support their gut, joints, hair, skin and nails, as well as to maintain connective tissue structure and function; my favorite is Vital Proteins.
The folks at Vital Proteins offer three additional supplements that are formulated to enhance everything affected by collagen–from hair, skin and nails to gut and joint health. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of each.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green microalgae, or tiny seaweed, found in tropical and subtropical freshwater lakes. It’s a vegan superfood rich in protein, fat, vitamins and minerals–specifically providing a good source of B vitamins, iron, vitamin A and K. By dry weight, spirulina is around 60% protein and contains all nine essential amino acids making it a natural source of complete plant-based protein. Because spirulina doesn’t contain cellulose walls, it is very easy to digest and absorb, so it’s a great source of protein for those who have trouble digesting meat or have leaky gut syndrome. Spirulina also contains chlorophyll, the substance responsible for its vibrant blue-green color, which is a potent antioxidant. I recommend spirulina for clients who need detoxification support, who are blemish-prone and who want to boost energy.
Spirulina comes dried in capsule or powder form. I add spirulina powder to my smoothies a few days a week. If you’re not a smoothie drinker or the seaweed-y taste is too much for you, you can take spirulina as a capsule. I suggest being careful about responsible sourcing of spirulina, as some may be contaminated with toxins called microcystins and heavy metals. Look for spirulina from Hawaii or California, such as the one from Vital Proteins.
Organ meat is the ultimate real food multivitamin. Liver, kidney, heart, etc. are powerhouse superfoods that have been consumed throughout history, but have been lost as part of the diet in Western society. Liver is a great source of protein and contains many important nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E, K and B vitamins, as well as minerals such as zinc, copper and iron. I recommend liver to clients with nutritional deficiencies, those looking to increase energy, as well as to women who want to optimize fertility, as it contains nutrients that improve egg quality and it’s one of the best sources of natural folate and vitamin A.
You might be wondering… if liver is a detoxifying organ, does eating liver mean that you’re ingesting the toxins of the animal? Thankfully, the answer is no because the liver does not store toxins. Toxins are cleared out of the liver and excreted by the digestive system. That said, I still recommend organic, grass-fed liver. If you’re keen to give it a go, beef liver pate is actually pretty delicious! If you can’t fathom tucking into a plate of liver, you can take it in a whole-food supplement form. Vital Proteins Beef Liver supplements use liver from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows from New Zealand, so it’s a source you can trust.
Vital Proteins Beauty Boost is a great vegan supplement for those looking to support youthful skin, lustrous hair and stronger nails. It contains vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins (with a big dose of biotin), selenium and silica. The stand out beauty players are biotin and vitamin C. Biotin is a well-known vitamin to support healthy hair, skin and nails. Deficiency can show up as thinning hair, brittle nails and dry, cracked skin. Best food sources of biotin include liver (there it is again!), eggs, salmon and avocado, and supplementation can be helpful in treating weak hair and nails. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in your body’s natural production of collagen.
If you’re looking for a supplement to support healthier hair, skin and nails, Beauty Boost is a great option as the nutrients are sourced from organic fruits and vegetables, such as amla berry and lemon peel. If you’re already taking a B Complex vitamin, I recommend choosing one or the other as taking both would be doubling up on the Bs.
Photos by Stephanie Pollard