Transcript EP 283 – Dr. Taz’s Take: Simple Rules for Choosing the Right Supplements
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Dr. Taz: Welcome back, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Superwoman Wellness, where we’re determined to bring you back to your super-powered self. Now, this is going to be an interesting episode. It’s going to be all me, yours truly, talking to you about something that I sometimes, honestly, get in the hot seat about. We’re going to talk about supplements. And I don’t know how many times I have to maybe answer back or defend myself that I think supplementation is necessary, almost mandatory, in today’s world.
Dr. Taz: Just today, my mom was telling me about a visit she had where she wanted to choose a supplement option versus a medication option for a condition that she was having. And the provider was getting so frustrated because they didn’t understand why she didn’t want to go straight to the medication. Well, here is the honest truth about supplements. We’re going to get it right in this episode. And we’re going to take away some of the hysteria around it, but also dispel the fact that we are sometimes taught to think that all supplementation is good. And it’s simply not true.
Dr. Taz: I’m going to break down why we might even need a supplement to begin with. Now, first of all, let’s just talk about optimization. This is where you want to feel, and I want you to feel, super-powered, amazing, on top of the world. Right? Who wants to feel like they can’t do the things they want to do in life? Well, here’s what’s happening. As time goes by, typically because of stress, because of the environment, yes, we can even say age sometimes, our natural amount of nutrients does start to go down in the body. We start to use them up.
Dr. Taz: And as we use up our nutrient resources, a concept called Kidney Chi in Chinese medicine, then we become depleted of essential nutrients. Don’t believe me? Well, compare vitamin D levels across the board in adults versus children. Or omega-3 fatty acids in, maybe, elderly patients versus a 20-year-old. We know that age and time takes its toll, but so do stress, the environment, the quality of nutrients in our food, and our hormones and so many other factors that we’re dealing with today.
Dr. Taz: Compound that with the simple fact that much in conventional medicine, whether it’s medications or surgeries or anesthesia, further depletes the body of essential nutrients. So, we’re walking around depleted. We’re walking around feeling less than, on empty gas tanks, rather than fueling and filling up and really feeling in our power and our best selves.
Dr. Taz: So, why is there so much back and forth? Well, I think there’s just not enough education, first of all, about nutrition in medical school. How can you identify a nutrient deficiency when you don’t even know that much about nutrition? And I think, secondly, I think doctors are simply not trained to look at disease and disease patterns and even symptoms as symptoms of nutrient deficiency, or not being able to absorb or get the right nutrients into your body.
Dr. Taz: This is crazy. It’s honestly foolish because if we look at every pathway in the body, it’s dependent on a nutrient. Don’t believe me? Well, serotonin, your feel-good neurotransmitter; guess what it needs? B vitamins and magnesium. Your thyroid wants to function, wants to give you the skin and hair of your dreams, maybe even the weight and temperature balance. Well, guess what it needs? It needs iron and the right probiotics in your gut. And estrogen, also highly dependent on iodine and even dependent on magnesium and omega-3 fats.
Dr. Taz: We know that there are connections to our nutrient load and to our overall health. But the food sourcing today, and many doctors use this line, “Well, if you’re eating a healthy diet, if you’re picking the right foods, getting a lot of plant-based foods,” that’s kind of the buzz right now, “or walking around the periphery of the grocery store, then you’re going to get all the nutrients you need.”
Dr. Taz: Well, partly. Sure. That’s better than eating packaged or junk foods or snacking on foods that have a lot of dyes or chemicals in them, absolutely. Your nutrient load is going to be higher than maybe one of your peers that’s doing the opposite. But here’s the problem. Here’s the fundamental problem. Our planet is not where it used to be. Our soil, our water, our crops don’t have the nutrient density that they have as recently as 25 years ago.
Dr. Taz: In addition to that, we are using chemicals; we’re using pesticides; we’re using all kinds of things on our crops. And I know if you’re like me and you’re listening to this podcast, you’re comforting yourself saying, hmm, well, that’s not me because I buy organic. Well, here’s the problem. There’s a lot of cross pollination. And there’s a lot of chemical runoff and pesticide runoff in our streams, in our rivers, in our lakes, and even in the same water that is fueling our organic crops.
