A Day in the Life of My Supplements

supplements before breakfast

To ensure that you won’t give your future naturopathic doctor the stink eye when she prescribes you a bunch of supplements, here’s my mother load. I snapped these photos 3 days before my clinical licensing examinations, so I was a little OCD about taking everything. I also had an extra supplement in there that I took only for brain juice, which I’ll talk about soon.

This photo project was a fun study break to the monotony of studying all day long. I didn’t have many minutes to spare, so all the photos were quickly taken on my Android instead of my digital SLR.

Before breakfast, I had two Gaia Thyroid Support capsules (caps), one Ashwagandha cap by Ayush Herbs, and one Bacopa Plus cap, also by Ayush Herbs. The Gaia Thyroid Support caps are the two in the middle. I took these pills as soon as I woke up in the morning, on an empty stomach. I regularly take the Thyroid Support because I’ve been borderline hypothyroid for a number of years, and I regularly use the Ashwagandha as an adrenal supplement. The Bacopa Plus was the extra pill that I don’t normally take. I took it to better my memory since I had been feeling brain dead from studying so much.

supplements before breakfast

Still before breakfast, I had some glutamine powder by Vital Nutrients that I mixed in water and slurped up with a straw. I take glutamine powder to help heal my intestines in hopes to get rid some of my food reactions.

supplements before breakfast

With breakfast that day, I took digestive enzymes with HCl (Panplex 2-Phase by ITI), vitamin C, a prenatal pill (Ultra Natal by Biogenesis), two Quercetin + Nettle caps by Designs for Health, and a Multi-B Complex cap by ITI. The digestive enzymes with HCl help my body break down food so that I can absorb it better. The vitamin C was for allergies and to also keep abdominal pain at bay since the two Quercetin + Nettle caps didn’t work as well for me as my straight up quercetin from Scientific Botanicals. Speaking of quercetin, it’s the first thing that made my daily abdominal pain go away. I took the prenatal pill in place of a multivitamin because I was still nursing Re’uth, and since one serving is divided into 3 pills, you’ll see it two more times (quality vitamins are almost always packaged in more than one pill). The Multi-B Complex was for energy and stamina in the face of severe adrenal fatigue.

supplements with lunch

With lunch, I had the enzymes and HCl again, my prenatal pill again (which I labeled MVM in the picture and stands for multivitamin and mineral), two caps of Glucosamine & Chondroitin by Vital Nutrients, the Quercetin + Nettles again, and vitamin D. One time when I was a distance runner I decided to see how long I could wear a pair of running shoes until they gave out. I did it without orthotics and completely killed my knees, so that’s why I take it. Knee pain as a result of joint wear and tear. I don’t always take the vitamin D everyday, especially in the summer. But because I am always below normal on my labs and I live in Seattle and I didn’t want to get sick right before my exams, I took it.

supplements in afternoon

Around 4:00pm and on an empty stomach, I took a second Gaia Thyroid Support cap, a second Ashwagandha cap, and a second Bacopa Plus cap.

supplements with dinner

With dinner, I had the enzymes and HCl tablet, my prenatal pill, two Quercetin + Nettles caps, vitamin C, and Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oil. I regularly take cod liver oil for its omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory. It helps to decrease my food reactions and keeps my skin looking pretty. Plus, your body’s omega-3 stores get depleted when you’re nursing a little one.

chocolate covered espresso beans after dinner

A little after dinner, I had some Theobroma cacao and Coffea arabica chewable supplements. While these plants were part of my naturopathic medical program, this is just my fancy way of saying I had some chocolate covered espresso beans. GOTCHA! Totally not a supplement. They’re too sugary to be medicinal, and I ate them for some extra zing to study that evening. In case you’re curious, we bought them at Trader Joe’s and I wish they made them with half the sugar.

supplements before bed

Right before bed, I had an effervescent calcium magnesium powder by Thorne that I mixed in water and drank with a straw. It’s sour! As you can see by the little fingers, someone woke up and I did all of this one handed. I don’t take the calcium everyday.

What wasn’t pictured from this day is a probiotic. I usually take a Therbiotic Complete probiotic by Klaire Labs everyday with dinner. I don’t know why I didn’t take it with dinner on this particular day.

How many pills did I swallow? Twenty five. It would have been 28 if I remembered my probiotic at dinner and took a second dose of the glucosamine and chondroitin.

