supplements

Holiday Survival Guide

There’s nothing like the Holiday season to give good cheer, warm receptions and a whole lotta stress.

For women with a low-functioning thyroid this time of year can be particularly tricky.

Between colder temps and erratic schedules the holidays can put a damper on the thyroid

and leave us feeling a bit wiped out and exceedingly exhausted.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland found just below the Adam’s apple.

Just like a butterfly- it’s a sensitive one. The thyroid is sensitive to both internal and external stresses.

And, hypothyroid ladies tend be delicate ones- sensitive to the changes of the season, 

to different foods and to over-doing.

Here’s 6 tips to get your through the holidays and well into the New Year:

1. Eat Breakfast (and make it warm): Balance your blood sugar and heat up your bod

in one fell swoop by eating a warm breakfast. If you want to maintain your sanity throughout the day,

then start it right. Breakfast is a hormonal must and for those of us with a

low-functioning thyroid having a warm one is just the ticket.

During the cold months of the year, cut your thyroid slack by having your breakfast heat

boost your internal temp. Think outside the box and go for warm quinoa porridge,

simple scrambled eggs, or some warm chicken soup to get you going in the morning.

2. Schedule “ME” Time: It’s impossible to stay sane without getting yourself on the “To-Do” list.

Low thyroid folks tend to be caretakers and err on the side of overdoing. While it feels oh-so-good to tend to

someone else’s needs, it is absolutely necessary to take care of yourself.

Give yourself some TLC by scheduling it in. Whether it’s a hot bath or a crisp walk, get yourself on the list.

3. Perfect Schmerfect: The holiday’s can often bring out the worst of the worst

when it comes to self-judgment, doubt and and perfectionism. It’s hard for the body to glow

when the mind is chattering nasty words every time you catch your reflection. From the perfect dress,

to the perfect hair, to the perfect weight, all the perfectness can add up to impossible. And the feeling

of “not being good enough” is a downer for you, your hormones, and your health.

Give yourself a break and see what happens when you drop perfectionism

and replace it with kind thoughts.Find one thing that you love about yourself and highlight it.

See if you can go from “Do I really look like that?” to “Girl….I love your smile!”. Believe me, that little switch

will do your attitude and your mojo a big favor.

4. Check in Early: Sleep is key during the holiday season. OK, you might not get a lot of it on

a social night, but make sure that you check in early on the other nights during the week.

The darker months are tough on a low-functioning thyroid for two reasons: it’s cold and there’s not as much sunshine.

Getting good rest will help one other important gland in your endocrine system: your adrenals.

Strong adrenals pave the way for a healthier thyroid.

5. Get Good with saying “NO”: The thyroid is located right, smack dab in the middle

of your throat. Being able to “speak your truth” is vital for a healthy, functioning thyroid. It’s so easy for us

low-thyroid types to go into overwhelm and overload.Sometimes we just go along with what everyone else wants

because it’s easy. Saying “No” to what you don’t want is a big deal for thyroid types. But here’s the real trick.

When you say “No” to what you don’t want, you’re really saying “YES” to what serves you. Give yourself permission

and maybe even a little practice and go for the “N-O” when you mean it.

6. Connect with People (and enjoy the food): Party food and desserts are like the big

“elephant in the room” for low thyroid types. We tend to pack weight on or have reactions to food by looking

at a piece of cake. Parties are meant to bring people together to have fun and celebrate.

Make the party about the people and let the food be the icing of the event.

When it comes to dessert time there are some ways to keep it all in check. First, tune into your body

and let yourself enjoy dessert if you really want it. Note: at some events you might feel like skipping the sweets

and at others you might want to have some. Be in the moment and be true to yourself.

When you do choose the dessert, take your time to fully enjoy it. Taste the flavors and the sweetness-

let it roll in your mouth and make an impression. ENJOY it- rather than hide in deprivation or feel like

you’re sneaking something. There’s no need to beat yourself up for having something that feels

pleasurable in the moment. Less Guilt equals more freedom. More freedom is less stressful.

Less stress helps your hormones every single time.

Tips are Even Better when Shared

If any of these tips hit the “a-ha” meter for you, then make sure to pass ‘em along by using your

favorite social share buttons at the bottom of the post. And, if you’ve got a holiday tip to try,

make sure to leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Here’s to spreading the cheer and let the Holiday season roll!

~ Kristin

Want to get more out of your Vitamin D? Try these 3 Tips

Fish and cod liver oil contain vitamin D naturally.
Fish and cod liver oil contain vitamin D naturally.

Vitamin D is one of the most popular supplements these days. Most people test low for it, most docs recommend it, and people are taking D supplements in droves.