Dr. Taz: So, what are we all supposed to do? Are we supposed to continue to work uphill, is what the suggestion might be? Eat right, exercise, do all these things. Make wellness so, so hard. And you still sometimes don’t get to where you need to be. So, what do you do instead? We have to be smart about this. We have to understand the science and the chemistry of the supplements that are going to work for your biology. You, remember, are a combination of your genetics, your environment, your choices, your life, how you live, your stress levels, how you sleep, and so much more.
Dr. Taz: When one of those things are thrown off, then you definitely have deficiencies that we have to come in and overfill. It’s almost like there are a lot of holes in your system, and we have to go in and plug those holes. What do we do? Well, we look at the supplements, first of all, that your biochemistry demands. I don’t like, and I tell you, this is my pet peeve. When folks come in and they’ve literally got a basket full or a bag full of supplements that they’ve been collecting over the years, and they dump it out on my desk, and they want me to tell them what I think. And here’s the challenge in those conversations, all the time. I’m, “Sure, this is good. And that’s good. A nutrient’s always good, right? But too much is not better. And more is not better, is probably more of what I meant to say. But more is not necessarily better because we know that supplements, just like medications, just like booze, have to be metabolized. They have to work their way through the gut, to the liver, to the bloodstream.
Dr. Taz: And if we’re going to overburden that system in any way, whether we take 10 supplements or we take 10 medications, it’s simply going to be too much. So, how do we solve it? How do we get around this? Well, we’ve got to understand your biochemistry. I encourage each of you to get checked the nine common mineral and supplement deficiencies that I see over and over again in practice. Starting to date myself a little bit here, guys. I’ve been in practice and the Centre Spring component of the practice for almost 14 years. And I’ve been a doctor for over 20. But hey, all of that comes with a lot of wisdom and a lot of knowledge and really being able to look at a whole lot of labs and understand what’s happening with patients.
Dr. Taz: Let’s talk through the common deficiencies. And then we’re going to talk about, maybe, how you pick up a bottle and really understand how to use it. Let’s start with some of the most common efficiencies I see, that are easy to correct with gentle and absorbable supplementation. Number one is the B vitamins. I see this over and over again. That is actually why and what led me to develop Boost, which is one of my formulas in EastWest Ways; actually the hero product or the foundational product. But so many of my patients, men, women, and children alike, were low in B1, B2, methylfolate, methyl B12, P5P, riboflavin. All of these things, super low. And what that was doing, it was giving many patients chronic fatigue, really a lot of issues with focus and memory, having issues with hormone metabolism.
Dr. Taz: A lot of estrogen dominance, we can tie back to B vitamins and to methylation. And especially in a time where mental health is out of control, the role of B vitamins in the gut-brain connection and in serotonin and dopamine regulation is astounding. There are so many people that, when they get their nutrients right, feel like different people. Anxiety, depression, OCD, many of these things start to dissipate.
Dr. Taz: The other reason I think, and I didn’t realize it initially, but I think the other reason the B vitamin issue is so pervasive is that I learned over the years that the gene MTHFR, there’s also COMT, there’s all these different genetics. Those genes kind of dictate a chemistry that typically runs low in B vitamins. So, there’s the gene piece to it. But that gene also requires, actually demands, that the body oversaturate with B vitamins and antioxidants, like glutathione or CoQ10 or alpha lipoic acid, to keep the mitochondria, remember those powerhouses in your brain and in your muscles, supercharged and keeping you vital and really ready to tackle whatever else there is for you to do.
Dr. Taz: So, the B vitamins are a fundamental one. I would say probably the next most common one is magnesium. You’re probably tired of me saying this, but our very soil today is deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is something that regulates so many different processes in the body: anxiety, depression. It helps with hormone balance of progesterone, thyroid, estrogen, insulin, all of them. It really helps us sleep. It helps us stay a little bit calmer, helps us focus. Again, magnesium is super important and a deficiency I see over and over again.
