Vitamins & Supplements

  • Herbalist’s Spotlight: What supplements does our lead practitioner recommend for men?

    SunCare2-ArticleEvery day at Pharmaca, our health care practitioners recommend natural remedies for customers from all walks of life. We asked experienced herbalist Matthew B. to share his favorite supplements for men.

     Pure Encapsulations Phyto-ADR

    “I recommend this as a restorative tonic. The adoptogens in this vegetarian formulation provide comprehensive support for the adrenal glands, promoting physiological balance and improving resistance to stress. Who doesn’t need that?”

    Jarrow Prostate Optimizer

    “As men get older, this supplement—which is formulated with natural extracts and necessary fatty acids—becomes important for optimal prostate function and urinary flow.”

    Thorne Vitamin D (5,000 IU)

    “What I like about this particular Vitamin D supplement is that it’s the right dose and not a dangerous dose. It also has no hidden ingredients like lactose, BHT, BHA, sodium benzoate and sorbic acid, which can be detrimental to people with sensitivities.”

    Metagenics Highly Absorbable Magnesium Glycinate

    “For muscle tension and insomnia—another common complaint for men—I recommend magnesium glycinate. Not only is it highly absorbable, it’s not dependent on stomach acid for absorption, which means you won’t experience loose stools.”

    Natura InflamAway

    “Just the thing for weekend warriors and serious athletes. One of my favorites for inflammation, swelling and pain from physical trauma, InflamAway works at the cellular level to assist in the removal of damaging toxins and help balance the body’s inflammatory processes.”


  • Magnesium: A Cornerstone of Health

    Swiss chard RainbowMagnesium is essential for so many things: the beating of our heart, a positive mood, energy production, releasing tension…in other words, we can all benefit from magnesium!

    Identified in more than 300 processes inside the body, magnesium is a powerful building block that contributes to overall health and wellness in a unique way. A key player in physical and mental relaxation, neuromuscular transmission and energy, magnesium serves double duty both rebuilding the body, and giving it a sense of wellbeing.

    Magnesium also functions closely with potassium, calcium and phosphorus. It hums through the body, maintaining an electrical charge between cells and inside muscles and nerves. Magnesium has a very special relationship with the heart, and studies show that both acute and chronic magnesium deficiencies are associated with an increased risk of heart attack.

    Another main role of magnesium is to perpetuate a game of checks and balances with calcium inside the body. It is fundamental for both the absorption and excretion of calcium, and assists in the safe elimination of calcium through the urinary tract, preventing kidney stones and soft-tissue calcium deposits.

    Magnesium deficiency is very common in the elderly, and magnesium supplementation is recommended for those with intestinal or renal distress. Approximately 30-40 percent of dietary magnesium is absorbed, depending on the form consumed, and on individual intestinal transit time. For this reason, large doses of magnesium can be used for occasional constipation without being depleted in the body.

    Pregnant women can also benefit from therapeutic magnesium supplementation to help prevent pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, as well as during the birthing process. Magnesium can also help prevent or lessen the effects of PMS through its ability to regulate mood, appetite changes, energy, cramping and overall response to stress.

    Magnesium is even vital for protein synthesis and healthy blood sugar levels, making it a key nutrient for building muscle and helping maintain a healthy body weight.

    Truly, magnesium has something for everyone. An optimal dose is about 350-450 mg per day, and I recommend getting it in small doses—especially through magnesium-rich foods like kelp, seaweed, almonds, cashews, molasses, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, coconut water, aloe vera, barley grass and legumes. Speak with your health care practitioner before beginning any supplement regimen, and to have your magnesium levels tested. 

  • FAQs Regarding Supplement Purity and Quality at Pharmaca

    Folic AcidIn response to a recent investigation in New York calling into question the purity of herbal supplements on the shelves of some mass-market retailers, Pharmaca has developed the following to help answer common customer questions.

    Should I be taking supplements?

    We believe that dietary and herbal supplements can be an integral part of a good health regimen, but they must be of the highest quality and purity in order to serve their purpose. That’s why Pharmaca adheres to stringent quality standards when selecting supplements for sale.

    Why should I trust the purity of supplements on Pharmaca’s shelves?

    We have deep expertise in the field of herbal supplements and understand there is a wide range in quality of products in the marketplace. It is for that reason that we have put in place a Vendor Quality Assurance Program (VQAP) designed specifically to vet our suppliers and their products. This program follows guidelines outlined in the FDA Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act, FDA 21 CFR 111 cGMP guidelines and USDA Organic standards.

    Because they bear our name, we take special pride in the purity and efficacy of our private label herbs and supplements. They are produced using only a select few suppliers who not only adhere to the guidelines of the the VQAP, but also have a proven track record of good manufacturing practices and produce their supplements in FDA-certified facilities.

