Choosing Supplements – A Pharmacist’s Perspective

I don’t know about you, but I am  bombarded every day with “studies” and “breaking news” about different supplements and companies. Most of you know that I am a Pharmacist, although I no longer practice traditionally. Honestly, in Pharmacy school, we were pretty much told to steer clear of recommending supplements because you could not be sure of the purity and quality of their ingredients. I still always recommended that patients take a multi-vitamin, but I never recommended anything else because I just couldn’t be sure if it was a reputable product or not.  Then, I became a holistic health coach. I quickly learned that EVERYONE wanted to know… What is the best brand of vitamin for me to take? What about brands of protein powder?

Now, if you no me personally at all, you know that I don’t make decision off the cuff. I have to research, think, and process. The same thing happened here! I was not about to just recommend a brand that was popular with my friends. I wanted to make sure it came from a quality company that had a proven track record, had GOOD science to back it up (more on that later), that I was willing to take AND let my children take (BIG DEAL to me).


Supplements are NOT regulated by the FDA, so I DO NOT recommend going into the pharmacy, health food store or your favorite big box store and just picking up the cheapest thing. So, how should you choose? Start by asking a few questions…

How long has the supplement company been in the nutritional supplement business? What is their track record with recalled products?

The company I work with has been around for over 60 years. No products have ever been recalled.

Are the supplements synthetic, crystalline (extract) or cold-pressed?

You want natural, cold-pressed! If they are not cold-pressed, they have been heated with kills some of the enzymes needed for the vitamins to do their job.

How do you know if it’s synthetic? Check the label and avoid those that use the dl-form, for example dl-alpha tocopherol for Vitamin E or thiamine for Vitamin B.  Look for the letter d in front of Vitamin E for example – “d-alpha-tocopherol,” not the lab created kind, “dl-alpha-tocopherol,” which is cheaper to produce. It is more biologically active in its “d” form. So, look for d-alpha-tocopherol instead.

Are their supplements made by their company under the guidance of their staff or are they made by a third party with their label added to the bottle?

What are the ingredients in their products and where did they originate from?

This is especially important for things like omega-3’s. You don’t want those coming from  fish living in waters contaminated with heavy metals.

How about testing on ingredients and final products? Do they test the ingredients all along the process, at the end or rely on vendors for testing? Is each product proven to be free from pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals and lead?

The US Pharmacopeia requires over 80 tests.  The company I work with tests for up to 350 chemical contaminants, including pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, solvent residues, etc.

Are the supplements balanced?

There are certain nutrients which need to co-exist at a certain ratio in order to be absorbed properly and work most effectively. How do you know if you are getting this?  Make sure you choose a reputable company!

Are they bioavailable? By this I mean, do they dissolve? Do they reach their destination still alive? If not, you are not reaping the benefits.

Which supplements do you use? Do you have questions about them?




Spicy Soup

I need another name for this recipe? Any ideas?

I modified this from another recipe. It was still a bit spicy, so if your family prefers less heat, just decrease the amount of chili powder and/or leave the cayenne out. I put a little bit of almond milk in the kids to decrease the heat.


1 onion, diced

4 ribs celery, sliced

2 bell peppers, diced

1/2 pound frozen chopped spinach

16 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained

15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

3 T. tomato paste

4 cups water or vegetable broth, divided

1.25 tsp. garlic powder

1.5 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder (I used 3/4 tsp. but next time I will use less)

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. salt (can decrease if using vegetable broth or to taste)

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne (or to taste)

Water saute vegetables (except spinach) in 1 cup of the water until crisp tender. Add all other ingredients and remaining water. Let simmer ~30 minutes. A good bit of the water/vegetable broth will evaporate.

You could probably do this in the  slow-cooker, but you will likely want to use less water/broth.


Some of my favorite things

Hello! It’s January. It’s cold and dreary outside. The kids (and adults) might be feeling a little cooped up. Let’s focus on something positive.

“These are a few of my favorite things.”

My journaling Bible. I love being able to ponder and think about what God’s word is telling me and writing or drawing about it. I am NOT an artist though!


Singing with my family.

Podcasts. We spend a good bit of time in the car driving from various church, homeschool, and extra-curricular activities. We LOVE music, but I also enjoy listening to Tim Hawkins (hilarious), Focus on the Family, The Runner’s World Show, and The Plant Trainer’s Podcast.

LuLaRoe. Seriously. I have a friend who sells it, and I have scored some very cute skirts and shirts and the leggings are so warm and comfy. I even wear them on outside, cold runs as an underlayer.