Dr. Taz: So, we’ve got B. We’ve got magnesium. The omega-3s. Remember, when that omega-3 level goes down, there’s more inflammation in the body. And again, by the way, guys, these are all numbers you can check. You can check your B vitamin levels in lab work. You can check an omega-3 in lab work, just like you can a serum or an RVC magnesium level. All right. omega-3, we know, helps to reduce inflammation, helps skin and hair, helps brain function. Again, reduces so much of the symptomatology of skin issues like acne and eczema and psoriasis. Definitely one that I think so many people need; often don’t even realize it.
Dr. Taz: Vitamin D. Oh my goodness. Even for folks, “I’m in the sun all the time. Summertime; oh, my vitamin D will come up.” Not true, guys. Here’s what’s happening. Vitamin D levels are low because they have to, yes, be absorbed by the skin. But guess what? They also have to be absorbed by the gut. So, if you’ve got issues with your gut lining, if you have issues metabolizing fat, vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, and that in turn will lead to low levels of vitamin D, sometimes even if you’re supplementing. So getting that vitamin D in, and maybe taking it with a little bit of a fatty food or a full stomach, might help to get your vitamin D levels optimized. Remember, vitamin D is really great for preventing depression as well. All right. That was four. We got through B, magnesium, omega-3, vitamin D. Let’s do a couple more.
Dr. Taz: We also know that iodine is one that keeps coming up over and over again. We have lots of theories as to why iodine levels might be low. One of our reasons is simply because, again, we’re using pesticides; the pesticides have bromide; bromide displaces iodine. It actually may be the cause behind a lot of the breast issues we have along with maybe even having issues with thyroid dysfunction and goiter. So, iodine is one to check for and to be aware of and to maybe add in. You have to go slow with iodine though. Don’t go crazy with that. We usually say to start at maybe three or four days a week and monitor it really closely.
Dr. Taz: Okay. What about zinc? Right? So many important functions of zinc. I think that zinc got some play when it came to the pandemic, where a lot of people noticed that zinc was making a difference. We know zinc shortens the duration of colds. It helps skin; conditions like eczema, again; psoriasis. Many of these skin-based conditions, acne, respond to zinc supplementation. We also know that zinc plays a really big role in hormone balance. One of the things that happens with birth control is that it deplete zinc but raises copper levels. So then you get all the different symptoms of that. And then we also know that testosterone is highly dependent on optimal zinc levels as is our thyroid. So again, this hormonal, functional interplay when it comes to nutrients. Zinc, oftentimes, if it’s low, it does need to be supplemented because all these different processes in the body are falling as well.
Dr. Taz: All right, I think that was six or seven supplements that we hit. Let’s see. B, omega-3, iodine, magnesium, zinc. Let’s also talk about iron. I think this one gets missed a lot. Iron is a really important micronutrient as well. Important for energy, hair, just feeling like you’ve got good muscle recovery and good physical endurance. So many folks run low in iron. You want to check the serum iron, but you also want to check ferritin, which is an iron-binding protein and can help you with, hey, are you running low in iron? Is there something you need to do about it?
Dr. Taz: All right, moving on to the gut family, I love… let’s add number seven and eight. Glutamine is an amino acid. It’s one of my absolute favorites. It comes in, it rebuilds the gut lining. And that, in turn, helps us with absorption. But it also helps with muscle recovery, and it helps with reflex as well. So, glutamine is one of my favorites. Probiotics. You’re probably tired about hearing about probiotics, but I love probiotics because they help to balance the microbiome. Again, a lot of the conversation around probiotics needs to be a little bit targeted to what your particular issue is.
Dr. Taz: And then last, number nine, but certainly not least, is, again, going back to this issue of fat malabsorption and how really getting some help with that because, as our guts get more and more sluggish, that is part of the reason why we are seeing so much micronutrient deficiency. So for that reason, I love digestive enzymes, especially something with oxyl or lipase. It helps us to digest fat and break fats down effectively, and therefore we absorb all the nutrients that we are seeking.
Dr. Taz: All right. Those are my favorite. I could have segued into lots of other things; into vitamin C glutathione, vitamin A, CoQ10. There’s so many, but this first little bunch of nine are the ones that I feel like I talk about over and over again and have more far-reaching impact than some of the other ones that folks individually need.
