I'm a Nutritionist, and This Is What's in My Medicine Cabinet
A health expert shares her must-have wellness products.
Having the proper supplies on hand can be a lifesaver when you're in need. A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults revealed that the average American's medicine cabinet is stocked with 15 different products—and haven't you often wondered what other people keep in theirs? Lisa Richards, CNC, nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet, opened hers up for Best Life, sharing four of her favorite items and explaining why she keeps them at the ready.
Read on to find out what products are in this nutritionist's medicine cabinet, and whether they might be a good addition to yours. (Just be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new health regimen.)
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Probiotics are living microorganisms that are incredibly healthy for you, particularly when it comes to your gut health. Other health benefits of probiotics include a more robust immune system, reduced cholesterol, cancer prevention, treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, and improved metabolism, according to a 2016 study published in Tropical Life Sciences Research. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods, certain beverages, dietary supplements, and beauty products.
Richards says probiotics are a staple in her medicine cabinet. "Probiotics are a great addition to anyone's health regimen, despite age, gender, or health status," says Richards. "They help with digestion, reduce inflammation, boost your immunity, and maintain a healthy flora balance in your gut. I recommend three probiotic strains: L. plantarum, L. paracasei, and L. acidophilus."
Choosing the right probiotics can be tricky, with so many different products available. Richards says it's critical to ensure that your probiotic contains at least 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of bacteria and various probiotic strains. Also, watch out for probiotics that have added ingredients, such as sweeteners or gums, as she says they can cause gastrointestinal inflammation.
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Vitamin D (sometimes called the sunshine vitamin) is essential for good health, and is vital to several critical bodily functions. For example, vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, improves bone health, promotes healthy muscle contraction, and strengthens your immune system. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency has become a global issue. Approximately one billion people worldwide are deficient in the nutrient, including 35 percent of U.S. adults.
"I keep vitamin D in my medicine cabinet for its immune support benefits," says Richards. "Vitamin D's active form will help mitigate the body's inflammatory response and boost the body's immune cell production. In addition, vitamin D is essential to allowing your body to use the calcium it's given to support bone growth and health. When vitamin D levels are low, this process is not as efficient and your bones can become weak."
Zinc is known for boosting your immune system so it can fend off harmful bacteria and viruses—but that's not all it's good for. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), adequate zinc intake is needed at all life stages, in order to help your body synthesize proteins and DNA (the building blocks of cells), aid in the wound-healing process, and promote healthy growth and development.
Richards keeps her medicine cabinet well-stocked with this vital nutrient, as zinc deficiency can lead to serious health complications. "Zinc deficiencies are linked to stunted growth and have also been used to prevent or treat eye disease, diarrhea, ADHD, and acne, and to support immune function. This mineral can be taken daily, and is a great bonus to a regular supplement regimen," Richards explains.
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Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that's essential for boosting energy and helping with red blood cell/DNA formation, reports the Harvard School of Public Health. Not getting enough B12 can lead to pernicious anemia, a health condition characterized by extreme fatigue, weakness, and mood disorders. In addition, B12 is vital for synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin—the "feel good" chemical responsible for mood regulation.
"Adding B12 to your diet or vitamin regimen can improve energy and overall mood," says Richards. "I add B12 to my daily supplement regimen as a simple and effective way to increase my energy." Not sure when to take this supplement? "It's best absorbed when taken early in the day, ideally with breakfast, to improve absorption and efficacy," she explains.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. Always consult your healthcare provider directly when it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have.