Supplements 101: Simple How-To’s to Get Started

One of my favorite things to do is talk to people about supplements, ingredients, dosing, etc. (Even before becoming a Rep for Plexus!), and motivating people to be on the right stuff!  I look at things my family takes and bug them about fillers, cross-contamination and nutrient deficiencies.  Being sick like I’ve been and having to learn the basics and beyond about the ins and outs of nutrients and supplementation has opened my eyes and the little mother hen in me wants everyone to pick out what’s best!

Supplement Conundrums At My Lyme Specialist

Husby and I went to our long-awaited Lyme specialist appointment *If you need to find a Lyme-literate doctor near you, check out the site for International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society* with bags of supplements in hand, a folder of past labs, and a paper of questions we hoped to have answered.  This was THE appointment when we would finally be given our treatment options.

We’ve chosen to go the all-natural route first (no antibiotics), and I knew that my Functional Med. Dr. would be up to the task of finding the right combos for my case.  He also has Lyme and treats it naturally.

But first, he needed to do what he called “Supplement Surgery”.

I laid out all of my current supplements–21 of them–and he categorized them in “keeps” and “phase outs” piles.

He then presented us with a couple of his favorite natural treatment options for Lyme involving multiple *as in MANY* supplements to be rotated every few weeks.  Notes in hand, we were sent to the supplement area where we could scrutinize and price check all of his recommendations. So, after all we’ve been through, I thought we’d be immune to sticker shock by now…not so!  And yes, even the bestest doctors’ prescriptions are ONLY recommendations.  We as responsible patients have the final say.

Let’s just say:  Thank GOODNESS we have fine-tuned our supplement sense or else we would’ve spent way too much money on things we didn’t need (at least not yet).  Furthermore, we also know how to phase in supplements as we phase others out, so we have a pretty good idea of which ones on his list we’d like to start with.

Think you’d like to develop the savvy supplement sense?  Since these skills have been super useful for us, I’d like to impart my top three and bring you in on our little secrets!

3 Skills for Savvy Supplement Senses

Get Your Labs Done

This is key because there are a lot of people who have symptoms of other illnesses due to simple nutrient deficiencies, and in my opinion, the vast majority of modern day humans are nutrient deficient.  For example, vitamin B12 deficiency can be mistaken for Multiple Sclerosis and even cause brain lesions.  Vitamin E deficiency can look like Friederich’s Ataxia.  To the trained eye, a simple look at a nutrients panel can be the foundation to getting your body healing and running again.  

Knowing what you are historically deficient in during “supplement surgery” can protect you from accidentally phase out a key supplement.  This knowledge saved me when the Dr. wanted to phase out my zinc (I take A LOT).  I am historically deficient as is seen in my nutrient panels both through LabCorp and other labs, and other Doctors have tried to ween me off with bad results.  The labs don’t lie! 

Labs also help for when a Dr. may want to put you on a supplement you don’t need.  Do I need more Vitamin A? No, I don’t.  I eat a ton of pumpkin and sweet potatoes and my labs show it (I’m in the way higher range here).

Dissect the Label

Next, get familiar with reading labels.  This is a skill that could take time.  You have to know what to look for, key words, and even amounts for each nutrient.

I take so many supplements that I have multiple spreadsheets with all my supplements and each nutrient listed line by line OR listed in the order I take them throughout the day.

Why am I so nerdy about this?

Well, when say 4 of your supplements have varying levels of *for example* Vitamin A, you’ll need to know how much you already take and how much you can take before going over the daily limit (this and other nutrients are also added to certain foods, so just get used to looking at the labels in your pantry and fridge too!).  You can also get a quick feel for which supplements you don’t need because the nutrients contained are already in other supplements you may have.

Be on the lookout also for your food sensitivities, fillers, added sugars and even food coloring.  All these are “ew” but are unfortunately super common!

Know Your Nutrients

Lastly, hone in on active ingredients.  Know what they do, how they interact positively or negatively with other supplements you take, and know why your Dr. wants you to take them.

For example, Vit C and Calcium shouldn’t be taken together as one cancels out the other when your body tries to absorb them.  Vitamin D, however, can be taken with Calcium as they work together.

For me, I’ve been told to use a ton of supplements to kill my Lyme, and if I had all the money in the world, I’d get them all!  However, I have to be wise financially, and take a deeper look at each individual supplement, know what it does, and see which ones do the same thing and take the best ONE.


*yes, this picture is real! I didn’t want to leave my supplements in the hot car…*

What could’ve been a stressful day at the Dr. was easy.  As my husby was quickly taking pictures of labels and prices, I was running through the list and jotting down notes.  We’ve been there and done all that before.  Somewhere in there a dad came in with his little girl and had a minute or two to perfect the deer-in-the-headlights look before he mumbled “I’m gonna need some help” and left.  The shelves upon shelves of supplements all around was definitely not for the untrained eye.

Like I said before: Thank GOODNESS we have fine-tuned our supplement sense!


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