It’s true that naturopathic doctors can prescribe a lot of supplements, but ideally, we don’t want you taking them just as much as you don’t want to be swallowing 25 pills a day. I certainly don’t want to be swallowing 25 pills a day for the rest of my life. But we live in a ruined world with ruined bodies. Supplements have helped my body function when it had nothing, and they also serve as prevention. The cod liver oil prevents cardiovascular disease and my calcium supplement prevents osteoporosis. My health wouldn’t be where it is today without them.

This post has stimulated speculation over how much we actually spend on supplements, so I hope to write a post on that in the near future.

Just because I take these supplements for the very little reasons given doesn’t mean that you should. Do not take these supplements because you see me doing it. Consult your naturopathic physician prior to starting any supplements.

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8 Responses

  1. Dr. Erika

    Holy Moly that’s a lot of supplements!

    It’s so funny, I’m totally a supplement minimalist, and when I started my practice I prescribed 3 different supplements, MAX for my patients. Then I realized that we do, indeed, live in a toxic world, and that for a lot of folks it takes a LOT more work than 3 at a time. That said, I totally agree what you say – it is always my goal to uncover the underlying cause – when that is done (and the body is healed) then there is NO more need for supplements! (Except maybe a multivitamin and a probiotic).


    Dr. Archer

    Yes. I totally agree. We need to find the underlying cause rather than just throwing a bunch of supplements at the symptoms. I’m hoping that once my life regulates without medical school, a regular schedule, and routine decent sleep, that my adrenal glands won’t need so much support anymore. Without all the stress of school, my digestion and food reactions just may get a lot better too! I think they’ll be dropping off as time goes on. Some NDs don’t even think people need multivitamins unless one has maldigestion.


  2. Allison

    Hi Dr. Archer – I’ve been following your blog for several months now. I’m not local to your area but I am treating myself for IC alongside a Chinese Herbalist/Accupuncturist who specializes in the condition and I was wondering if I could pick your brain on things like supplements, diet, etc. I know so many different things work for different people and with all the options out there it is easy to get overwhelmed. I’m still trying to find something that works for me and I’d love to hear more about your approach! Please feel free to e-mail me if you have the time, or if it works for you I would be more than willing to set up some kind of phone consultation and would be happy to compensate you as though for an in-person consult!

    Thank you!


  3. Emily

    Hey Dr. Archer! I have a quick question. Why do you take cod liver oil for Omega-3’s instead of Fish Oil? I’ve been taking Omega-3 Fish Oil (the pure, real stuff) for about 10 years, since my cholesterol levels were raised due to hypothyroidism & pre-diabetes. I use it for preventative measures to avoid that from happening again. Would it be better to take cod liver oil instead? Just curious. Thanks! -Emily


    Dr. Archer Atkins

    Hi Emily,

    There’s not a hard core scientific reason for why I take cod liver oil over regular fish oil. It’s just what I started taking once I started taking fish oil, and I’ve liked the results, so I’ve stuck to it. Cod liver oil comes from a bigger fish, there is a higher potential for it being contaminated with mercury. However, there are only a few brands that I trust in terms of how they purify heavy metals from the fish oil. Cod liver oil is also higher in vitamin A than regular fish oil, and since I’ve had fat malabsorption, it’s helped me get a little extra vitamin A, too. So you may only need the cod liver oil if you’re looking for some extra vitamin A.


  4. Lena

    Hi Dr. Archer,
    My sister-in-law who used to be your patient recently told me about your blog (I’m not from your area). I want to take digestive enzymes for heartburn and to help absorb food better, but the disclaimer on some of the brands says to not use if you have gastritis. I was diagnosed with gastritis a long time ago, but there was no lab work done to back it up. They also thought I had an ulcer, but the endoscopy turned up negative. I used to take drugs for heartburn but have gone off them recently with a healthier diet and probiotics. I still occasionally feel something at night that’s not as bad as it used to be, but is kind of like heartburn. Could I try the digestive enzymes, and where do you get them from? I was looking on http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/.


  5. 33Guillermo

    I must say it was hard to find your blog in google.
    You write interesting content but you should rank your blog higher in search engines.
    If you don’t know how to do it search on youtube: how to rank a website Marcel’s way


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