Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Peek Into My Current Supplement Regimen

I believe in getting nutrients from food whenever possible. I also believe that it's sometimes easier said than done due to things like soil depletion and genetic glitches, and sometimes certain health situations warrant a little help from our supplement pals. So, I take supplements based on my specific health issues.

I'm always curious about what supplements other people take (I often compare arsenals with friends!), and I thought you might be curious about what I'm taking.
So, here's a look at my current regimen (please note that this information is for educational purposes only and isn't intended to tell you what you should take!):

-Natural Factors Methycobalamin 5000 mcg

I have a history of megaloblastic anemia and symptoms of low B-12. I'm not sure if it was from being a vegetarian for so long, from autoimmune disease, or if I lack intrinsic factor. But low B-12 isn't something you want to mess around with because it really impacts your brain and eventually results in neurological damage. Methylcobalamin is one of the active, methlyated forms of B-12, and in sublingual lozenge form it's ready to be absorbed right into the bloodstream and go to work. I take 10,000-15,000 mcg.

-Health From The Sun Evening Primrose Oil 500 mg

Some people are terrified of any form of Omega 6 fat, but we do need some. And not everyone converts O-6 into Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) efficiently. GLA inhibits the formation of inflammatory prostaglandins, which translates to things like relief from menstrual cramps and help for skin conditions like eczema.
Sources of GLA like Evening Primrose and Borage Seed oil can be helpful in many inflammatory conditions. I take Evening Primrose to help with hormone balance and for hair issues related to Hashimoto's (autoimmune thyroid disease). My dosage varies with my menstrual cycle and is between 500-1500 mg.

-Jarrow Selenium Synergy

Selenium is important for thyroid hormone conversion and, in the case of Hashimoto's, for managing antibodies. Selenium is also a great antioxidant, reduces cancer risk, and is involved in reproductive health. You can also get selenium from brazil nuts, but I don't always feel like eating brazil nuts.

-New Chapter Wholemega fish oil

Fish oil quality can be pretty iffy due to the manufacturing process which often includes distillation, subjecting the delicate omega 3 fats to heat. Heat, oxygen, and light = oxidized, rancid omega 3's.
I like this one because it's not nearly as refined as most and contains some naturally occurring astaxanthin for extra benefits. I don't usually take it on days that I eat salmon.

-Natural Factors CurcuminRich

This curcumin is THE. BOMB. It's the most well absorbed form on the market and you don't need as big of a dose as other brands. I use it to keep my autoimmune response balanced and, if I injure myself, I take extra to reduce the inflammation. I think it also helps with menstrual cramps. Curcumin is an all-around fabulous preventative supplement.

Jarrow N-A-C Sustain

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that increases glutathione production. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant, detoxifier, and a deficiency is present in autoimmune thyroid disease. I've also found it helpful for fighting off colds.

-Natural Factors D3 drops

This is vitamin D3 in olive oil and nothing else. The main reason I take D3 year round is that it's an important immune modulator. My dosage fluctuates seasonally. Right now I'm taking 3000 I.U.

-Nutricology Magnesium Chloride liquid

We all need magnesium. You've probably heard that it's involved in over 300 essential metabolic reactions in the body. It's vital for the absorption of calcium and it's essential for proper vitamin D utilization. The chloride form is well absorbed and this product is nothing but magnesium chloride, water and lactic acid- no fillers. I like it because it's easier on my G.I. tract than mag. citrate and I don't need a big dose to feel the effectiveness. My dosage varies according to symptoms like muscle soreness, but I usually take 1/2- 1 tsp.

There you have it- my current regimen. I use other things here and there like gelatin powder, dessicated liver powder, and undenatured, grass-fed whey protein, but I consider those to be more like foods than supplements.

Hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into my arsenal!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Avocado Oil: Beauty Magic In a Bottle

Wow, long time, no see, eh? Just when you thought I was gone for good, I'm finally back (and it's already summer! Sheesh!!). Sorry for such a long absence; I just hadn't felt like blogging in awhile, but now I do again and I'm back on the ball. So, on to one of my favorite subjects: beauty oils!

Using oils for skin and hair care is all the rage these days. From argan oil for hair and skin to olive and castor oils for the oil cleaning method, to the ever ubiquitous coconut oil, which is extra popular in Paleo/Primal culture, oils are everywhere.

