Ideally, our diet would provide us with everything we need, as our bodies are best at absorbing and using nutrients from food, but this isn’t always possible. Even those of us eating a high vibrational diet rich in micronutrients could be subject to deficiencies. Knowing how saturated the world of supplements is and how challenging it remains to navigate—the ingredients and claims, I’ve put together an exhaustive supplement glossary.
Supplements—a definitive guide
The term for edible plant extracts—often herbs or mushrooms found to help manage stress by strengthening our internal functions. They can stabilise mood, improve focus, and promote vitality. See also, Ashwagandha, Ginseng, Reishi and Schisandra.
Concern—MOOD, FOCUS, STRESS
It’s incredible for digestion, detoxification and muscle and joint function, among other things. Ingesting supplements with Aloe Vera may have a laxative effect to help ease constipation and potentially gut inflammation. Aloe Vera makes a great addition to a smoothie, keep a bottle at your disposal. You can drink it straight from the bottle as well.
Recommended product—Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Juice
An adaptogenic herb traditionally used in Ayurvedic healing to help reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue, supporting hormone balance, emotional balance and brain function. An immune system builder and overall invigorator, Ashwagandha has also been linked to reducing inflammation.
Particularly useful for stress relief and an overall sense of well-being, we love to mix it with hot water or nut milk to unwind after a long, full day.
Concern—STRESS, ENERGY, MOOD
Abundant in beneficial compounds—notably berberine, an antioxidant, traditionally Barberries are used to treat digestive issues, infections, and skin conditions such as acne.
Barberries also contain zinc, manganese, and copper—trace minerals, all of which play significant roles in immunity and disease prevention.
Concern—GUT HEALTH, IMMUNITY
Recommended product—Nature’s Answer Barberry Root
One of the oldest medicinal herbs, Chamomile, can be taken orally to help with anxiety, and digestion issues, easing tension and insomnia. It may also be used topically to aid with wound healing. Brew the flowers in hot water, steep to desired strength to calm your nervous system and soothe digestion.
Concern—MOOD, GUT HEALTH
Recommended product—Nature’s Answer Chamomile Extract
An essential trace mineral, Chromium, releases energy from cells and is required for proper receptor functioning necessary for carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism by potentiating insulin action, vital in regulating blood glucose.
Recommended product—Solgar Chromium Picolinate
Citicoline may increase a brain chemical called phosphatidylcholine—a major constituent of the grey matter of brain tissue, which is vital for brain function and may aid in memory decline.
Cells use this naturally-occurring antioxidant for growth and maintenance. As you age, levels of CoQ10 decrease, which may cause bodily fatigue, so a supplement with CoQ10 may help restore energy.
Recommended product— NOW Foods, Co-Enzyme B-Complex
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is used to make connective tissue. Think of collagen as a tightly organised network of fibres that loosen, becoming disorganised with age and environmental exposure, causing wrinkles on the skin’s surface. With limited evidence behind ingesting collagen to increase the collagen in your skin, seek ingredients that promote your body's natural collagen production while hydrating your skin from the inside out.
Recommended product—Moon Juice - Collagen Protect
Dandelion [Leaf + Root]
The root and leaf of Dandelion are both classic tonic bitters that nourish and help strengthen the liver. Dandelion helps trigger digestive secretions by stimulating bile production and cooling liver heat when it is overtaxed.
Concern—GUT HEALTH, SKIN
Recommended product—Nature's Answer, Dandelion Root
Known for its protective properties, Echinacea preparations have been promoted for topical use for wound healing and skin irritations and as immune support, with studies finding Echinacea stimulates the immune system. If you feel a cold or flu coming, an antiviral like Echinacea [or Elderberry—see below] can be sprinkled into tea, coffee, or other recipes.
Recommended product—Nature’s Way Echinacea
Ancient civilisations utilised Elderberry to fortify and build the immune system, to treat fever and rheumatism. High in Vitamin C, Elderberry is a botanical loaded with potent antioxidants—flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, isorhamnetin and anthocyanins. Black Elderberry extracts and flower infusions work to reduce the severity and length of Influenza, restoring the immune system and developing resilience in the body.
