Staff Diaries: What’s in Our Medicine Cabinets?
We asked 4 of our staff members what vitamins and supplements they take – here’s what they shared!
Role at Well.ca: Merchandise Planner
As a vegan of 4 years, my medicine cabinet is always stocked with 4 essential supplements that make up for some of the nutrients that I’m sometimes lacking when I’m not on point with my diet (because who really is 100% of the time!?). I’ve compiled a roundup of these 4 must-have vegan supplements to keep you healthy and thriving throughout your plant-based journey!
#1: Vitamin B12
There are sources of B12 found in certain algae, fortified plant-based milks, and faux meats; however, consuming these foods are not always convenient, and processed faux-meats are not the healthiest to consume on a regular basis. As a B12 safety net, I use a liquid formula that’s administered via a spray. Garden of Life is my favourite B12 supplement, and I only need 1 spray a week (even though it’s water soluble, B12 is stored in the liver) – this dosage gives me 500 mcg of B12 (8333% daily value).
#2: Plant-Based DHA/EPA
A lot of research has been done in the past 20 years that outlines the importance of DHA/EPA and its effects on cognitive function and cardio vascular health. Whole-food, plant-based sources of omegas consist of walnuts and flax seeds in the form of ALAs, which need to be converted into DHA and EPA in our bodies. Unfortunately, the conversion rate is very low, and therefore a supplement is needed! My daily go-to is this Genestra DHA/EPA supplement. I take 2 capsules every morning with my smoothie, and 2 capsules with dinner to ensure I’m getting sufficient amounts in my diet to keep my mind sharp, and improve overall cardiovascular health… cause doing cardio is hard enough!
#3: Vegan Protein Powder
The #1 question I’m asked as a long-term vegan is “but… where do you get your protein!?” My answer is usually “through whole food, plant-based sources since almost everything contains SOME protein”; however, as I mentioned, I don’t eat like a healthy plant-based food blogger every day, so sometimes I need to supplement my protein intake with powders. I’m also generally an active person outside of the office (I try to hit the gym 3-4 times a week), so I need to support muscle repair and growth. I make sure I’m including a scoop of chocolate Vega in a smoothie on days when my diet is not at its best. BONUS: this powder also contains 50% of your daily intake of vitamins and minerals!
Iron is another challenge for those who choose to follow a vegan diet. Although iron is readily available through many plant sources in the form of non-heme iron (almonds, leafy greens, legumes), it’s harder for our bodies to absorb vs. heme iron that’s found in animal products. That’s why I take Nu Life Iron Therepy supplements on days where I’m lacking enough plant-based iron.
Adding these 4 supplements to my vegan diet allows me to not only survive (!), but to thrive through life and all challenges that come my way! There are 1001 reasons to go vegan, and in order to maintain this lifestyle, it’s so important to make your health a priority!
Role at Well.ca: VP Marketing
Age: 40-something ?
Lifestyle: Active with 2 teenage kids
One of the great things about working at Well.ca is that we continuously share the latest and greatest vitamin and supplement trends. Naturally, I’ve tried a lot of them over the years. Here’s my current repertoire and why.
#1: Take B12 for More Energy!
Between work, kids, and family responsibilities, who doesn’t need more energy? After researching the benefits of this vitamin further, it turns out to be true that vitamin B12 maintains energy levels, prevents memory loss, lowers the risk of neurodegenerative disease, boosts mood and more. My energy levels are good and with all the other benefits, I will be keeping vitamin B12 in my routine.
#2: Take Collagen for Anti-Aging!
In my mind’s eye, collagen returns the elasticity to my skin. This is almost correct as collagen helps skin cells renew and repair, plus it helps skin look firmer and smoother. So my daily morning smoothie with a scoop of collagen doesn’t turn back the clock but it does slow down the clock. Another benefit of collagen is it reduces joint pain and degeneration. Sore muscles are a fact of life with my lifestyle so this is another welcome benefit.
#3: Take Magnesium for Muscle Strains and Stiffness!
I am active, I am older and I try too hard – therefore my muscles and body ache all-the-time! I will do anything to make it stop! It looks like I’m on the right track with magnesium because it relieves muscle aches and spams by helping muscles relax and contract. It also has additional benefits such as increasing energy, calming nerves, preventing osteoporosis and more. This supplement had me at relieving muscle aches but I’m now liking it even more!
#4: Take Biotin for Healthy Hair, Skin and Nails!
To tell you the truth, I take these gummy vitamins because they taste good and they satisfy my evening sweet craving. The fact that they help keep my hair and nails healthy is a side benefit! What I didn’t know about biotin is that it’s actually vitamin B7, and it helps to build and repair tissue and muscle. A sweet treat with benefits…I am one of the thousands who love these vitamins!
More energy, less muscle stiffness and soreness, and the fountain of youth are what I’m chasing in the vitamins and supplements I choose. I feel good about the ones I take now but I am always tuning in to the buzz around the office and online at Well.ca to see what else will help me meet my wellness goals!