But is the high- dose vitamin D you’re taking working well for your body?

High-dose vitamin D therapy might feel good in the short term. You might experience an increase in energy or a shift in your mood. Maybe you’ll feel a little stronger, or more resilient. Most people feel better with high dose therapies in the short run because of severe deficiencies in our diets and lifestyles.

But over the long haul, dosing with a synthetic nutrient- in particular vitamin D- may have unwanted consequences (read more about the differences between whole foods and synthetic supplements here).

When considering supplementation, it is wise to understand a few critical points about vitamin D.

1. The RDA for vitamin D is between 200 and 400iu. Doses of 50,000iu can be toxic. These days, it is common practice for professionals to recommend 4,000- 10,000iu units on a regular basis. Now, I’m not one to throw around RDAs because those numbers generally reflect isolated compounds. But when it comes to the miracles of vitamin D, more is definitely not better because of factor number 2.

2. Your body stores vitamin D. You’ve got a smart body, yes, you do. You can make this nutrient in the sun and you can also get some D’s from food. Yet, your body “knows” that vitamin D is not always readily available due to cloudy days or a deficient diet. To even things out, your body stores vitamin D in fatty tissues like your liver, skin, brain and bones [note…vitamin D is not stored in blood]. That’s good news if you’re getting your D from food sources, but if you’re taking high doses of D that means you’re at risk for toxicity over time.

Vitamin D toxicity is nothing to joke about.

Vitamin D is a big helper in calcium absorption and metabolism, so it goes to follow that too much vitamin D often leads to symptoms involving too much calcium. Symptoms can include, nausea, loss of appetite, headache, kidney stones, calcium deposits in the soft tissue (i.e. kidneys, heart, and lung), as well as hypercalcemia. [Hypercalcemia is a fancy word for too much calcium in the blood, which can put unnecessary strain on the kidneys.]

Because vitamin D is stored in fat, toxicity is going to vary from person to person. Unfortunately, young kiddos and babies are most at risk.

Research has indicated that your body reacts differently to synthetic and food sources of vitamin D. According to Judith DeCava, CNC, LNC, author of The Real Truth About Vitamins and Antioxidants,:

“One of the effects associated with taking excessive amounts of the chemically isolated, synthetic vitamin D is high blood pressure. Yet studies with cod liver oil, a source of natural vitamin-D complex, report a reduction in blood pressure if previously elevated.”

After comparing synthetic and natural sources of D, researchers-Barnes, Brady and James- have concluded: “It would seem that we are not justified in considering rat units of vitamin D in irradiated ergosterol [a synthetic form of vitamin D] as being equivalent to the same number of rat units of vitamin D in cod liver oil [a natural source] as a curative or prophylactic remedy for rickets.”

Does this mean that you should ditch vitamin D?

Heck no, D is critical for mineral metabolism, bone growth, proper cell permeability, and a healthy nervous system. And, as it turns out, vitamin D may also have a critical role in hormone production through the thyroid and parathyroid glands.

A healthy body stores extra vitamin D for cloudy days.
A healthy body stores extra vitamin D for cloudy days.

Instead of relying on a high-dose vitamin D therapy, consider siding with Mother Nature and get your D’s in with these 3 low-cost alternatives:

1. Eat foods high in vitamin D: Our bodies can’t make vitamin D on it’s own, but we can get significant amounts from our food. Higher levels of vitamin D are found in fish, butter, cheese, liver and eggs. Fatty fish, like tuna and salmon, rank the highest in vitamin D.

2. Take a break in the sun: A young, healthy body can make up to 10,000iu of vitamin D in one day of sun exposure. For most of us, plenty is made within 10 minutes of sitting in the sun. Skip the sunscreen and peel off the sunglasses, and give yourself the gift of 10 glorious minutes of vitamin D therapy in the sun.

3. Supplement with cod liver oil: If you’re still not convinced on the amount of D that you’re getting in any one day, cod liver oil might be your best bet to cover your bases. Look for an oil that is not tampered with or processed with peroxides, with a ratio of 10:1 vitamin A to D. You can find a high-quality, fermented cod liver oil here.

When making changes in how we think about a particular supplement (especially one that is touted as often as vitamin D), it can be helpful to seek inspiration and reassurance. Weston A. Price, DDS, author of the revolutionary book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration wrote:

“Nature has been making normal birds, butterflies, and animals for millions of years. If wild animals can do it why cannot we? Is it because they, by their instinct, select the right foods and do not meddle with Nature’s foods by changing them?”

Switching the high-dose Vit D to low-dose-but-works-like-a-charm cod liver oil may not seem like a big deal, but your body undoubtedly knows the difference.