I'm no stranger to oils, being the skin care adventurer that I am. Over the years, I've experimented with numerous oils, including olive, almond, hazelnut, rose hip, coconut (which actually dries my face out), castor, pomegranate, sea buckthorn, camellia, grapeseed, marula, argan, tamanu, sunflower, jojoba, and more. That's a lot of oils.
But there is one that stands above the rest for me in terms of skin and hair improvement and that is extra virgin avocado oil.

I've been using avocado oil as my facial and body moisturizer for awhile now and it has the magical ability to soften rough skin, deeply hydrate, refine skin texture, calm redness, plump fine lines, balance oiliness, and keep pores cleaner.
In addition to using it to moisturize, a few months ago I also started using it to cleanse my skin at night and that's when I saw a pretty dramatic increase in benefits. I have combination skin that tends toward dehydration and clogged pores as well as irritation and mild redness.

I no longer have to exfoliate my skin every other day- the cell turnover seems to have increased, and now my skin is super silky! The texture is much better than before, and the coarse areas are now baby-smooth. The redness is definitely reduced, while at the same time my cheeks have more color. Nice! My skin just looks better and healthier.

So, let me tell you some more about my BFF oil and its myriad benefits for the skin and hair:

-Avocado oil is one of the more deeply penetrating oils. It gets down into the deeper epidermis layers and helps to fix moisture into the skin. This makes it great for plumping out fine lines and dealing with dehydrated skin (even oily skin can be dehydrated!), as well as softening rough skin. Even though it feels thick, if used properly, it fully absorbs and doesn't leave an oily residue. The fatty acids are also similar to the skin's own sebum and are non-clogging.

-It's rich in healing vitamins B, C, D, E, K and, especially, A (like a natural retinol alternative, increasing cell-turnover), as well as potassium, lecithin, and chlorophyll.

-It has a high sterolin content. Sterolins are compounds which are anti-inflammatory and immune modulating. In the case of avocado oil, they can help heal sun damage and age spots, as well as inflammatory skin conditions like blemishes and eczema.

-It has been shown in a study to increases the amount of soluble collagen in the skin and improve wound healing. This translates to better skin repair and anti-aging benefits, as well as better elasticity and thicker, more resilient skin.

-It has a low level of UV protection (about an SPF of 6-8). Coupled with the high vitamin and sterolin content, it's definitely helpful for preventing sun damage (of course, use a non-toxic sunscreen if you're going to be out in the sun all day).

-It penetrates the hair shaft better than most other oils due to its monounsaturated fat content and makes a great pre-wash conditioning treatment. I started getting compliments on my hair after I began using avocado oil to treat my hair!

How to use it:
So, now that you know all about the wonders of avocado oil, here are some tips on how to use it so that you have a good experience with it. But first off, quality matters. I've used a number of brands and, by far, my favorite in terms of texture, smell, and performance is Olivado Extra Virgin from New Zealand. I find it to be less viscous than other brands of the virgin oil. You can also get cosmetic grade refined avocado oil, but my skin responds better to the dark green nutrient rich virgin oil. Chosen Foods makes an excellent naturally refined avocado oil that's neutral smelling (and tasting!) so you can still get the awesome hydrating qualities of avocado oil without smelling like an avocado.

For cleansing
I just do the basic oil cleansing technique: I massage the oil into my skin for a minute (this feels so nice!) and then I remove it with a cotton ball. I then steam my face for about a minute with a hot wash cloth and wipe any remaining oil off (this is important because you're dealing with dirty oil!). I follow up with my toner. My skin usually feels comfortable and hydrated enough that I don't need to use more oil after cleansing.

For facial moisturizing
I always mix my facial oil with a little water or toner in my palm before massaging it into my face and neck. This makes a HUGE difference in how it absorbs, as well as helps to fix more water into your skin. Start with just a couple of drops of oil. You don't need a lot.

For hair
This is super easy: I just massage a little into the bottom 2/3 of my dry hair (I don't soak my hair in it) and leave it in for a little while- often only 10 minutes while I make and drink my morning tea- and then I wash it out in the shower at the very end. I usually don't even need any conditioner. I use it 1-2 times/week.

For body

I just slather it on my body after showering, when my skin is still a little damp. Do I smell like an avocado? Totally! But I don't mind and the scent doesn't linger very long. I find it makes my skin so silky, helps with keratosis pilaris (due to the vitamin A content), and keeps my skin hydrated longer than other oils.

Now, go have some fun with some avocado oil!

P.S.- you can also use it to make salad dressing and mayo.