5 Ways to Prevent a Sinus Infection

We’ve all been there. The snuffy nose that runs like a faucet. Coupled with pain and pressure in the face.

Yep. Sinus infections.

And sinus infections are RAMPANT this time of year.

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I used to get two sinus infections a year — one in the winter and one in the summer when my seasonal allergies went berserk.

But then I decided I would really figure out how to prevent them. Using evidence-based and integrative strategies. And voila! Sinus infections no more!

So how do you prevent sinus infections?

Keep reading for my top tips.

1. Avoid Breathing Dry Air

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You may be thinking, “Yeah, right. How do I do that in the winter?”

Great question because the combo of cold air and artificial heating is a recipe for dryness.

There are a few things you can do.

One is to use a humidifier, especially while you’re sleeping. These relatively inexpensive devices can be a godsend. They work by infusing the air with moisture, which makes things much more comfortable for your nasal passages and sinuses.

Another is to use saline nasal rinses. You can read more about those here.

2. Savor a Cup of Tea

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This is something I can completely get behind.

Tea, particularly of the green variety, has been shown to prevent sinus infections. It is thought the cathechins are responsible for this effect.

If you are new to tea, rest assured green tea tastes delicious. However, how you steep the tea is incredibly important. If you steep green tea for too long or at too high a temperature, it will taste bitter and honestly unpleasant. Be sure to follow steeping instructions to ensure your cup tastes great.

3. Stay Away from Smoke and Pollution

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Cigarette smoke is not only bad for your lungs — the smoke also irritates your nasal and sinus membranes.

When your nasal and sinus membranes are irritated, you are much more likely to get a sinus infection.

High pollution levels also have the same effect. So consider exercising indoors when the air quality is subpar or investing in an air purifier. Air purifiers are not cheap, but can make a huge difference if you live in an area with pollution.

4. Avoid Your Allergens

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When you are exposed to allergens, you often cause inflammation of the nasal and sinus membranes.

If you cannot avoid your allergens, at the very least treat your symptoms.

5. Wash Your Hands . . . Now and Often

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Wash your hands. Right now.

If you come into contact with people with colds or other infections, you increase your risk of illness.

The best way to prevent cold transmission is by hand washing. Now and often.

Keep Yourself Healthy & Happy

I’m a true believer in the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So if you suffer from sinus infections, try these tips to keep you (and your sinuses) healthy and happy.

xo,
Skye

Does Echinancea Really Work?

Picture this.

Your nose is runny. Every time you swallow your throat burns a bit. You feel a touch feverish. Your congested-sounding voice sounds a little pathetic to even your own ears.

Let’s be honest — you feel a bit miserable.

That’s right.

You have a cold.

And you would do anything to feel better fast. Because you have something really important next week (think job interview, date, exam, wedding, etc.).

Suddenly you vaguely recall hearing something about an herb. You open the search engine on your browser and start to enter - e, c, h … wait … you have no idea how to spell it. Thankfully Google supplies the rest.

Echinacea.

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And you start to wonder if it really works. Or if buying some is a complete and total waste of your hard earned money.

Then you go down the rabbit hole of internet “research.” Fifteen minutes go by and you still aren’t sure if you should get some echinacea or just suck it up and feel sick for the next week.

What do you do?

I’ll tell you what you’ll do — you’ll remember your trusty friend Skye told you all about echinacea. She told you if there were scientific evidence to support using it and, if so, how to use it.

So . . . Does Echinacea Work to Treat Colds?

Yes! There are multiple randomized controlled studies that demonstrate echinacea helps treat colds.

Echinacea can decrease the longevity of the common cold. One study showed using echinacea twice daily decreased cold duration from 9 days to 6 days — a decrease in 33%.

Not only can echinacea decrease the length of your cold, it can also decrease the severity of your symptoms. Another study showed using echinacea significantly decreased cold symptom scores by 23%.


How Does Echinacea Work?

Echinacea is thought to have a lot of ANTI effects. By that, I mean antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects. These effects all help echinacea fight off infection.

