You have spoken and I have listened!
Many of you are interested in learning more about vitamins and supplements: What supplements do I take? What supplements don’t I take? Which of those supplements are for general health and wellness? Which are for mold and environmental illness specifically?
And, the question that I get in some form or another at least once per week:
“Is it NECESSARY to take supplements to fully recover from mold illness?”
Many people are confused, because they think that if they get out of the mold and treat their body, their health will return. The cause of their sickness has been eliminated, so why isn’t that enough?
Today I am going to do my best to answer that question. I am going to tackle WHY I think it is necessary to take supplements and which supplements make up the basis of my own daily regimen, now that I have recovered my health. I hope to follow this post with some more detail on a Wellness Protocol I have been using for the past 2 months and why I have found it to be especially helpful for chronic illness and immunocompromised individuals.
(Note: Before I get into things, I have to say, once again, that I am NOT a doctor, licensed naturopath, or healthcare professional. All of the information I am about to outline below is based on personal experience and my consultations and treatments with my doctors and trusted practitioners. Take it at face value and ALWAYS consult your doctor before starting on any vitamin or supplementation program.)
So, let’s dive in! Let’s talk supplements. It is a subject rich with opinions, debate, and a wealth of good and bad information. From my experience, I actually find that when it comes to supplements, people usually buy-in completely and take an arsenal of vitamins, herbs, and health elixirs, or they don’t take anything at all. In other words, the sheer number of products, supplement companies, and conflicting literature out there just confuses people too much to even want to try deciphering what to take and what not to take, and what they need vs. what is flash-in-the-pan hype.
What I do know from my experience of completely losing my health for the year after our mold exposure is that when taken correctly and under the guidance and understanding of a knowledgeable health care professional, the right supplements can make an enormous positive impact on your health. I actually believe so strongly in the power of correct supplementation now, that I always turn first to vitamins and supplements to aid with sickness or malaise before any pharmaceuticals or OTC remedies, and I will not leave my home for even 24 hours without my basic course of daily vitamins and supplements. I also now know many people whom I respect and hold in high regard for their knowledge about health–medical professionals, naturopathic doctors, herbalists, fellow mold patients, environmental illness advocates, elite athletes and biohackers—who deem supplementation and vitamin support as ESSENTIAL to health and performance. I believe people underestimate how optimal wellness is more valuable in preventing illness than in curing illness.
I think this is because all of these people, including myself, have found that our bodies actually NEED vitamins and supplements to function at optimal levels in today’s world. Heck, not even optimal levels. I think we need additional vitamins and supplements in our diets in order to stay well and to fend off sickness and disease, like mold illness, for example. Those of us harmed by environmental toxins tend to be unique in our vitamin and supplement needs. There are vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants we need more of than the average individual, because our bodies don’t tend to make them as efficiently. We also don’t metabolize toxins as easily. Thus, our detox systems have been extremely taxed and need constant support and clearance. There are very few mold patients who can get what they need to maintain an ongoing healing process simply from eating a healthy diet.
Now, I want to unpack why this is. Why in the day and age of readily available food and nutrients do I think we need supplements and vitamins to be healthy? Here are a few of the top-contending answers, in my book:
- Our soil has become depleted. There are now so few essential minerals, and nutrients in our soil that the plants coming from that soil are also depleted. Our plants, vegetables, and fruits are frequently tested for nutrient density, and while more readily available, larger in size, and more ethically pleasing than their predecessors, todays food contains significantly less vitamins and minerals than that 10 years prior. This means that even if you are consuming the US government’s RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruits a day, you STILL will not be meeting your body’s vitamin/mineral demands, because what is in those servings is of depleted nutritional value.
- The length of time between harvest and consumption degrades nutrient levels in our foods. Since most of us are not farming, hunting, and growing our own food, we are purchasing foods that were harvested weeks, months even prior to the time that we consume them. Actually, many vegetables and fruits are picked unripe, transported, and are chemically ripened with ethylene gas at distributors when they are closer to market. That is why we have “vine-ripened” tomatoes that taste better. As soon as a plant, vegetable or fruit is harvested, its nutritional value starts to decrease. Supplementing helps to bridge that nutritional gap between what is consumed and what that food is missing in its current state.