Now, I’ve got a question for you. I want to hear your story. How do you get vitamin D? Have you been taking a high-dose supplement or are you already a fan of natural sources?

~ Kristin

Sources: DeCava,CNC, LNC , The Real Truth About Vitamins and Anti-oxidants, pp. 97-106.

D.R. Fraser, “Vitamin D,” The Lancet, Vol. 345, No.8942, (14 January 1995), pp.192-198.

D.J. Barnes, M.J. Brady, and E.W. James, “Comparative Value on Irradiated Ergosterol and Cod Liver Oil as a Prophylactic Antirachitic Agent When Given in Equivalent Dosage According t the Rat Unit of Vitamin D,” American Jounal of Diseases in Children, Vol.39, (1930), p.45.

R.A. Buist, “Vitamin Toxicities, Side Effects and Contraindications, “International Clinical Nutrition Review, Vol. 4, No.4, (1984), pp.159-171.

Supplements: Could They Be Harming your Health?

whole foods vs. synthetic supplements
whole foods vs. synthetic supplements

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in the “Flintstone generation”.

Yep, when I was a kiddo, I saddled up to the breakfast bar with a Pop Tart in one hand

and tiny, rainbow-hued Pebbles and BamBam in the other.I was hooked.

As I grew older and started my own health journey, I remained committed

to taking supplements daily for lots of reasons:

  1. I wasn’t always able to eat the perfect diet.
  2. I knew nutrients were lost as food was trucked or flown to stores
  3. I’d heard about poor soil quality lowering the nutrient quality of foods.
  4. I had a deep faith that I needed supplements to be healthy, dating from my Flintstone era.

I took supplements all throughout acupuncture school and during the first few years of my practice.

And although my life was grand, I was getting sicker all the time.

My hair was falling out. My energy was dragging. My husband would literally have to push me out of bed

because I would sleep through my alarm. At one point, my hormones were so off-kilter that

I had a cycle for three months straight.

I wasn’t exactly the picture of good health.

Keep in mind that at this point, I was rockin’ a diet based on Sally Fallon’s cookbook, Nourishing Traditions. I was eating home-cooked meals of grass-fed beef, lots of veggies, and even a good amount of fermented foods. Nutritionally speaking, there was no reason that my health should have been failing.

I started wondering about the supplements I was taking.

Are your Supplements Synthetics?

We don’t hear much discussion about synthetic supplements. Even as a health care professional, I assumed the nutrients in the high-end brand of supplements I was taking—and selling to patients—were extracted from a natural source. The Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) I was taking must have been from oranges or some other food, so that it was in a form my body could easily absorb.

Boy, was I wrong.

There’s a big difference between nutrients from whole foods and the nutrient ingredients used in the vast majority of supplements. After all, supplements are a billion- dollar industry aimed at maximizing profit. With modern day marketing, many popular supplement recommendations, from the necessity of a daily multi to high-dose vitamin D, are being sold to us.

Take a carrot for instance.

Carrots are loaded with nutrients. Bigwigs like beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), as well as lesser-known players like folicin and mannose. In fact, scientists have isolated about 200 nutrients and phytonutrients in the humble carrot.

These 200 nutrients work together in mysterious ways. The little guys help get the big guys and vice versa, There are enzymes, coenzymes, co-vitamins , minerals, and other factors that help the nutrients work together synergistally.

Scientists don’t know how all this works, and they probably never will. It’s the magic and mystery of nature.

Take a look at the standard multi-vitamin label. We’re content when we see 20 ingredients listed in high percentages. Now think about that carrot again. There’s over 200 known nutrients in that carrot. Foods are complex in their nutrients because nutrients need each other to be properly absorbed and integrated into our bodies.

In our culture, we’re used to the idea that “more is better.” If beta-carotene is good for the eyes, then a whole bunch of beta-carotene must be really good for the eyes.

This type of thinking is not how Mother Nature works when it comes to nutrition.

Foods are balanced. Foods are loaded with lots of nutrients but never in megadose quantities. You’d be hard-pressed to find a food with 1,000 mg of ascorbic acid, let alone the 5,000 mg–10,000mg doses often sold at stores or from health care professionals.

Whole-food whiz Judith DeCava, CNC, LNC writes in her book The Real Truth About Vitamins and Antioxidants:,

   Natural food concentrates will show a much lower potency in milligrams or micrograms. This is frequently interpreted

               to mean they are less effective, not as powerful. Unfortunately, the "more is better" philosophy is far from nutritional truth.