Echinacea also posses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can also help when you are under the weather.

When Should I Take Echinacea?

To reap the benefits of echinacea, you should start using it AS SOON AS your cold symptoms develop.

As one of my best friends says - immediately if not sooner.

If you wait too long, echinacea probably won’t give you much of a benefit.

What Are the Risks of Echinacea?

Great question.

Everything — absolutely everything — has side effects. And echinacea is no exception.

The good news is echinacea is generally well tolerated. The most common side effects are stomach upset and rash.

And there is a risk of allergic reaction because echinacea is a plant.

If you have a genetic tendency toward allergies, autoimmune conditions, or a skin condition called pemphigus vulgaris, echinacea is probably not for you.

And you should always get your healthcare provider’s blessing before adding anything to your medicine regimen.

Okay . . . I’m Convinced and Want to Try Echinacea. How Much Should I Take?

That is a tricker question for several reasons. One reason is studies that support echinacea used specific proprietary products. Another is echinacea products come in various formulations — capsules, elixirs, tinctures, and tea, to name a few. Furthermore, there are different parts of the echinacea plant that can be used (above the root, below the root, etc.).

So how do you know what to use? I typically go back to the original scientific studies for guidance.

One study used 5 milliliters of an echinacea elixir twice daily for 10 days. Another used 20 drops of echinacea extract in alcohol every two hours on the first day of cold symptoms followed by three times daily for 10 days.

Tea was used in a study. Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus tea blend was consumed five or six times on the first day of cold symptoms followed by one cup a day for 5 days.

Bottomline: you need to evaluate the specific product you plan to use for safety, efficacy, and dosage.

I’m Not Sick Right Now. Should I Still Take Echinacea?

That is an excellent question.

If you want to learn how echinacea can be preventive, check out my post on natural ways to prevent colds.

Now you know the 4-1-1 on echinacea. Wishing you health and happiness! And if you do have a cold, I hope you start feeling better fast.

xxx,
Skye

So You Already Blew your Resolution . . . Now What?

92% percent of New Years goals fail by January 15. And maybe you’re a precocious case and have already had your resolution failure.

Now what?

Do you dive into a gallon of ice cream and burn your gym shoes?

Or do you treat yourself with a little grace and move forward?

I hope you choose grace and forward motion.

Slips happen. Ask anyone who has tried to quit smoking or give up sugar or delete their Facebook profile.

I’m going to let you in an a secret. Slips are NORMAL.

And no slip — no matter how bad — can undo all the good work you have done and will do.
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So what if you resolved to go to the gym everyday this year and for whatever reason you didn’t yesterday? Don’t let that stop you from progressing on your ultimate goal (which is to really feel comfortable in your own body).

Transcend the negative and counterproductive black and white thinking. Remember you are human — you have great goals and ideals, but in some instances you miss the mark. Pick yourself up, move forward, and get yourself back on track at the next opportunity possible.

Resolved to avoid dessert, but succumbed to a pumpkin scone from the display case at Starbucks? No biggie. Learn from the slip — what made you slip? Do a little root cause analysis and try to solve the problem. And at your very next meal or snack, get back on track. Don’t throw the whole day, week, month, or year away because you slipped.

It’s not the slip that defines you and your success. It’s what you do AFTER the slip that dictates your success.

Whether you already messed up your resolution or will mess up, go forward in peace. Have some grace, learn from the slip, and get back on track ASAP.

With grace and love,
Skye

Thank YOU! And 2017’s Best Of List.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you for being part of A Better Way Wellness. Thank you for helping me share real, truthful, and action-oriented health information. Thank you for making living a happier and healthier life a priority.

It’s been a year for the books and I wouldn’t be doing what I  am truly passionate about without you.

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So THANK YOU!

And as a small token of my appreciation, I am giving you a list of my most popular posts this last year.

It’s A Better Way Wellness’ Best Of 2017 List. It’s short, sweet, and full of health boosting tidbits. So have at it!

1. How to Use Supplements to Boost Happiness

If you want to be happier and want supplements to give you a boost, this is the post of you.