Dr. Taz: All right. Those are the nine most important supplements. But how do you go about picking one? Well, I grabbed a couple of handy bottles from whatever was laying around. But one of the first things you want to do, whenever you pick up a supplement bottle, is first understand the ingredients. You want to know what the ingredients are and make sure they put the amount of the ingredient by each particular ingredient.
Dr. Taz: Pet peeve for me is when they put an ingredient in, and they just have a little star there that tells you there’s either not a measurable amount or they’re just not sure how much is in there. So check your ingredient labels. Make sure you know the amounts of the ingredients. And the next thing you can do is look for certification. Many companies can voluntarily submit themselves. I’m trying to see if there’s one on this particular bottle. But they can voluntarily submit themselves for certification. That’s like the NSF seal or the GMP seal, which are good manufacturing practices. In addition to that, you can submit for certifications like kosher or organic, all of these things that help you to really feel better about the quality of the supplement.
Dr. Taz: So, discerning quality is a lot of understanding the ingredients, understanding the sourcing of the ingredients, the amount, and the certifications that maybe the supplement has submitted itself too. That’s something I would look at. I’d look at an expiration date and see if the product is still where it is. And then I would look at dosing. Sometimes these supplements are telling you to take six and eight capsules to get an acquired dose. First of all, that’s a lot. And I never want someone taking six or eight capsules; it feels really bad on the throat or on the esophagus and even on the gut and the liver. So again, pay a lot of attention to dosing. You really want more bang for your buck. It’s better to take fewer supplements and higher dosage than to take a million supplements at a lower dosage. So, keep that in mind as well.
Dr. Taz: We really want to be clear that those are some of the things you need to look for on the supplement bottle. There are a lot of consumer advocacy sites, too. There’s Consumer Reports. There’s the Environmental Working Group. There’s ConsumerLabs.com. Any of these sites, you can go on. And typically, you can put your product in or get close and understand either what the company’s like, what the brand is like, and if they are indeed what they say they are. So, hopefully that’s helpful. But again, remember: the reason we need supplements is because our stress, our food, our lifestyles, the use of multiple medications, surgeries, anesthesia, and our genetics dictate that we need optimal levels of nutrients. And a healthy diet simply sometimes isn’t enough. It’s important to understand what your body’s missing, so that instead of heroic procedures and big gun meds, you might be able to correct chemistry gently, really making a difference in your immediate health and even in your long-term health.
Dr. Taz: I know, for example, when Boost, that hero product that I was telling you about, is sold out, we’ve had it happen a couple of times, there’s been mass panic. Why? Because people feel better when their B vitamins are optimized. And we know for a fact that that feeling is one that you can’t get with so many other products. Medications, too, need to be vetted against supplements. That’s why we need our physician community to be educated, not slamming the door on this. We all need to be on the same page. But it has to be done in a responsible and safe way. And it needs to be done with guidance.
Dr. Taz: All right, my last editorial comment, and I promise we’ll move on from this. But my last comment is just something I saw just the other day in the news. Title, headline: Herbal Supplements Not Safe. Well, guess? What you dig in; you read the study a little bit further, and it says clearly that a patient took six times the recommended amount of two supplements and ended up with an arrhythmia. And now herbal supplements aren’t safe? Well, she didn’t do or didn’t seek counsel on any of the ways she was supplementing, took things into her own hand, took more than even what the manufacturer recommended, and of course had a negative outcome.
Dr. Taz: So, we’ve got to be supplement-smart, guys. We’ve got to really understand what’s going on with us. Be conservative. Don’t think more is better. And remember, a supplement is not an equivalent replacement for medication. We need to be guided through that journey and that process. And of course, that’s what I love to do and my team at Centre Spring does, and honestly what the functional and integrative medicine community is doing as we direct this type of medicine forward.
Dr. Taz: All right, that’s a mouthful. Go take your supplements. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode of Superwoman Wellness. Don’t forget to rate and review it and share it with your friends. And in fact, if you guys do, send me an email. Hello@DoctorTaz.com. Doctor is spelled out. You post a review, I’ll send you a bottle of Boost. We’ve talked about it a couple times here today. So, I’ll send it to you. See what you think, and you can let me know. But remember, I enjoy talking to you guys so much. If there are topics you want me to get into, send them my way. But I will see you guys next time.