And this:

             Vitamins are part of food complexes and must be associated with their natural synergists (co-workers) to be properly utilized and

             be a potent nutritional factor. In other words, a minute amount of a vitamin that is left intact in its whole food form is tremendously

             more functional, powerful, and effective nutritionally than a large amount of a chemically pure, vitamin fraction.

In the case of nutrition, “more” definitely isn’t better.

So where are supplement manufacturers getting the nutrients to make their pills?

Most of what’s being sold to us (even the supps with the healthy folks and rainbows on the label) are chemicals, repackaged in creative ways.

Most supplements contain mega-dose vitamin isolates without their little guy partners, also known as vitamin fractions. Others are simply chemical compounds made in factories, also known as pure, crystalline vitamins.

Both are synthetic and both are a detrimental to long-term health because they’re man-made, not nature-made.

Mother Nature knows best. Nutrients need each other to work effectively in our bodies. The big guys need the little guys just as much as the little guys need the big guys.

When we take supplements in high doses or in isolation from their natural counterparts, there will be consequences. Initially, our bodies might do well with these synthetics because of our extreme deficiencies. But over the course of time, synthetic vitamins can create even deeper deficiencies.

DeCava notes that synthetic Thiamine (B1: a common chemical ingredient of most standard multivitamins) “will initially allay fatigue but will eventually cause fatigue by the build-up of pyruvic acid. This leads to the vicious cycle of thinking more and more Thiamine is needed, resulting in more and more fatigue along with other accumulated complaints.”

But perhaps this story of a medical doctor held captive during the Korean War [1950-1953] is the most telling example.

After a period of time with a poor diet, his fellow prisoners of war began to show signs of beriberi, a disease that results from a severe thiamine deficiency.

After contacting the Red Cross, they sent him some vitamin B1 in the synthetic form, Thiamine HCL. What happened to his patients with the pure-crystalline fraction? They continued to decline.

In fact, the plague worsened until that same doctor listened to a couple of guards who told him that rice polish (known today as rice bran) could be used to alleviate the symptoms. The doc started feeding his patients the rice polish one teaspoon at a time. Within a short period, his patients’ improved and the beriberi plague ceased.

Bottom line is that nature’s nutrients are packaged to perfection. A simple teaspoon of rice polish outperformed a high-dosage, synthetic compound.

Does this mean we have to throw out our supplements altogether? Not so fast.

First we need to know the difference between whole-food concentrates and synthetic supplements. It’s all in the label.

Read the ingredients. The ingredients tell it all. If a nutrient is listed as a food like liver, pea vine, or alfalfa, you’re good to go. If there are chemical names like niacin, thiamine, or tocopherols, throw it out. In nature, B vitamins come from the likes of nutritional yeast and liver, not niacin or thiamin. Vitamin C comes from green leafy vegetables, citrus, and buckwheat juice, not ascorbic acid. You’ll find vitamin E in wheat germ oil and pea vine, not in tocopherols.

Look at the DV percentage. The percentage of Daily Value is based on chemically pure vitamin fractions. If the nutrient on the label is listed at 100% or more, you know you’ve got a synthetic product on your hands. Remember, nature is low dose but highly potent. Beware of singular vitamins. Mother Nature works in tandem. Her nutrients are never found alone. If you’re taking a supplement all by itself, such as vitamin E or D, it’s guaranteed to be synthetic.

Don’t buy the hype.The supplement industry is an industry just like anything else. Major supplement manufacturers often sponsor studies and/or donate money to research programs at universities likely having some influence on both the study design and the results and conclusions reached.

The simple truth is that profit margins are much higher when manufacturers replicate standardized compounds rather than go through the careful, labor-intensive, more expensive process of compounding whole foods.

When it comes to supplements, it’s safer to stick with intuition and follow Hippocrates’ advice: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

As always, it’s great to hear from you in the comment section. I wonder, what’s your experience with supplementation? Tell me, have you had great success taking a supplement or have you noticed your health starting to slide?

~ Kristin

Want to know my favorite vitamin?

Vitamin R. Vitamin R is the least expensive vitamin that you can find on the market. It’s not one that’s really talked about all that often. It doesn’t even come in a box, but wowzer- it is a super healer and it’s really potent at this time of year.

Vitamin R is that rare vitamin that we all need. It’s the vitamin that supports repair and rejuvenation and it’s known as rest.

supps
supps

There is something to be said about putting yourself out there in the world. To accomplishing things and doing your work. There is also something to be said for taking a break and falling into deep rest.

We all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this time of year. We’re all trying to make special moments for the loved ones in our lives and that takes a bit of effort. But, there is a deeper calling at this time of year. Do you feel it?

It’s the calling of the darkness.

