You know how holiday season can take a toll on our health – eating at improper times, drinking perhaps more than usual, sleeping late, etc. I have put together this Holiday Essentials Supplements Guide with some of my most recommended supplements to help you take on the holiday season.
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Sleep & Stress
Between all the holiday activities it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Check out what I recommend for relaxation.
L-theanine, an amino acid found primarily in green tea leaves, can help promote relaxation and sleep. A study of individuals with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) found that 250 mg of L-theanine administered daily over 8 weeks decreased anxiety, depressive symptoms, and sleep disturbances. Another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examined the effects of l-theanine supplementation on healthy adults when confronted with a stressor. L-theanine reduced both the subjective stress response and the salivary cortisol response to the stressor, supporting the anti-stress effects of L-theanine.
Melatonin, a neurotransmitter-like compound produced by the pineal gland, is synthesized from tryptophan through a series of reactions. These reactions are stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light, which suggests that melatonin is involved in the regulation of the body’s sleep cycle, the circadian rhythm, and other body functions.Research has shown that melatonin improves sleep quality, increases total sleep time and decreases sleep onset latency (SOL). A meta-analysis found that melatonin supplementation of 5 mg administered at 10 pm shortened time to sleep and increased sleep duration, indicating improved sleep quality. The recommended dose of effectiveness ranged from 0.3 to 10.0 mg/day depending on your individual needs.
During the holiday season, most of us are guilty of a little indulgence. Unfortunately, for many of us, indulging in certain foods can cause digestive discomfort and indigestion.
DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), may help soothe indigestion due to its anti-inflammatory and protective effects. DGL is a form of licorice extract that contains no glycyrrhizin and is safe for those individuals concerned about hypertension.One study found that supplementing 75 mg of licorice root extract twice daily for 30 days resulted in significant improvement in the symptoms of individuals suffering from functional dyspepsia, also known as non-ulcer dyspepsia. Research has also demonstrated licorice extract to be as effective as bismuth (the main ingredient in Pepto Bismol) in H. Pylori eradication.
Digestive enzymes are naturally secreted in the stomach and small intestine to help you digest your food. During the holidays, taking additional enzymes can give your digestive system a little extra help to get through those large meals and decadent foods.Supplemental digestive enzymes often used to address various gastrointestinal disorders, help break down proteins, carbohydrates and lipids to their absorbable forms. Studies show that supplementation with pancreatic enzymes reduced symptoms of bloating, gas and fullness after a high calorie, high-fat meal (hello holidays!). When choosing an enzyme supplement, it’s important to note that broad-spectrum digestive enzymes may be more effective for overall digestion whereas single-enzyme supplements, such as lactase alone, are targeted for specific needs.
Your liver is involved in hundreds of body functions, including balancing hormones, metabolizing fats, and detoxification. Whether you missed a few hours of shut-eye or had an extra glass of wine (or two), B vitamins and Milk Thistle can support your liver and help you recover from the holidays.
Milk Thistle, a plant originating from Europe, has long been used for its hepatoprotective (liver protecting) effects. Its ability to prevent damage to the liver is thought to be primarily due to the antioxidant and free radical scavenging effects of silymarin and silybin, active constituents of milk thistle. Research has shown that silymarin decreases liver enzymes, ALT and AST, in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease patients.
B vitamins are essential to the activation of liver enzymes and proper functioning of liver detoxification pathways. For example, B vitamins, particularly B6, B12, and folate, are essential to the methyltransferase pathway, part of the liver’s Phase 2 detoxification.
You’re healthy all year, then the holidays roll around and suddenly… Hello, colds and flu! Sound familiar? Stress, loss of sleep, and indulging in certain foods, such as rich meals and sugary treats, can leave you vulnerable to illness. The good news is supplementing with probiotics or elderberry may help you feel better faster.
With over 70% of the human immune system residing in the gut, it’s no wonder that probiotics, well-known for keeping our digestive system happy, also play a role in keeping our immune system healthy.
Probiotics help modulate the immune response by influencing the actions of dendritic cells, macrophages, and T and B lymphocytes. Research has shown that probiotics may help prevent or decrease the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold. Multi-strain probiotics, in particular, have demonstrated beneficial effects on immune health and greater efficacy than single-strain options.
When you’re starting to feel a little under the weather, Elderberry, also known as Sambucus nigra, maybe your new go-to remedy. Often found in syrup form, Elderberry is a great choice for adults and children.
Elderberry extract has been shown to be antiviral and has immunostimulatory effects, increasing inflammatory cytokine production. Clinical research shows that some elderberry extracts might improve flu-like symptoms and reduce the duration of colds by four days due to its high concentration of flavonoids and other beneficial vitamins, minerals, phytosterols, and carotenoids.
In the end, prevention is the key, so be sure to get plenty of rest, minimize rich and sugary foods (when possible), do daily deep breathing to combat stress, and always remember…it’s a joyous time of year!
REFERENCES: Inspired by capable and knowledgeable clinicians at the FullScript Pharmacy – to-go place at my clinic and your home. https://fullscript.com/blog/holiday-supplement-essentials
Dr. Maya SarkisyanDecember 23, 2018