- Our tap water is filtered of essential minerals like magnesium, contaminated with chlorine, and fortified with calcium and chemicals like fluoride. The current filtration processes that removes minerals from water could also explain why people who drink tap water (water higher in calcium than magnesium) are at risk for myocardial infarcts and ischemic heart disease. In addition, our foods and beverages are constantly fortified with calcium, but in the absence of adequate magnesium intake—it has been reported that over 50% of the US population is severely magnesium deficient, this excess calcium can become a health hazard. It builds in the body causing calcifications and a host of medical conditions. Supplements can help to control and offset the body’s vitamin/mineral balance that it isn’t getting from food/water alone.
- Our animals are malnourished. If our soil is depleted and the plants grown from it are depleted, then it is a foregone conclusion that the animals eating those plants are also malnourished. We may have lots of fat, grain-fed livestock, but they are not getting nutrition from the food they are eating. Thus, our meats are also less nutritionally dense and aren’t sufficient fuel for our bodies. (In recent Vitamin C measurements taken from beef liver, a typical serving now only contains 1.9 mg of Vitamin C, or 3% of the RDA. Just 7 years ago, a typical serving contained as much as 10.5 mg or 18% of the RDA for Vitamin C.)
- A body needs nutrients to deal with toxins. Because of all of the toxins in our air, soil, personal care products, and our food (additives, pesticides, preservatives, synthetic chemicals, etc.), our bodies NEED more vitamin/supplement and mineral support to combat free radicals. If we are not actively taking antioxidants and detoxing free radicals from our bodies, the oxidative stress builds, and we become both toxic and sick. This is especially true for mold patients. The mold was probably your toxic tipping point. Active detox should be a lifestyle thing, rather than a big event. We also eat foods that deplete us of minerals and vitamins in our diet. An example of this is soy.
- Our ability to absorb nutrients decreases with aging. As we age, we absorb less of the nutrients from the foods we consume. Our metabolisms also slow down. Absorbing less nutrition then can lead to digestive discomfort, fatigue, inflammation, and weight gain or loss. It can be a vicious cycle, if it is not properly managed. This is why we see so many of the elderly in our country living on Ensure and vitamin-fortified liquids. It is my belief that if we properly supplement, renewed vitality and energy would naturally increase longevity.
- Exercise increases nutrient needs. If you exercise regularly, your nutrient needs are greater than what you can probably take in with food alone. Even active people who eat an extremely nutrient-dense and diverse diet find it difficult to meet vitamin and mineral needs without edging on the verge of caloric excess, if all they are getting their nutrition from is food. Taking vitamins and supplements allows the body to quickly absorb nutrition which speeds cellular and muscular recovery and the body’s efficiency while, at the same time, minimizing time spent sourcing, prepping, eating, and digesting food.
- Inadequate physiology predicates illness. In other words, nutrient and mineral deficiency in the body affects your physiology, which then affects your immunity, which then leads to sickness. The more malnourished you are, the greater the chance you will become ill. I would also like to add something both very obvious, but also very controversial: Being overweight does NOT equal being over-nourished—in fact, most of the time, it is quite the opposite. Most overweight people, in this country especially, are extremely malnourished, inflamed, and are dealing with one or more chronic illnesses. When a diet consists of an excess of hyper-palatable, processed, packaged foods, excess sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup that has to be metabolized in the liver and converts to fat, almost every nutrient is missing. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a person to lose weight when they get on a course of proper vitamins and supplements to meet nutritional needs. When your body is in balance, cravings disappear. Supplements can provide much-needed nutritional support to someone trying to right their physiology.
- Illness increases nutrient needs. If and when you do become ill, the body works overtime to fight off that microbe, virus, toxin, or disease. As it fights to rid itself of the invader, you may find yourself sleeping all day, or extremely fatigued. This is because all of your nutritional stores and energy are going towards regaining your health. At these times, our bodies need extra fortification and supplementation to not only fight the illness, but to regain our health and vitality afterwards. I have met many mold patients who feel more depleted AFTER leaving the mold and detoxing their bodies simply because they haven’t gotten on a proper vitamin and supplementation regime to restore what was lost in the fight. Extended depletion then creates immune deficiency and the cycle of exposure and sickness can continue for years on end.