Recommended product—California Gold Nutrition Black Elderberry Syrup
Quite possibly the most used aromatic in the world, and with good reason, Fennel Seed has been utilised for centuries, primarily for its ability to treat indigestion, stomachache and cramping. It seems to have anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties and may work to relax the colon—one to kindle your digestive fire.
Recommended product—Organic Fennel Seed
A nootropic, in traditional Chinese medicine, ginkgo seeds were used to open “channels” of energy to different organ systems, including the kidneys, liver, brain and lungs. Ginkgo Biloba contains high levels of flavonoids and terpenoids—compounds known for their potent antioxidant effects, supporting healthy mitochondrial and nerve cell function, memory and brain performance.
Recommended product—The Nue Co. NOOTRO-FOCUS
Highly regarded for its immune-boosting properties, Ginseng has been used for centuries in Asia and North America to improve memory and concentration. There are 11 types of Ginseng, which all belong to the “Panax” family, meaning “all heal” in Greek. Taken to boost the immune system to prevent infection and disease, early research shows it may also improve concentration and memory.
Recommended product—Herb Pharm Asian Ginseng
Also known as Indian Pennywort, the leaves and stems have been utilised for centuries for wound healing, including the skin—clearing inflammation and the toxicity associated with acne. Taken internally, Gotu Kola is used to treat respiratory infections, improve blood circulation and improve mental clarity.
Recommended product—Nature’s Way Gotu Kola Herb
Necessary for red blood cell production, there are two types of iron—heme iron which comes from animal-based foods, and non-heme iron, which comes from plants. While heme iron is generally considered more bioavailable than non-heme iron, obtaining sufficient iron requires a thoughtful approach to your diet, learning how to unlock bioavailability. If you think you are lacking energy or mental clarity, consider supplementing.
An evergreen tree whose berries may be used in supplements to help treat bloating, heartburn, joint and muscle pain, and urinary tract infections. Juniper Berries are rich in Vitamin C and have antioxidant benefits.
Recommended product—Frontier Co-Op Whole Juniper Berries
An expectorant and a demulcent that soothes mucous membranes and relieves symptoms of a sore throat and cough, Liquorice is an herb whose root can be used as a dietary supplement to treat digestive issues, coughs, bacterial and viral infections and menopausal symptoms. Liquorice contains glycyrrhizin—a compound with extremely effective antiviral properties, which fight off influenza and strains of the avian flu virus.
Recommended product—Nature’s Answer Licorice Root
This mineral helps convert the macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and proteins) into bioavailable energy. Magnesium promotes elimination, relaxing G.I tract muscles, initiating peristalsis—the wave-like motion your intestines use to move matter out of the body. Magnesium has been shown to naturally lower cortisol levels, reducing stress. Magnesium is notably used for soothing sore muscles, encouraging better sleep and fighting inflammation. When choosing a supplement, seek forms that are more easily absorbed—Magnesium Aspartate, Magnesium Citrate, Magnesium Lactate, and Magnesium Chloride.
Responsible for regulating blood sugar, perking up libido and alleviating PMS, Manganese helps the body form connective tissue, bones, blood-clotting factors, and sex hormones. It also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation and is vital for healthy brain and nerve function.
Recommended product—Solgar Chelated Manganese
This root can be used to reduce skin, throat, and stomach irritation, including cough and indigestion—one for the medicine cabinet.
Concern—IMMUNITY, GUT HEALTH
A building tonic herb rich in protein, iron, vitamins and minerals. Nettles are also high in histamines, serotonin, and quercetin. When dried or processed, it becomes an amazing antihistamine that not only quickly settles allergies but also deeply nourishes.
Recommended product—Nature’s Answer Nettle Leaf
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These are your essential fats—the body can’t make them so you must get them from food. Plant sources high in Omega-3 include vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and leafy vegetables. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and are celebrated for their ability to treat eczema and rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, prevent the blood from clotting easily, providing cardiovascular system and blood support.