    What is the Vendor Quality Assurance Program?

    We want to be the trusted editor for our customers when it comes to the quality of our vitamins and supplements, and the VQAP offers a framework for us to do so.

    Through the VQAP, all of the herbal and dietary supplement brands that Pharmaca carries are evaluated for their use of current Good Manufacturing Practice standards, for the purity and potency of ingredients, and for their formulations and efficacy.

    We also perform periodic verification of our vendors’ quality practices via on-site audits and self-audit questionnaires, which forces our supplement manufacturers to be completely transparent about their processes.

    The VQAP self-audit questionnaires are reviewed using a graded approach to determine the level of quality practices the supplier has in place. Missing answers to the critical questions show potential adulteration and/or contamination problems with materials/products supplied. These questions deal with information about the vendor’s quality control personnel, specifications and related testing of raw materials/finished products, possible contamination of materials/products due to inadequate sanitation practices, inability to substantiate label information, and non-compliance with current food labeling regulations for potential allergens. If the vendor’s answers indicate possible contamination/adulteration issues with materials/products, the use of the vendor will be rejected.

    Are there any other factors that go into your product selection?

    In choosing our supplements, we also rely heavily on the expertise of our in-store practitioners and Integrative Health Advisory Board—made up of both medical and naturopathic doctors—who are well-versed in the use and efficacy of different supplements and brands.

    Pharmaca also partners with brands of like mind, those that have a demonstrated history of using pure, efficacious ingredients. Some of these also qualify as “professional brands” that have been developed—and are in use—in doctors’ clinical practices.

  • The B Vitamin Breakdown

    Vitamin B1Know that you need B vitamins, but not sure which ones you need (or why?). Here's a breakdown of different types of B vitamins often found in B complexes, and why they're important. Follow the links to learn more about dosage recommendations, dietary sources and supplement suggestions.  

    B1 – Thiamine

    Vitamin B1 plays an integral role in the brain and central nervous system. B1 assists in the synthesis of acetylcholine, which is critical in preventing memory loss and nerve inflammation. B1 is also important for the digestive system, as it supports the production of stomach acid and provides nourishment for all digestive organs, helping us get maximum nutrition from our food.

    Read more about vitamin B1 >

    B2 – Riboflavin

    Vitamin B2 is a powerhouse of energy, and a key member of the B vitamin family. As a potent enzyme, riboflavin helps us to synthesize essential fatty acids and amino acids, and enables better absorption of iron and B6. Riboflavin is so vital to the system that cells cannot grow without it, and deficiency is quickly seen in cells that are frequently reproducing, like the mucous membranes, eyes and hair.

    Read more about vitamin B2 >

    B9 – Folic acid

    This powerful nutrient is used to nourish and repair tissues, and plays a key role in the manufacturing of neurotransmitters that help regulate sleep, pain and mood. Folic acid is one of the more well known B vitamins because of its importance during pregnancy for healthy fetal development, particularly during the first trimester.

    Read more about vitamin B9 >
    B12 - Methylcobalamin

    This energy booster is vital for amino acid synthesis, DNA replication and the manufacturing of neurotransmitters that are partially responsible for stabilizing mood and sleep patterns. Signs of deficiency include gastrointestinal disturbance, hypotension, fatigue, numbness, tingling in extremities, confusion and agitation. B12 is also needed to metabolize essential fatty acids. Prolonged deficiency of B12 can lead to a variety of central nervous system symptoms, and some neurological disturbances can become permanent.

    Read more about vitamin B12 >

  • Fiber's Benefits for Overall Health (Video)

    Fiber is an important inclusion in our diets because of its ability to regulate digestion, lower cholesterol, maintain healthy blood sugar levels and more. Here, Dr. Brad Jacobs talks about good ways to get it through diet, how much to aim for each day and other ways it can be beneficial to your health.

  • Omega-3s for Better Health (Video)

    Learn why omega-3s are an important part of your diet. Here, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog talks about why you should be getting fish in your diet or supplementing with fish oil. Fish oil is especially vital during pregnancy and early childhood because it supports cognitive development and eye and nerve health, and can be great for supporting cardiovascular health in later life. Some evidence has even shown it can help prevent cancer, support weight loss, improve insulin resistance, reduce inflammation and more.

  • The Link Between Probiotics and Optimal Health (Video)

    Don't know why you should be taking probiotics? Here, Dr. Tori Hudson talks about the importance of probiotics for people of all ages. In children, probiotics can be helpful for reducing allergies, asthma, eczema and digestive problems; for adults, different strains can help reduce bowel diseases, bladder infections, vaginal infections and to bring gut flora back into balance after a course of antibiotics.