- Some medications hinder nutrient absorption. Let’s just focus on statins for example. One in 4 Americans age 45 and older take a statin drug. This amounts to roughly 127 million Americans. Statins block the absorption of cholesterol. Statins also help the body to get rid of excess cholesterol. Statins are not that smart, though. What many people do not realize is that statin drugs are also blocking the absorption of some nutrients and cause the body to bind and expel beneficial vitamins and minerals as well. Now, consider the fact that many people are on statin drugs from age 45 through the end of life. Think about all that their bodies need that they might not be getting nutrient-wise, because of that drug alone? Pretty crazy, right? Most people who are on daily medications, like statins, or blood pressure medicines are not also being put on vitamins and minerals to counteract or to address deficiencies by their doctors. It is yet another reason why we are becoming more and more depleted as a society.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause DNA damage which makes you age faster. The more you are lacking, the faster you are aging. It is that simple. Your body cannot repair without adequate nutrition. Nutrition fuels cellular turnover and natural detox. If damaged cells and toxins are not repaired or expunged, your body ages, or can become sick with something like cancer. It is also proven that oxidative stress shortens telomeres, or the length of DNA faster than normal aging alone. Increased consumption of Vitamin C and antioxidants can help to counter this shortening activity, restoring vitality and lengthening lifespan.
- High-quality, organic food is expensive. I want to get real and be transparent here. It isn’t always financially feasible to purchase the very best food. I do all of the grocery shopping for our household. I go to the farmer’s market and to organic grocery stores, but I cannot always afford the top-quality cuts of meat or organic fruits that my family prefers. When I can’t provide all of our nutrients via whole foods, I like knowing that we are still getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, because we are supplementing. Also, since my kids’ bodies are growing and their nutritional demands are increasing, the supplements I give them help to fill any gaps with what few vegetables they may have chosen for their lunch in the cafeteria that day. We definitely talk about nutrition and the importance of whole foods for energy, health, learning, and strength, but they are also kids and are going to choose things that taste and look good over what they should have for nutritional reasons. I am also busy and have to grab nuts, jerky, smoothies, and protein bars instead of meals sometimes. These are better food choices, but not always the most nutritionally dense. The fact that I supplement helps me to not crash, jeopardize my immune system, or become nutritionally depleted. My philosophy is that I have high-quality vitamins and supplements available to me, so why not use them?
I could continue with this list for ages, but I think those points give you the general idea: I believe supplementation is essential.
Before I end this post, I want to also give you a brief rundown my daily supplement routine that I use to continue my mold recovery and to maintain my health. This should give you a clear picture of my daily strategy when it comes to supplements. This list is what is needed for maintenance for MY body. We are all incredibly different and need different levels of different vitamins and supplements. Something also to take into account that I haven’t discussed too much on the blog is the fact that I have ulcerative colitis as a result of my body breaking down and attacking itself. I have been able to manage it and live symptom-free using diet and supplements. These are the only tools I use to manage it, and I haven’t experienced a flare for over a year now. That being said, I hope you just consider my list a general guideline or jumping-off point to build your own routine.
I will also say that the supplements, vitamins, and minerals you choose to take should make you feel better. Whether that means that your sleep patterns are normalized and beneficial to your body, that you feel more energized, more relaxed, like your digestive system is working better, like your elimination processes are going smoothly, whatever the goals are for you, your decided course of supplementation should help you to achieve those goals. If while taking anything, you feel worse, nauseous, tired, have digestive distress, or cannot sleep, you should stop taking that supplement and consult your doctor.
- Upon waking, I take 2 BetaMax 500 capsules on an empty stomach. This supplement is a 3-beta glucan designed to boost macrophage production and T-cell efficiency. Beta glucans have been proven to make the body better at removing toxins, allergens, microbes, bacteria, and viruses.
- I use 3 sprays of Sinus Defense under my tongue to boost my immunity to mold and other environmental allergens.
For me, this is a no-brainer and has helped my body recover from the mold more than any other supplement. I also use 2 sprays of the CellTropin to help balance my hormones and to support my endocrine system, both of which are hit hard and damaged by mold exposure. Thus, I need this extra support now.
- 30 minutes after the BetaMax 500, I take a probiotic. Lately, I have been alternating between Essential Flora, VSL#3, and MaryRuth’s Liquid Probiotic. I find that rotating my probiotics to increase the diversity of bacterial strains I am taking is really helpful to prevent food intolerance and digestive issues.