Miss Spunky started horse riding lessons. I think we may be in trouble. She’s in love. She has always loved horses. We sometimes ride on vacation. We’re not experienced at all, but it’s wonderful when they find something that they really enjoy.

“Mom, when do we get to do it again? Tomorrow?”

I am just finishing leading a 10-day sugar detox (reset) with a great group of ladies. As they move forward, I shared some of my favorite (or my kids’ favorites) refined-sugar free options with them. Aldi’s organic marinara (only 4 grams of sugar – other brands have 10 or more), Aldi’s ketchup (no HFCS), Webber Bbq sauce (still high in sugar so use sparingly but no HFCS), dates, coconut sugar (my preferred baking sugar – glycemic index of around 30 compared to regular sugar of about 60), unsweetened applesauce, Van’s GF crackers, and Aldi’s quinoa pasta.


What are a few of your favorite things?



Choose Wisely

It’s the New Year and most people have health & wellness goals. If you know me at all, you know that I am passionate about helping people to prevent and reverse chronic lifestyle diseases. So, I think that is GREAT that people want to improve their health!

However, I have been seeing a lot of misinformation/promotion of things that, quite frankly, I would not touch with a long stick or give to my children. So, I am going to get on my soap box for just a moment.

Just keep a few things in mind…

  • Quick fixes generally don’t work.
  • Make lifestyle changes that you can stick with for the LONG-TERM.
  • Not all supplement companies are created equal. Do your research and choose wisely. How long has company been around? What kind of testing do they do? Do they have QUALITY studies to back up what they are saying? What about product recalls? Where do they source their ingredients?
  • Low-fat, fat-free, 100-calorie pack, etc… doesn’t mean it’s good for you. These are marketing tools.
  • Don’t believe everything you read or hear. There are many supposed “experts” out there.
  • Just because there was a “study” does not mean that it is gospel truth. Anyone these days can do a “study.” You need to ask yourself if it was a quality study. Was it double, blind? Was it done over a long period of time? Was it published in a QUALITY journal?

I know I am usually very upbeat and positive, but I want to make sure people are receiving all of the information. Also, I am not trying to say that I know everything. I just want you to do your own research. End of soap box.

I am happy to chat with you if you have questions. Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of health/wellness information out there?




Goals – Part 2

I would like to share some of my 2017 goals with you!

Spiritual/Bible study/Service

  • I am in the process of choosing a study book to guide my personal Bible study for the New Year. Any suggestions?
  • With the kids – We will continue our study of the Bible text and I plan on singing songs of praise with them regularly. A friend recently recommended doing something called “The Moral Inventory” as well. I’m going to join them in doing this too.
    • Gratitude – Write down 3 things you’re thankful for daily, different things every day.
    • Write down 1 thing that was bad about your day. Why was it bad? At the root of most of these things – selfishness.
    • Goal – Write a goal for the next day surrounding the bad thing that happened to you.
  • Visit, call, or send a note to at least 1 person per week who could use encouragement.


  • Aim for at least 2 weekends, just us, during the year. The first one is already scheduled! It doesn’t have to be extravagant or even away from home.


  • Early summer 1/2 marathon – new PR!
  • Still considering a fall marathon.
  • Painful elimination race with Hunky Husband and my awesome (new personal trainer) sister.
  • I will probably race a few 5Ks and another 10K with my girl!
  • I have some specific strength goals – 15 standard, quality push-ups, 3 minute plank, 1 pull-up, and 1 chin-up.


I have homeschool and business goals as well, but I will leave it at that for today.

Happy New Year!

I cannot believe it is January 1, 2017. CRAZY. We have enjoyed lots of family time over the past week or two. This homeschool Mama has also thoroughly enjoyed having a little bit of time off of school! We are going to start again on Wednesday. Little Lady’s 10th birthday is on Tuesday and she requested that we take her birthday off. Of course! That is one of the perks of homeschooling.

I am also hosting a Free 10-day Sugar Detox that begins tomorrow. It’s not too late to sign up if you are interested!


On our meal plan this week…

Sunday – “Refried” bean tacos on tortillas or lettuce wraps

Monday – Leftover Minestrone – This is a different recipe than my usual one. My mom made it for our Christmas celebration. It is super yummy. We leave out the pasta.

Tuesday – Little Lady has requested to go out!

Wednesday – Sheperd’s pie – This is a new recipe. I will add beans or lentils for protein.

Thursday – Crock pot stuffed peppers and roasted sweet potatoes

Friday – Baked potato bar with fixins’ and salads

Saturday – Black  Bean burgers on sprouted grains or lettuce leaf wraps, coleslaw, roasted potatoes

What’s on your meal plan for the week? How was your New Year’s?