Role at Well.ca: VP Finance
Growing up as a vegetarian and living an active and healthy lifestyle, I have always been focused on what vitamins and minerals may be lacking in my diet. While I now eat poultry and fish, mainly whole foods, and lots of veggies, I find it difficult to get all the nutrients that I need. So having a handful of high quality tablets every morning seems like a great way to promote good health!
I take most of my supplements in the morning along with a solid breakfast, when my body is craving nutrients and to kick start the day. My morning vitamins are ever evolving, but currently include:
This is a great way to promote healthy gut bacteria where the typical diet lacks any natural source. Probiotics help to promote general health and immunity, including the absorption of vitamins, minerals and nutrients from food and supplements. Currently, I am taking MegaFood MegaFlora given the strength and variety of probiotic strains; however, I will frequently alternate probiotics to ensure some variety for the digestive system.
There’s extensive research on the positive benefits of omega-3s for the brain and nervous system at higher consumption levels. In addition to dietary sources of EPA and DHA, I take two Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega capsules. Like many supplements, there are varying degrees of quality for omega-3s which can greatly impact the amount that you actually absorb. Nordic Naturals capsules are high purity, comprised of high quality ingredients and do not have any fishy taste.
#3: Vitamin D
This is one area where I know my diet really needs a boost from supplementation. Although having eggs and fatty fish in my diet helps ensure I am consuming some natural sources of vitamin D, living in Canada (especially in the winter time) means we do not typically get as much vitamin D as our bodies need. Having healthy amounts of vitamin D is a great way to support strong neurological and general health. In the winter months, I usually take 4,000 IU of Jamieson vitamin D tablets.
For my diet, a great all-around supplement is a solid multivitamin. I like MegaFood One Daily Multi-Vitamin because it’s made from real food, and thus has a high bioavailability and my body can get more from each capsule.
Given my limited meat consumption, I find it difficult to get enough iron from just my meals. A daily supplement of NOW Foods Iron Complex helps boost up my iron intake to support general health and energy levels. Also, including a tablespoon of molasses in the morning as a natural source of iron is a new favourite of mine!
Although I get a decent amount of zinc in my diet naturally through beans and nuts, I take a zinc supplement given the importance of this mineral for so many aspects of health and my active lifestyle.
In the winter months, I find I can end up getting run down more easily and susceptible to sickness. So I’ve tried daily supplementation with a good quality echinacea to help stay healthy. It seems to be working well so far!
Most evenings before going to bed I will also take a magnesium supplement to promote healthy cognitive functions. I like NOW Magtein because it’s more easily absorbed than other magnesium supplements.
Role at Well.ca: Buyer for Vitamins & Health
Age: (newly!) 30
So, I’m going to start with a confession, I’m terrible at remembering to take my vitamins. As the buyer for Vitamins & Health at Well.ca, I test and try all sorts of new products, but when it comes to sticking to a regimen, I’m a bit hopeless.
I’m an omnivore, but I prefer to stick to plant-based proteins for my smoothies. I’ve previously enjoyed hemp offerings from Manitoba Harvest and Ergogenics, but my protein du jour is the Vega One Unsweetened All-in-One Shake. Perfect as a smoothie base, this Vega formula has a delicious creamy taste, while being gluten-free and providing me with a dose of plant-base protein, greens, fibre, omega-3’s and more. Personally, I like to mix it in with a little low-cal yogurt, some fruit, and frozen spinach and whirl up a smoothie.
Mega-popular collagen is a new addition to my personal pantry and (here’s confession #2) one I’m taking for vanity reasons. As a new member of the 30+ club, I’m starting to notice more fine lines, and collagen can help support skin elasticity and smoothness. There are two formulas I’m loving so far this year – Progressive Complete Collagen, which comes unflavoured, but I personally love mixing up a S’well full of the citrus flavour. I’m also trying out the Pure Gold Collagen brand, which is new to Well.ca and comes in individual liquid doses that taste exactly like peach juice. Yummy!
#3: Healthy Fats
This is a morning addition! I’m a coffee drinker who isn’t a fan of breakfast during the week, so I add a MCT oil to my coffee as I rush out the door. The MCT oil (which is a source of caprylic and capric acids) helps give me an extra boost and stimulates my metabolism. I’ve recently been trying the new one from St. Francis Herb Farm but I’ve also enjoyed NOW and Bulletproof formulas.
Like many (most?) people, I struggle with energy levels (see above re: coffee!) and I also have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) which makes me feel like I’m battling my own hormones a lot. Maca, known as Peruvian Ginseng, is great for adding energy to my day and it can help balance the effects of hormones like testosterone. I’m rocking the Organika Maca right now, and add it regularly to my smoothies.
Finally, the big one, probiotics!! This is what I consider the key to my vitamin regimen and the one item I am pledging to remember to take every day. If you want to learn more about probiotics, check out this great blog by Dr. Morissette. For me, probiotics are one of the supplements I try the most brands and I haven’t found “the one” yet but if you’re curious, I’m trying Renew Life’s Critical Care – and in 30 days I hope to finally finish a bottle!
If you’re open to sharing, we’d love to hear your routine in the comments below!