The Inside Scoop On My Supplements

Here’s the truth. I am not a big fan of taking supplements.

I feel that the supplement industry tries hard to make us believe that we need to take this pill or that powder in order to enjoy optimal health, but in reality, we can get (almost) everything we need from the food we eat.

That said, there are a few supplements I take (most of which are indeed food!) that I wanted to share with you because they help me to feel healthy, happy, and pain-free.

My Morning Routine

Every morning, I wake up and take a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar on an empty stomach.

Then, I drink a 16 ounce mug full of warm water with fresh Lemon & Ginger. I take Vitamin D and Glucosamine Sulphate.

After that, I have my breakfast, which is often a smoothie, oatmeal, or yogurt and contains some of my other favourite food supplements; Maca or Ashwagandha, Triphala, Turmeric and Spirulina (more on these in a bit).

I take my Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

And after all of that, I have my cup of morning decaf coffee. 🙂

So let’s look at each supplement in detail.

Let's Break It Down

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): Taking this vinegar before meals, either straight off the spoon or diluted in water, helps to reduce digestive issues like bloating and gas. ACV is also known to reduce blood sugar, so it is a great supplement for diabetics. I take one tablespoon before breakfast. I don’t dilute it, but that’s just me, and I love vinegar. 😉

For best results, take it 30 minutes before a meal. You can take up to 2 tablespoons a day (as a maximum), so space it out and measure accordingly if you want to take it before each main meal.

Every morning, after a night of fasting, I want to hydrate my body and nourish it before offering it caffeine, which is dehydrating (even my decaf has some caffeine in it). Here’s how I do it:

Lemon Juice: Years ago, I started out just drinking lots of cold water, then graduated to warm water and then I began adding fresh lemon juice. Fresh lemon balances our PH levels and detoxifies the liver, among other benefits.

Ginger: I have upped my re-hydration game over the last several years, and now I also add freshly grated ginger to my warm lemon water. Not only does it taste amazing, ginger has anti-inflammatory as well as detoxifying benefits and is also great for people with digestive issues.

I sometimes also add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper and a drizzle of maple syrup if I want to replicate a tonic Roger and I enjoyed when we spent a few days at Grail Springs Spa…a heavenly retreat in Bancroft, Ontario. 🙂

Cayenne Pepper: Boosts metabolism due to the capsaicin, which heats up the body.

Maple syrup: Adds a nice sweetness and is rich in chromium, which helps to metabolize carbohydrates and balance blood sugar. Chromium is a supplement (in pill form) often recommended for diabetics—talk to your doctor if you are considering taking chromium supplements.

So, after my shot of vinegar each morning, I drink a mug full of warm water with about a ½ inch piece of fresh ginger grated in (using a metal rasp) and the juice of either ½ or 1 whole lemon. I like to get at least a tablespoon of lemon juice, so it depends on the size of the lemon. Using a lemon reamer really helps get all of that juice out of the lemon.

I use this wooden kind, and replace it every year.

But if you want to avoid the seeds, you may want to use one like this.

The Ginger Solution

The Trouble With Ginger: Grating fresh ginger is difficult because it is so fibrous. It makes it challenging to get it off my rasp and into my mug of warm lemon water. I have tried several ways to easily grate/mince ginger, and finally came up with the perfect solution that I am thrilled to share with you. 🙂

  • I peel a good chunk of ginger (or the entire piece I buy at the grocery store) and cut it into ½ inch pieces.
  • I place the small pieces in a Ziploc baggie and pop them in the freezer.
  • Once frozen, I remove a piece and grate it, using a metal rasp. It works perfectly!

Note: This method works for any dish that calls for freshly grated ginger.

This is the type of rasp I use. You can find these at most kitchen and hardware stores.

Kitchen Tip: Ginger and garlic are “best friends”, so I often use them together in cooking. My favourite dishes that include both garlic and ginger are Asian, Indian and Thai dishes.