The darkness beckons us to break free from our patterns and our doings to spend a little more time reflecting.

As women, we are constantly doing for others. We give to our children, our mates, we extend to our friends, our neighbors, and our communities. And from time to time, it is so important that we take a break to give deeply to ourselves. Truly, truly, we can only give as much as we are able to receive.

I just wrapped up the last hormonal healing circle with 13 amazing women. This was the first time that I offered my work in this circle form. And, it was truly transformational.

One woman’s thyroid nodules are shrinking, another busy mom has dropped weight and changed her eating patterns, a third gal is cycling regularly, and a forth reports that she has finally broken through her hormonal stuckness. I am so proud of all the women who joined me over the last three months. They have taken their health into their own hands and now they are glowing in the results.

I am a big believer in “right” timing. I know you’ll know when it’s your time to take your health into your own hands and learn how to balance your hormones for good. If you’re feeling the call to go deeper, I am right here ready to be your guide.

In the meantime, I hope you can take some time off during the holidays and spend a little time replenishing your store of Vitamin R.

~ Kristin

Are your supplements synthetic?

Buckle in folks. This is a long post that will add years onto your life. No joke. Did you know that most supplements are synthetic?

The marketing mavens have us all tricked. Some people might even say that we’ve been hoodwinked. Supplements are totally natural aren’t they?

Guess again.

There’s a whole bunch of junk out there when it comes to the supplement market. Yes, supplements are a market just like anything else in our society. And it just so happens, that the supplement industry is a billion dollar market.

Last year alone, Americans spent about $1.5 billion on supplements. That’s a whole heck of a lot of money on the line. And here’s the heartbreaker, most of these manufacturers are in it for the cash and do not understand the human body.

I really don’t like being pessimistic about these things, and it’s really important that we understand what we put into our bodies. Our health truly depends on it.

Despite the natural looking label most supplements are made far, far away from the blue sky and the green grass. Most supplements are made in laboratories from chemical parts. You see, back in the 1930’s, the FDA declared that food has no medicinal affects. White bread is no different than wheat bread and sugar candies are no different than an apple. They did acknowledge that “parts” of food seemed to have some promise.

Essentially, the higher ups concluded that beta carotene- a vitamin found in a carrot- has more biochemical activity than the actual carrot. Suddenly the laboratory experiments were on and they started “making” these components.

Did you know that ascorbic acid (what we’ve labeled as vitamin C) is made from corn syrup? How about the fact that most B vitamins are made from coal tar derivatives? Wait, there’s more.

Even Wikipedia announces the sham in their definition of a vitamin.

Until the mid-1930s, when the first commercial yeast-extract vitamin B complex and semi-synthetic vitamin C supplement tablets were sold, vitamins were obtained solely through food intake, and changes in diet (which, for example, could occur during a particular growing season) usually greatly altered the types and amounts of vitamins ingested. However, vitamins have been produced as commodity chemicals and made widely available as inexpensive semisynthetic and synthetic-source multivitamindietary and food supplements and additives, since the middle of the 20th century.”

I don’t care how they package, wrap, or sell it. The stuff that they “make” does your body no good. Synthetics are loaded with “macrochemicals” that require micronutrients. Do you really think that the betacarotene in a carrot is absorbed into the body all by itself? Heck no! It needs a full array of enzymes, co-enzymes, minerals, trace nutrients and more. We’ll never know all the active nutrients in a carrot that activate and make that betacarotene bioavailable.

Here’s the real down and dirty. When you take a synthetic vitamin, your body has to supply all those accessory nutrients. So yes, you might be getting a high volume of chemically manufactured betacarotene, but you’re also sucking extremely high volumes of micronutrients right out of your system. In the end, your system will suffer.

So what are we to do?

Read the ingredient label so you’ll know if you’re taking a synthetic, chemically manipulated vitamin. If you see food listed like liver, pea vine, or alfalfa- you’re good to go. If you see chemical names like niacin, thiamine, or tocopherols- throw it out.

Yes, B Vitamins come from the likes of nutritional yeast and liver not niacin or thiamin. Vitamin C will like green leafy vegetables and buckwheat juice not ascorbic acid. Vitamin E that is found in wheat germ oil and the peavine plant not tocopherols.

It’s really pretty simple. All you have to do is remember this popular phrase, “Food is your best medicine.”

I honestly believe this information is critical to everybody’s wellbeing. In my clinical practice, I have seen the majority of clients get better just by getting off of their synthetic supplements. Please pass this post along to any friends or family that you really care about. You just might be the person to help them out. In the meantime, get your betacarotene and enjoy a carrot! xo

~ Kristin