These are the beneficial bacteria that support everything from energy to mood and memory to calorie absorption. Prebiotic fibres are processed in the colon, metabolised, releasing Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs). These SFCAs heal intestinal wall issues, reduce inflammation and mitigate harmful microbes and parasites from proliferating and hindering body systems—including your skin, ensuring your immune, intestinal T cells remain in homeostasis. SFCAs cross the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain from circulating pathogens. Since fibre produces these vital SFCAs, it remains a nutritional tool to balance immunity. Aim to add 3 to 5 colours on your plate at each meal and if you’re unsure, supplement for support.
Concern—GENERAL VITALITY, GUT HEALTH, SKIN
Found naturally in food and often in supplements, these contain living microorganisms that act as food for human microflora or “good bacteria” in the gut, promoting balance. Up to 70 percent of the body’s immune cells reside in the gut; maintaining healthy gut flora may help support your immune system, preventing seasonal colds and flu when taken daily. By fortifying the gut lining, probiotics also help prevent toxic food matter from entering the bloodstream and prompting an inflammatory response—a condition known as “leaky gut” that many experts believe is the cause of autoimmune symptoms and disorders. When choosing a probiotic supplement, seek one that contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains.
Concern—GENERAL VITALITY, GUT HEALTH, SKIN
One of the richest antioxidants in the human diet, Quercetin has unique inflammation-fighting power—it is a plant flavonoid and natural antihistamine. Found in citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, sage and tea. Dark cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and bilberries, are also high in Quercetin and other flavonoids. This powerful flavonoid stabilises our cells like crazy and uniquely protects from outside stressors like free radicals.
Concern—GENERAL VITALITY, IMMUNITY
Recommended product—Natural Factors Quercetin
Known as the Queen Healer Mushroom, Reishi is the most studied plant on earth. Prized for its ability to stabilise the body while improving its ability to resist stress. One of the main components found in Reishi is ganoderic acid. These acids help alleviate common allergies by inhibiting histamine release while improving oxygen utilisation and liver function.
Recommended product—Sun Potion Organic Reishi Powder
An adaptogen and a herbal wake up call, Rhodiola reduces fatigue and sharpens focus. This traditional Taoist herb improves the brain’s ability to absorb oxygen, leading to mental clarity, creativity and stamina. It may aid in managing anxiety and depression.
Recommended product—The Nue Co. Nootro Focus
Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil
This powerful plant is the purest form of Omega-7 on earth. Hand-harvested from wild berries in the Himalayas, this pure healer encourages heart health, supports your digestive tract and improves skin tone and texture.
Recommended product—SeaBuckWonders Organic Himalayan Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil
For over 2,000 years in China, Schizandra has been used and regarded as the ultimate balancer between yin and yang. Schizandra is also the ultimate adaptogen —balancing out your body’s fight or flight stress response. It is said to help calm the heart and spirit while simultaneously stimulating the brain, protecting the kidneys and liver, and detoxifying the lungs.
Concern—MOOD, GENERAL VITALITY
Recommended product—The Nue Co. Defence Drops
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Sweet Wormwood is referred to as Qing Hao, utilised for centuries to treat digestive complaints. This herb also supports cleansing and healthy elimination.
Recommended product—Nature's Answer Black Walnut & Wormwood
Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a nutrient your body needs but cannot produce to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen. Also a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C helps protect your cells against the harmful effects of environmental stressors and free radicals. Daily supplementation has been shown to lower the likelihood of colds and flu and reduce antibiotic dependency. People who supplement regularly can expect shorter colds.
Concern—IMMUNITY, GENERAL VITALITY, SKIN
Often called the sunshine vitamin because your body soaks it in from the sun’s rays—Vitamin D is synthesised in your skin. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble prohormone steroid with endocrine, paracrine and autocrine functions. The endocrine effects of vitamin D are mainly involved in serum calcium homeostasis. This immunity-boosting nutrient regulates mood, improves cognition and works with the parathyroid glands to produce calcium. Vitamin D3 is the preferable form, though challenging to source from plants. Deficiency in this vitamin is associated with increased susceptibility to infection, fatigue and slow wound healing.