Right now, my favourite easy recipe is the Vegetable Fried “Rice” recipe I adapted from The Detoxinista. It is found as one of the Free Recipes in the Meal Plan you get when you join my blog. 🙂 It is easy, tasty, whips up quickly and calls for both garlic and ginger. Plus, instead of rice, it calls for cauliflower “rice” so I get an extra serving of vegetables without sacrificing the texture I’m looking for. Love that!

Next, I add the following supplements to my smoothie or oatmeal in the morning.

Maca Root Powder or Ashwagandha Root Powder (depending on my needs), Triphala Powder, Spirulina and Turmeric. Here’s why:

Super Food Boosters

I like to think of Maca Root Powder as an “upper” when I need some energy, a boost in libido, or I’m looking to increase my circulation naturally. When I am feeling low energy, I take 1-2 teaspoons every other day, and maximum 5 days a week, as my body will otherwise become overstimulated if I take it daily. It has a mild, caramel-like flavour.

I like to think of Ashwagandha Root Powder (Ash-Wah-Gone-Dah) as a “downer”, where it helps to calm my adrenal glands naturally and relaxes me. It helps give me energy when I need it and helps me rest when I need that too. When I take it, I take 1-2 teaspoons daily. Like maca, it also has a mild, caramel flavour.

Note: I do not take both maca and ashwagandha at the same time. I take neither or one or the other, depending on what is going on with me adrenally.

Recently, I started taking Triphala Powder (Triff-A-La). Like Maca and Ashwagandha, Triphala is used in Ayurvedic healing. It is a blend of 3 Indian fruits, and it is very high in vitamin C, so it boosts immunity. It is also known to improve digestion and alleviate constipation, so if these are concerns for you, I invite you to learn more about this ancient Ayurvedic blend. I have started adding a teaspoon daily to my smoothie, oatmeal or yogurt. It tastes very astringent, without any sweetness, so it is best added to smoothies that have some fruit in them to mask the flavour. 🙂

I also add a teaspoon of Turmeric daily to my smoothie or in various dishes for the anti-inflammatory benefits. Check out this post to watch the video on how I put my smoothie together (note, I wasn’t using Triphala at that time).

I buy my Organic Traditions brand of Ashwagandha and Triphala at Bulk Barn or health food stores, and the Organika brand of Maca at health food stores or the Gluten Free Smart Store (online; great price, and free shipping if you live in Ontario). I like to buy my spices organically as often as possible, so I buy the Simply Organic brand of Turmeric for the price, quantity and quality. I often re-use the containers by re-filling with bulk organic spices (found at health food stores like Rainbow Foods in Ottawa).


Something Seems Fishy!

As I talked about in my Healthy Juice Boost post, I take 2 teaspoons of Organic Spirulina Powder every day. I buy the Organika brand at Bulk Barn or health food stores, or you can buy various brands online.

Spirulina (Spih-Rule-Eee-Na OR Spiral-Eye-Na) is known as a Superfood as it has a very high concentration of chlorophyll, one of nature’s most powerful detoxifying agents as well as high levels of iron and calcium. It is a blue-green freshwater algae that helps to remove toxins from the blood. It’s high in plant-based protein and many vitamins, minerals and nutrients. It has a slightly fishy smell (kind of like seaweed), but it is not overpowering.

I love using 2 teaspoons of spirulina in my morning smoothie, and it is also a main ingredient in my “SuperPower Bars” (recipe below) inspired by a Green Bar I always get when I visit my Mom on Vancouver Island. Although the taste may take some getting used to, I highly suggest giving spirulina a try!

Before I finish my breakfast, I take my Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO). The taste is strong, so I need to have a sip of smoothie or a bite of breakfast ready to chase it!

I take the Green Pasture “Blue Ice” Fermented Cod Liver Oil. I find it at my local health food store or you can order it online from the Green Pasture website.

Allison, my hairstylist, can attest to this one. After a few months of me taking about 1 teaspoon of this amazing oil daily (considered more of a superfood than a supplement), she couldn’t believe the quality of my hair. It had become thicker, stronger, and shinier. She was sold! She now uses this product herself and tells her clients about it. 🙂

It has also helped my skin to become smoother, and my fingernails to grow much faster. I keep my nails short, and I have to cut them at least once a week.