  • Why Multivitamins Are Vital to Good Health (Video)

    If you're wondering whether multivitamins are necessary in your diet, learn from Dr. Tieraona Low Dog about recent research that has shown them to be instrumental in reducing cancer risk, reducing mortality rates for cancer survivors and much more.

  • Fish Oil & Prostate Health: Deconstructing the Studies (Video)

    Recent studies have concerned some men who take fish oil that it could be negatively impacting their prostate health. Here, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog talks about the study and why it is not a good indicator of the real connection between fish oil and prostate health.

  • Frequently Asked Questions About Probiotics

    Fish OilProbiotics are an important part of your supplement regimen and can support immunity, balance digestive health and more (learn more about which strains to look for based on your health concern.) Here, Tori Hudson, ND, member of Pharmaca's Integrative Health Advisory Board, answers some of the most common questions our practitioners get about how and when to take probiotics.

    I eat yogurt; aren't I getting enough probiotics?

    Not all yogurts contain active live cultures of probiotics, and not all contain the same species and strains of probiotics. In those that do contain active live cultures, there are differences in the number of these live and active cultures. Optimally, the yogurt would come with a label that reveals the species it contains as well as the number of colony forming units (CFUs) it contains. Beware though that the number of CFUs listed is based on the amount contained in the yogurt at time of manufacture. Some yogurt manufacturers will feature more information on their website about testing and quality assurance that will tell you about the stability of the probiotic strains in their yogurt.

    Two other issues with yogurt as a source for your probiotics: the dose is lower per serving than you could easily get in a pill, and many yogurts contain sugar and are high in carbohydrates and calories. Using a dietary supplement as a source of probiotics rather than yogurt is more efficient, reduces calorie/sugar intake, offers more accuracy in labeling and can deliver higher amounts of probiotics in a shelf-stable form. Some supplemental probiotics even have more sophisticated delivery systems that allow the probiotics to bypass the stomach acid so that they're even more prominent in the intestines.

    How old do children have to be before taking probiotics?

    The ideal time to introduce a child to probiotics is in utero! Probiotics are one of the most important dietary supplements a pregnant woman can take. I put it in the top three important supplements, along with fish oils and folic acid.

    Later, infants can be introduced to probiotics through mom's milk when breastfeeding, or as a powder—put on the nipple or on a finger that is then placed in the infant’s mouth. Pediatric studies confirm that when probiotics are introduced as early as week one, it can reduce the incidence of vomiting, reflux, constipation and diarrhea. Other research also confirms reduction of Colic, crying time, spitting up and constipation when introduced in the first three months. As they grow, you'll find special formulations for children of all ages at Pharmaca.

    Do seniors need different strains/strengths of probiotics?

    As we age, the microflora of the gut changes, including a reduction in the numbers of good bacteria (lactobacilli and bifidobacteria) and an increase in the numbers of potentially pathogenic bacteria. These changes can result in gastrointestinal disorders and infections, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea, clostridium difficile, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.

    A growing body of research is showing that when the elderly supplement with some species and strains of probiotics, they're seeing positive effects such as a reduction in fecal enzymes, improvements in vitamin synthesis, cholesterol reduction, lactose intolerance reduction, reduction of potential mutagens and predigestion of proteins. Some of the research that has been done includes Bifidobacterium longum 46 and B. longum 2C, and several Lactobacilli species.

    What's the best time of day to take a probiotic?

    There are numerous opinions on this. Some say to take them on an empty stomach so that the stomach acid is relatively low, which may result in a higher chance of the probiotics adhering to the intestinal wall and colonizing the colon. Other researchers assert that probiotics should be taken with food for optimal colonization. I am of the belief that they should be taken with food because the increased gastric pH is more favorable for the probiotics. But I think the most important thing is to take them at a time that will work for you and not worry about the details.

    Can I take them while I'm on antibiotics?

    Not only can you, but it’s very smart to do so. By doing so, you can reduce the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, which can range from mild to severe. Probiotics, such as Lactobacillus spp., (consider L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, Bifidobacterium spp. and Saccharomyces boulardii), can not only reduce the incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by as much as 42 percent, but they can also improve antibiotic therapy as they keep the infection-causing microbe from adhering and multiplying.

    As far as when to take the probiotics in relation to your antibiotics, S. boulardii does not appear to be inhibited by the antibiotics, but the lactobacilli species can be and should be taken at least 2-4 hours after the antibiotic dose. Consider taking the probiotics for 1–3 weeks longer than the duration of antibiotic treatment.

    I've read that probiotics can help with mood elevation or depression, is that true?

    There is a growing body of evidence linking gut health to brain health, and one study showed that even daily consumption of a probiotic-containing yogurt for three weeks significantly increased mood.

    It appears that probiotics can also help to deliver neuroactive substances such as serotonin and GABA, which act on this brain-gut axis. Further research is needed to identify which species and strains are most beneficial to mood and the brain.

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