We need to talk about supplements, the clean detox movement, and women’s health. When she was younger, Cassandra can remember being obsessed with taking supplements. Even though Cassandra has always been interested in medicine, Cassandra used to believe that natural was better and would take massive amounts of supplements. She had a garlic supplement, a caffeine pill that was supposed to stimulate metabolism, and she even had an aloe vera supplement. She also used to take women’s multivitamins amongst others. She can still remember the extra large pill case used to fit everything.
Is it good to take supplements?
Because supplements are largely unregulated, taking too many can actually cause more harm than help. For example, aloe vera is a laxative, and obviously, you don’t need to be taking a laxative unless you’re constipated. On top of that, because Cassandra was taking a caffeine metabolism-boosting supplement, she didn't realize how it contributed to her anxiety.
Naturally, this seems hard to believe because we think to ourselves, “Well, how could this be if it’s sold in stores? It has to be safe.” However, as mentioned before, supplements are often unregulated.
Unlike drugs, which must be proven safe and effective for their intended use before marketing, there are no provisions in the law for the FDA to approve dietary supplements for safety before they reach the consumer (FDA, 2023).
Likewise, supplements can be helpful, but it’s much more important to take supplementation in food. Did you know that food has actual medicinal benefits? Take matcha for example.
Matcha is fantastic because it has a small amount of caffeine, and it’s full of antioxidants. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals from the body cells and prevent or reduce the damage caused by oxidation.
Matcha has also been traditionally used in Japan for thousands of years, and this is the Matcha that Cassandra normally uses.
She likes to get most of her nutrients from her diet, but as far as the supplements she takes, she only takes 2 to 3 now. Cassandra chooses these supplements based on her blood work. Cassandra is also vegan, and she takes a vitamin D and B12 supplement. And sometimes, she'll take an iron supplement.
What does vitamin B12 do?
This supplement contains methyl B12, which is the bioavailable version of a compound. Bioavailable means your body can absorb it without having to turn it into something else. More simply, the body absorbs it very easily.
What does iron do?
Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. It also uses iron to make myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles. Your body also needs iron to make some hormones.
Cassandra’s iron levels are usually fine, but she has a duplicated reproductive system, and her periods are really heavy. At the end of her cycle, she can be borderline anemic. So, during that time of the month, Cassandra does take an iron supplement.
This has vitamin B12 as well, and in addition to iron, it actually contains 144% of your daily recommended dose. So, if she takes this one, she doesn’t take the Jarrow formula. This also includes vitamin C and folate which can help iron to be absorbed. If you drink a lot of coffee like Cassandra, this could also be helpful. Few people know this, but drinking a lot of coffee or caffeine can inhibit, prevent, or slow down the absorption of iron into your GI. So, if you drink a lot of coffee, you might not be absorbing iron-rich food to its maximum potential.
Iron is also important for hair growth, and since Cassandra has struggled with hair loss, she used to take a supplement for that too. She took the REVIVE DHT Blocker Formula.
The sex hormones that we have in our bodies can impact hair loss. These types of supplements claim to keep DHT from binding to receptors on your hair follicles, and likewise, it’s supposed to keep them from shrinking. But, Cassandra doesn’t feel the need to take these anymore. Whereas before, she would be anxious if she even missed a day.
She only takes 2 to 3 supplements now, but as Cassandra looks back, she sees that she did have an unhealthy relationship with supplements.
Now, she simply takes B12 and vitamin D daily.
What does vitamin D do?
According to Harvard.edu, it is a fat-soluble vitamin that has long been known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus; both are critical for building bone. It can also control infection and reduce inflammation.
There is a receptor for vitamin D on every single cell in your body, and it is essential. At one point, Cassandra was prescribed vitamin D. Her vitamin D levels weren't super low, but they were getting there. Hyperthyroidism or low thyroid runs in Cassandra’s family, and while she was in the normal range, she was on the low end. Sometimes, hyperthyroidism can be linked to low vitamin D, and vitamin D is something that Cassandra’s doctor specifically recommended. So now, she takes this one.
This Vitamin D supplement is phenomenal. It’s from Ritual. It also contains magnesium, folate, a little bit of iron, and fatty acids. You can take this every day, and Cassandra loves how it's a mint flavor.
How many supplements are too much?
As mentioned before, Cassandra used to obsess about supplements, and if she forgot to take one, she would become anxious. It wasn't that she needed them though. Cassandra describes how taking supplements became a habit for managing anxieties about health. And as Cassandra looks back, she wonders if she had orthorexia. Orthorexia is an obsession with being healthy. This is not in the DSM-5 (criteria for diagnosis), but we’re constantly learning more about mental health and the way consciousness interacts with the brain as an organ.
To sort out experiences like this, Cassandra also talks with a mental health professional from BetterHelp. Based on your needs, BetterHelp matches you with mental health professionals. Their job is to help you process things and give you the tools to manage your mental health.
If you’re struggling, consider therapy with, our sponsor, BetterHelp. Click https://betterhelp.com/cassandrabankson for a 10% discount on your first month of therapy with a licensed professional specific to your needs.
Also, remember to turn and learn your ingredients, figure out what works for your individual needs, and speak with a professional to achieve what’s optimal.