Concern—IMMUNITY, GENERAL VITALITY, FOCUS, MOOD
One for keeping your skin supple and hydrated, Vitamin E strengthens skin membranes for optimal hydration. Like vitamins C and D, vitamin E contains antioxidant properties that protect cells against the impacts of free radicals, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Concern—GENERAL VITALITY, SKIN
Recommended product—Solgar Naturally Sourced Vitamin E
Also known as Niacin, Vitamin B3 (like all the B vitamins) aids with the conversion of food into fuel and, in higher amounts, may improve cholesterol. Deficiency may cause skin problems, memory loss, and digestive issues.
Concern—GENERAL VITALITY, GUT HEALTH, SKIN
Recommended product—Solgar Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Also known as Pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 is vital for healthy brain development and supporting the nervous and immune systems. This vitamin can also be used to ease morning sickness and nausea and may effectively relieve menstrual cramps.
Concern—GENERAL VITALITY, IMMUNITY, GENERAL VITALITY, FOCUS
Recommended product—Solgar Vitamin B6
Also known as Biotin, this vitamin plays a vital role in helping enzymes metabolise fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in food.
Recommended product—Solgar Biotin
Folate is the naturally occurring form of Vitamin B9 and is available as a supplement in the form of Folic Acid. Folate needs to be present in the body to help form DNA and RNA and to produce healthy red blood cells—vital during pregnancy. Folate deficiency is rare because it is found in many foods. However, Folic Acid (the supplement form) is better absorbed by the body.
Concern—GENERAL VITALITY, ENERGY, FOCUS
Recommended product—NOW Foods Folic Acid
Also known as Menaquinone, Vitamin K2 supports skin barrier function while working to reduce inflammation and is implicated in helping with skin conditions such as eczema and acne. Like Vitamin B12, supplementation is vital for those eating either 100% plant-based or lean heavily towards a vegan diet. For food sources, seek out natto, sauerkraut and tempeh, though potency depends on the fermentation process.
Concern—GENERAL VITALITY, SKIN
Recommended product—Thorne Research Vitamin D/K2
Whether you have adopted a vegan or lean heavily towards plant-based, everyone should monitor B12 intake. This vitamin is found in animal products, and so for anyone eating vegan, long-term B12 supplementation is vital—your body alone cannot produce B12. Vitamin B12 supports cellular energy production—is involved in metabolic pathways helping the body convert the food you eat into energy, working with the other B Complex vitamins to help transmute carbohydrates, fats, and protein into energy in the body. This vitamin is vital for a healthy nervous system, DNA production, and the creation of red blood cells.
Concern—GENERAL VITALITY, MOOD, FOCUS
Nature’s sedative, utilised for hundreds of years to soothe adrenals and calm the nervous system. Brew up a non-addictive sleep aid made with Valerian Root and Passion Flower.
If glowing skin is what you’re after, zinc is vital in achieving clear skin as it helps with skin elasticity integrity by fighting free radicals and controlling inflammation. And much like Vitamin C is required for immunity. Zinc is also a vital mineral necessary for numerous healthy bodily functions, supports wound healing and assists in DNA protein synthesis. Zinc is not stored for long periods in the body. Daily consumption is essential. And if you're deficient, that can lead to various conditions like rashes and lesions. When searching for supplements, opt for Zinc Picolinate—it’s the most absorbent form. Daily supplementation reduces colds and flu.
Concern—GENERAL VITALITY, IMMUNITY, SKIN
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek advice from your registered health provider before altering your diet.
When selecting supplements, it’s important to use brands you trust. The supplements industry is primarily an unregulated one, and more often than not, it’s incumbent upon the brands to ensure what they are providing high quality—trusting that the brand is testing raw ingredients and using good manufacturing practices.
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