Quality VS Quantity

Today we are going to talk about one of the most crucial game changers in my personal life.

Supplements.

Studies on the benefits of supplementation for mental health began as far back as the 1950s with Dr. Abram Hoffer. His studies began by introducing high doses of niacin (vitamin B3) into the daily regimens of patients with pellagra (a disease causing confusion, memory problems, and disorientation). This furthered in the 1960s when he conducted the first double blind study in the field of psychiatry, but this time his patients were schizophrenic. For this study Dr. Hoffer aimed to show that therapeutic doses of a natural substance could prevent or otherwise improve psychotic states. When published in 1962, his double blind study found that, out of 98 schizophrenic patients using megadoses of niacin, only 10% had hospital readmission over three years with zero suicides. The placebo group, on the other hand, had 50% readmission and 4 suicides. From this and several other studies on patients with ptsd, anxiety, insomnia, and depression, it became safe to say that there was a certain connection between nutrient deprivation and emotional inconsistencies. And Dr. Hoffer was not the only one to spark interest in this arena. From Hoffer to Pauling to Pfeiffer and beyond, many of our world's greatest minds and Nobel Prize winners have brought the significance of this connection to light, and I for one could not be more grateful. Though you may not truly understand the depth of my transformation over the past 11 years without having watched it occur, the difference between Shannon on medication, Shannon off medication without supplementation, and now Shannon going on 4 years with supplements is astounding. Looking back it makes me feel like a Pokemon evolution [caterpie -> metapod -> butterfree]. And this evolution likely would not have occurred without their influence in the field of psychiatry.


But I digress.


The most difficult thing I found about supplements is knowing which ones are worth your while and, quite frankly, worth your money. I DEFINITELY struggled with this problem, so if you are unsure of where to start you are not alone on your journey. Before I did much research into supplementation I was under the impression that, if it was on the market it had to be good quality... but boy was I wrong. Unfortunately, a lot of supplements (especially cheap ones) are low quality and yield very little result. Some may even have negative side effects ***cough cough, check the ingredients on your gummy vitamins, cough cough*** When it comes to quality supplements, lets take this example: if a doctor recommends that you start using an omega 3 supplement and you go to the supermarket to get a value pack of fish oil because it’s only $20 and will last you half the year, you will get what you pay for. Which, in reality, for what you paid you didn't get much value with that value pack based on quality of the product. You see, in order to get the proper amount of EPA and DHA omega 3s that your doctor likely intended for you, you would actually need to take more like 10-12 vitamins a day instead of the serving size of 1 that the bottle recommends. Some fish oils don’t even contain DHA or EPA omega 3s and also contain omega 6, which is NOT what you want. This is a large part of why so many people believe supplements don’t work. They choose poor quality supplements and don't use them properly.

Omega 3s are a big win for my brain in particular, so while we are on the topic, I would love to share a few ways to test the quality of your omegas:

  1. Put it in the freezer: I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but omega 3 fish oil should not freeze. So if you leave one in the freezer over night and it is rock solid in the morning, that bad boy is mostly water and is likely a quantity supplement rather than a quality one.

  2. Put it in a styrofoam cup with warm water: A high quality omega 3 supplement should eat through the styrofoam as it dissolves, if not it is either too low mg or it is diluted.

  3. Read the Facts: Does your fish oil contain EPA and DHA omega 3s? If not, that is a problem. When your Dr. tells you to take 2000mg of omega 3s they are typically referring to EPA/DHA. So if your supplement says "1000 mg per capsule" but only 100 of that is EPA/DHA, you need to be taking 20 vitamins a day. Personally that sounds a bit extreme, don't you think? My own prescribed therapeutic dosage is even higher than that, 3000-4000mg per day. And though I pay more than the average amazon purchase for my omega's, I only take 6 a day (2 with breakfast, lunch and dinner) instead of the alternative mouthful of vitamins.

When it came to picking my supplements, omega's included, I found that companies that operate internationally tend to have more public information on how their product is produced. Since they have to run through multiple government's health regulations and standards, I feel the quality is far more trustworthy than the average over the counter vitamin. Even the label laws these companies must follow are more regulated. Not only are you made aware of every ingredient including fillers, but you can also typically find where the supplement is being made and who is behind its development. The where is important to me because I wouldn't want, for example, a whey protein supplement from a cow that drank polluted water daily or a rice protein supplement grown in soil ridden with arsenic. The who has an even more prominent influence on the supplements I inevitably choose.


Dr. Lou Ignaro, Nobel Prize winner for his discovery of the nitric oxide molecule, was behind the development of the particular omega 3 I use daily. Not only did his accomplishments catch my eye, but after a colleague of mine had the privilege to meet with him face to face and experienced her own transformation from his advice, there was no way I wasn't going to try it for myself. It is oftentimes the relationship to the "who" that is behind the product that ultimately will gain my trust and loyalty. I ask myself, Have I met someone who has tried it? Did they use it as instructed and, if so, did it work for them? Does the science match the personal real life experience? In this scenario, my colleague bridged the relationship gap between myself and Dr. Lou Ignarro. I trusted her and she trusted him. The science matched her result and that sealed the deal for me.


At the end of the day, I would much rather make a purchase based on recommendation from someone I trust. If it worked for them it may as well be worth a shot even if the up front cost is more than the latest instagram trending supplement. I would rather pay more for a quality product being backed by someone I have a personal relationship with than pay nothing for a low quality product in high quantity that will inevitably become another reason for someone to say "supplements don't work." Quality beats quantity every time. Period.


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About Me

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Since 2018, I’ve been helping my clients find their optimal wellness through developing a deeper understanding of their habits and lifestyle choices. Whether your goal is to better your physical health, mental health, or both I aim to create a life balance that prioritizes your well-being and celebrates all aspects of your true self. It’s time to start nurturing your body and soul again.

#naturallybipolar

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