I take about a teaspoon of FCLO daily to give me roughly 10,000 IUs of vitamin A and 1,000-2,000 IUs of vitamin D. Plus, it is filled with Omega 3’s. I LOVE this stuff. The taste is VERY fishy (I use the unflavoured kind), but I like to use the syringe that is included with it and just down it. The taste is gone quickly and I don’t find any aftertaste.

If you can’t do “fishy”, they have flavoured FCLO, like cinnamon and orange. Otherwise, you can take the capsules.

Here is some information from Green Pasture’s website:

“Welcome to Green Pasture Products™. We are a family owned business started by Dave and Barb Wetzel in 2000. Our business focus is to provide high-quality sacred-food oils just as they were made prior to the industrialized food and farming revolution. We ferment the historically sacred cod and skate liver oils. Fermenting the livers of fish to extract the oil is an old world practice that may go back as far as biblical times. During the 1850s was the beginning of the industrial food revolution and the first time cod liver oil manufacturing changed from its historical sacred roots to an industrialized food. We've turned back the clock and restored these sacred foods to their roots. We are proud to offer these historical sacred foods prepared with the same great care and concern for our generational health just as our ancestors.”

Here Comes The Sun!

Studies show that most of us, especially those who live farther away from the equator (we are about 5,000 km from it here in Ottawa), are deficient in Vitamin D. Unlike other vitamins, our own amazing bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. The problem is that we just don’t synthesize enough of it from the sun because we are wearing too much clothing in colder months, and we tend to wear sunscreen in warmer months.

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, so it is extremely important for bone health as well as our overall health. Research is showing that vitamin D also improves our mental health because it helps boost serotonin.

Although I like to get my vitamin D from spending time outdoors, I tend to protect my skin with sunscreen when I am going out for more than about 20 minutes.

I had my blood work done several years ago, and sure enough, I was deficient in vitamin D.  My doctor recommended that I supplement with 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily. I buy it in pill form at Costco, and take 3,000 International Units (IUs) of it that way, and I get the rest in real food form, such as my FCLO, tuna, fatty fish like salmon, and eggs.

Note: It is the yolks that contain the vitamin D, so I don’t eat egg white omelettes! 🙂
Also, I wouldn't suggest drinking orange juice that is "fortified with vitamin D", as the negative health effects from the sugar in juice offsets any benefit you'd get from the vitamin D that's added in.

Pain, Pain, Go Away!

Glucosamine Sulphate: Several years ago, I started to suffer with knee pain, and I also began to show signs of early arthritis in my hands. My chiropractor recommended 750-1500 mg (1-2 capsules) of glucosamine sulphate daily. It is derived from the shells of shellfish, so if you have an allergy or are vegan/vegetarian, you would have to look for vegetarian glucosamine, available at health food stores.

It has been shown to lubricate joints as well as help cartilage retain water and prevent its breakdown. I have gone off of it a few times to see if I notice a difference, and I can say with 100% certainty that my joints feel better when I take it. I buy mine in bulk at Costco.

The Recap

  • I take ACV first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
  • I re-hydrate my body with water, balance my PH levels with lemon and detoxify with ginger in my warm water and lemon/ginger drink.
  • I take my Vitamin D and glucosamine with my lemon/ginger water.
  • I eat my breakfast or sip my smoothie (that includes Maca or Ashwagandha, Triphala, Spirulina and Turmeric) and take my FCLO.

Once I got into a routine of doing all of this, I began to notice positive health effects and I haven't looked back. 🙂

The Bottom Line

I hope this post served you. I am not prescribing anything here, but just offering insight into what I take outside of my regular diet of lean meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains in order to feel healthy and well.

If something speaks to you, I suggest consulting your doctor or health care practitioner and discussing requirements and dosages.