- Then, I take my Multivitamin/Multimineral supplements. Lately, I have been on the Burgstiner Wellness Protocol, so I have been taking 2 tablets of the Complete Thymic Formula. I use IntraMax Liquid Multivitamin when I am not on the Thymic Formula. I highly recommend liquid multivitamins to mold patients, because they are easily absorbed and utilized by the body. For my Multimineral, I take IntraMin. I honestly have not been able to find anything comparable.
- Next, I take a liver support supplement called Liver CS Plus.
It helps to cleanse and support the liver, aids in digestion and nutrient absorption, boosts immunity, and keeps detox pathways open. It actually also has some heavy metal binding agents in it to prevent build up in the body. Taking this on a regular basis have been a game-changer for me. I never viewed detox as something I needed to do daily. Now I know that actively promoting a “clean” atmosphere inside helps with preventing relapse.
- Right before I eat (throughout the day), I take a digestive enzyme.
This decreases my digestive discomfort and feels like it speeds digestion for me. I actually FEEL like what I eat is being better utilized and absorbed when I take this. My favorites are Essential Enzymes and Digest Gold. I recommend you choose something you can take 1-3 times per day before or with meals.
- After eating, I take an Omega fatty acid supplement, like Essential Omegas and 2 Tablespoons of MTC Oil, like Brain Octane.
These types of supplements are fat soluble, so are best taken with food. High-quality fat supplements help with brain function, metabolism, insulin regulation, heart and joint health.
- Finally, I take a liposomal Vitamin C supplement.
I like the ones by Quicksilver Scientific (for a liquid) and Dr. Mercola for a capsule. They boost immunity and target free radicals in the body. I find this extra boost of Vitamin C really keeps me mold-symptom free for the majority of the time.
Supplements Throughout the Day:
- Digestive Enzymes with meals.
- Sinus Defense and CellTropin 3 sprays of each around 2 pm, or as needed, if I feel I have had a mold exposure.
- CitriDrops Dietary Supplement –
8 drops in 4 ounces of purified or mineral water after lunch to actively treat any yeast in my digestive system.
Before I go to bed, I take the following:
- If I am on the Complete Thymic Formula, I take my second dose at this time. If I am on a different multivitamin, I only take that in the morning.
- I take my second dose of Liver CS Support, or I take Organic Milk Thistle for general liver support and to calm any inflammation or digestive discomfort before going to bed. I like to cycle between one or more products in each group, so that my body doesn’t reach homeostasis.
- A magnesium supplement, like MagnifiCal, MaryRuth’s Liquid Nighttime Multimineral, or Natural Calm.
All of these provide great magnesium support and help my body to relax. Make sure to read the directions carefully as too much magnesium citrate can give you loose stools. It can also make you drowsy, so only take it at night.
- Liposomal Glutathione. I like the one made by Quicksilver Scientific. Many mold patients don’t produce enough glutathione on their own or experience a halt in glutathione production as a result of the mold exposure. Supplementing helps the body to detox free radicals and to stay well, even when faced with daily toxins.
- 2 more TBSPs of MTC oil. This puts a little fat into my system to help me sleep and to not wake up feeling hungry, because my blood sugar remains more stable during sleep.
- Another dose of my probiotic. I take mine 2 times per day to help with my colitis. Most folks will only need this once per day, but I like to break up my dosing to keep a constant level in my digestive system.
- Melatonin. Melatonin has become an essential part of my daily regimen. I suffered from terrible insomnia when I was in the thick of my mold sickness. In trying to conquer that, I learned so much about the benefits of melatonin. Not only do low doses improve circadian rhythms and sleep cycles, but it also improves immune function, is a powerful antioxidant, slows the aging process and decreases inflammation. Also, the natural levels of melatonin in our bodies tend to decrease as we age, so supplementing is extremely helpful to the body. Melatonin is also the primary hormone responsible for inhibiting cancer cell growth. It produces interleukins, which tell the killer T cells to destroy cancer cells. I use liposomal melatonin, like the one by Quicksilver Scientific or the sublingual spray by Source Naturals.
I sure hope that all of this information is both enlightening and helpful. Please comment or email me with questions or topics you would like to hear about.