29 Aug 2019

MY FAVE VEGAN SUPPLEMENTS


Today I am giving my own personal response to the age-old vegan question, "Should we take supplements, or nah?" In short, my answer is: it depends, but probably. Read on for the longer version. 

I have been through many phases in my nearly 10-year vegan journey. They've all been pretty public because, hey, this blog. So, you might know that for many years, as I tried to stay all raw, I decided supplements were unnatural and unnecessary. I convinced myself that if food was cooked or processed--and this included supplements--then my body didn't want it. I had also come to believe that I could and should get all my nutrition from whole foods; so supplements weren't required if I was doing veganism right. RIGHT!?

Well, spoiler alert: this was in fact a full-on eating disorder that I was in denial of for a decade. I will be writing more on this in future posts.

Fast forward: I have since thankfully come round to a more reasonable position on the subject of food in general and supplementation in particular. I have found the power of intuitive eating, mindfulness, body-acceptance and self-compassion. I will probably always be vegan (because that decision is political for me) but beyond that, I eat whatever the heck I want now. Maybe it'll be a smoothie, maybe it'll be chips. Maybe it'll be a salad, maybe it'll be pasta. Maybe it'll be dates and almond butter, maybe it'll be chocolate cake. What I eat at any given time depends on how I am feeling and what my body is telling me it needs. Because my body is smart and I actually pay attention to it now, my diet these days ends up being nourishing, satisfying, balanced and vibrant. 

Having said all this, whether it was during my hard core raw vegan days of the past, or my intuitive eating days now: I don't always hit my RDIs (recommended daily intakes) for every nutrient, vitamin and mineral. I'm not a super human. I don't eat the same things everyday, I don't do the same things everyday; so what by body needs and what it's getting vary. In addition to being vegan, I am a 25 year old person with a uterus who bleeds every month, and I live in a pretty rainy part of the world. I additionally deal with anxiety and depression. We have to consider these factors before approaching supplements. What's your age? What are the specific conditions of your body? What's your diet high or low in, because of sensitivities or restrictions? How's your mood? What's the sun exposure of the geographic zone you live in? Do you donate blood regularly? 

This is why the supplements we each take depend on who, when, what, and where we are.

An important tip for figuring out what supplements to take or not take is to get your blood checked! It's a pretty obvious point, but I feel it needs to be said. In the 'wellness' world, there is a lot of hype about foods that are super high in This Vitamin and That Vitamin. That's all fine, but we don't need to worry about that if our blood work tells us we are already getting enough of This Vitamin and That Vitamin. 

Finally, I will say that supplements will not solve all your problems. Brands might hint that taking that making their adaptogenic mix every morning will turn your life into a Magical Sexy Success World, but let's be realistic. Ultimately, 'wellness' needs to be understood as a holistic, personal, dynamic practice. You will not find wellness in an adaptogenic latte. Wellness is found in the practices of self-compassion, mindfulness, acceptance, and non-judgement. If you're not doing the work of learning to be gentle with yourself, and honouring your body's, mind's, and spirit's needs: supplements will only take you so far. They are but a slice in the pie of self-care. In addition to taking daily supplements, I meditate regularly, take medication for my anxiety and depression, stretch often for my chronic back pain, and literally organize my life around my personal needs (ex. social time, solo time, work time, rest time...) I recognize these needs change, and that's OK too! 

Now, let's get into my fave supplements. Not everyone needs to take these, so know your own particular needs before filling up your shopping cart. QUESTION: Do you take supplements? Why or why not? 

xo,
em


IRON
Because I get my blood checked every 6 months, I know that over the past year I've become low in iron. This is probably because I am vegan, and bleed every month. So, I take an iron supplement. The one I am currently using is from Thorne Research. Note: for vegans, we have to take non-heme iron. Heme iron is from animal sources. (Keep in mind heme iron is often better-absorbed, so that's your decision to make.) The most absorbable forms of non-heme iron are ferrous iron and carbonyl iron. Remember to take vitamin C with your iron supplement! It helps with absorbency. 

PROBIOTICS
I just started taking a beautiful probiotic from Seed and I looove it! The company is totally rad and their product is of an unparalleled quality. I deal with anxiety, so my digestive system needs all the help it can get. The body is complex, y'all, and adding an extra boost in the form of healthful live microorganisms can benefit your whole system. 

MARINE PHYTOPLANKTON
The greens of the sea are powerful: they're rich in nutrients and gentle on the earth to harvest. You don't need much to feel the positive effects. I take a small capsule from Marphyl everyday. The small company is totally vegan and very focused on the environmental and ethical aspects of their products. They also make delicious sea salts, and a soil enhancer that I water my plants with.

VITAMIN D
I do not take vitamin D every day, because our summers in the Pacific Northwest are nice and sunny. The rest of the year, capsules it is! Well Told Health makes a whole-foods based supplement from mushrooms that I take when I need to. The company is all organic and vegan. (But there are cheaper varieties out there that work just as well, I'm sure.) Note: most folks in rainy/cloudy regions are vitamin D deficient, so go get your blood checked! 

TURMERIC
Turmeric is a powerhouse of antioxidants. I take a turmeric powder capsule from Well Told Health everyday. (But there are cheaper varieties out there that work just as well, I'm sure.) Remember to take your turmeric with black pepper to increase absorbency! If you like lattes, I would recommend trying out this Golden Milk from Super Good, the product already contains black pepper so you save a step. 

MUSHROOMS
Oh, how I adore shroomies. (I do occasionally micro-dose with psychedelic mushrooms, but here I am just recommending the non-trippy kind.) Mushrooms are adaptogenic and thus help with how your brain functions. Two of my favourites are Lion's Mane and Cordyceps. Other popular and powerful varieties include Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, and Shiitake. Currently I am taking a tincture from rainbo that has 11 different shrooms infused into it; and capsules from Purica. I also looove the 14 Mushroom blend from Harmonic Arts for lattes, chocolate and smoothies. They make a 14 Mushroom tincture as well. I prefer tinctures these days because they're easier to add to consume. Shrooms help my mood big time, and keep me motivated and energized.

LEMON BALM 
I take a lemon balm tincture to help me sleep, it makes me feel relaxed and ready for bed on nights when I don't get as much down time. Lemon balm also helps with general relaxation in case you're feeling stressed. The one I use is from Gaia Garden; I'm sure other brands will work just as well.

MULTI-VITAMIN
Lastly, I take a multi-vitamin to cover all my bases. Some days I don't feel like eating vegetables. Some days I don't feel like eating whole grains. Some days I don't feel like eating berries. Some days I don't feel like making my superfood smoothies. To balance those days, a multi comes in handy. I used to spend way more money on fancy multi-vitamins, but honestly, the basic one from Costco works just fine. A multi is not necessary for everyone, and tbh I might not even need to take it. But I sleep better knowing I am playing it safe and meeting all my RDIs, regardless of what I ate or didn't eat that day.


P.S. I have not been paid by any of the companies featured in this post. This not sponsored content. 


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