Although I am a big proponent of getting what I need from food, sometimes I need a boost, and supplements can help me to get what I need to feel my best. Most of what I take is indeed food or is derived from food, and so I feel good about my choices. I love to feel happy, healthy and pain-free, and I want the same for you.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts on this post and what supplements YOU take, so please leave a comment below. As always, if you feel this information could help a friend, feel free to pass it along. 🙂

SuperPower Bars

SuperPower Bar Ingredients


Ready To Eat!

I know these don't look very appetizing, but I promise, they taste delicious! I individually wrap these bars in plastic wrap or parchment paper and store them in the freezer.

I LOVE the taste and texture of them straight out of the freezer, but they are also good out of the fridge. They melt quickly (due to the coconut oil), so I don't suggest these for travel. I hope you give them a try and enjoy the Superfood benefits!



  • Janis Weaver

    Reply Reply September 16, 2015

    Hey Sarah – my ND recently suggested taking Krill Oil. Would this be a substitute for CLO? Or do they perform different functions? So enjoying all that you share on a regular basis.

    • Sarah Roberts

      Reply Reply September 16, 2015

      Hi Janis! Glad to have you with me and I am thrilled that you are enjoying my posts. Thank you 🙂

      I have heard great things about the krill oil but haven’t tried it myself. What I like about FCLO is that it is cold pressed, is in liquid form, uses the traditional method of extracting the oil and is fermented.

      I encourage you to do your research, but if your ND is recommending krill, maybe give it a try!

      Good luck and keep me posted! 🙂

  • Joan

    Reply Reply February 25, 2017

    You mention that you take both Maca Powder & Ashwagandha. Do you take them at the same time, or one for a period of time and then the other or alternate them on a regular basis?

    • Sarah Roberts

      Reply Reply February 25, 2017

      Great question and I will go back and re-visit that post! 🙂 I take them separately. I use them differently. I see maca as an “upper” and ashwagandha as a “downer”. I use gelatenized (cooked) maca when I am extremely stressed, dragging, and when I need to give my libido a boost. It can’t be taken every day! I either take it every other day or else I take it 5 days on and 2 days off. When I am under stress and need to be calmed down, I take ashwagandha powder. It is known as Indian Ginseng and is great for calming our adrenal glands. I take it in powder form in my smoothie but it can be taken in capsule form, too. Maca is about 3 times the price of ashwagandha and both can be found at Health Food stores, Bulk Barn, Trader Joe’s< Whole Foods and elsewhere. I hope this helps! 🙂

  • Joan Nordemann

    Reply Reply February 26, 2017

    Thanks Sarah – that does help. I take thyroid meds and have for about 40 years and in my research both maca powder & ashwagandha help the thyroid but as a medical disclaimer – there is always check with your doctor – though most don’t know much about alternative options. I see posts that both have been of benefit – so I am looking for feedback as I feel I know my body better that someone else in most cases. I have been working with a homeopath for about 6 years and she prepares remedies based on my needs – though she tells me that due to the life I lead – multiple business owner – I burn through magnesium at a high rate -though I take 2-3 magnesium bisgylcinate a day – my adrenals are stressed and if I add more exercise/activities, I end up with leg/feet cramps – sometimes in my hands as well. Though I go long periods without, I sometimes will have a beer or cocktail and invariably I will get legs cramps at night. Are you away of any natural herbs, vitamins or powders that I could look at. I sometimes feel like a hypochondriac as I research and try many different things for energy and vitality. Any feedback you may have is welcome.

    • Sarah Roberts

      Reply Reply February 26, 2017

      Wow, I am so impressed that you take your health so seriously. Well done. I am glad you are working with a homeopath. Magnesium is a big one. I am not a supplement-taker for the most part, as you know, but do you take a liquid magnesium? It is always better than pill-form, and I recommend taking it at night about an hour or so before bed. I also recommend an epsom salt bath. It is a lovely way to relax and it boosts your magnesium. Another way to nourish your adrenal glands (that are likely tax due to stress) are: meditation, sleep (magnesium should help), Moringa leaf powder (I like the True Roots brand–can be ordered online and I take mine in a smoothie), and Astragalus (pills form). Speak with your homeopath and/or ND and see what they think. Sending you big hugs!!

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