2. Healthy Happy Hour Part I and Healthy Happy Hour Part II

Do you love happy hour? And love feeling great? If so, click the links above to find out how.

3. How to Burn Fat in 15 Minutes

Who doesn’t want to burn fat fast? I know I do . . . if you do, too, check out this one.

4. How to be Happier at Work

Do you want to feel better and happier in the workplace? If this is you, I have actionable tips to help.

5. The Smoothie that Tastes Like Dessert, But Feels Like Medicine

Yes, please! Recipes that taste rich and luxe, but make you “feel like a million bucks” are my favorite. This one is easy-peasy. Give it a try!

6. My Fall Beverage Secret: The Sunshine Latte (Recipe Included)

I know it’s not technically fall anymore, but the Sunshine Latte will still please your mouth, mind, and body.

7. The Truth About Chocolate (& the Best Way to Eat It)

Chocolate lovers rejoice! Chocolate is GOOD for you and I show you the best ways to have it in this post.

8. 5 Products to Change Immediately to Decrease Exposure to Carcinogens and EDCs

Consider a New Year's resolution around this one. Swap out one (or all!) of these products to protect yourself from carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

Not Your Average Gift Guide . . .

Okay. I know you’ve received a half dozen holiday gift guides in your inbox in the last few weeks.

And for various reasons you probably haven’t liked them. My guess is it’s the same reasons I don’t like them. The gift guides may have heavy commercial bias, the gifts are WAY over budget, or you think the author is getting kick backs from what they recommend.

These are EXACTLY the reasons I knew I needed to create a gift guide for you.

This guide includes 10 healthy and inspiring gifts perfect for your loved ones (or for yourself). Each gift is under $30. I can personally vouch for everything on the guide. And I have NO financial interest in anything I recommend. These are just gifts I plan to give or would love to receive.

So if you want gifts to help your loved ones live a healthier and happier life (without breaking your budget), read on!

A Hydro Flask ($29.95)
 

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These stainless steel bpa-free water bottles have a cult following - and for good reason. I was gifted one last year and immediately fell in love. It’s double walled vacuum design keeps cold drinks cool and hot drinks warm. Bonus: the slim design of this model fits in most car cup holders.

This is a gift that encourages hydration and helps the planet. Win win!


The Oh She Glows Cookbook ($18)
 

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This is an oldie but a goodie. I’ve been obsessed with this cook book for years. Every single recipe is healthy, plant-based, and delicious. This book is truly a delight and I highly recommend it for yourself or a loved one.

The Oh She Glows App ($1.99)
 

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If you love Oh She Glows then this app is a perfect gift. It contains a vast collection of recipes with beautiful photos and interactive instructions. The app is constantly updated with new recipes so it will be a gift that keeps giving throughout the year. At under $2, it’s a steal of a deal.


The Calm App (free with varying amounts of in-app purchases)

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This bestselling app will provide the gift of guided meditation, improved sleep, and increased happiness. Better yet, it even claims to reduce anxiety. A special holiday perk is buy one get one free on the premium package. So you can give and receive the gift of calmness.

Weleda Skin Food ($15.99)
 

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This natural and rich cream is a godsend for dry and rough skin. It’s the perfect ultra rich hand cream for cold and dry weather. Plus, it’s unisex natural herbal scent is almost universally loved. I always keep my a tube of this on my bed stand, in my handbag, and a spare in my medicine cabinet. Weleda Skin Food is also free of parabens, phthalates, and other endocrine disruptors so you can give this gift with a clean conscience.

Trisha Watson Organics Lavender Vanilla Body Oil ($18)
 

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Locally sourced lavender and rich vanilla combine delightfully in this hydrating body oil. Sometimes my nose is offended by lavender and vanilla combos, but this product hits the nail on the head. It’s produced in small batches by my friend and aesthetician and would be the perfect gift for the women you love. Keep in mind all of Trisha's products are organic and free of harmful chemicals.

A Trader Joe’s Gift Card (you choose the amount!)

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Of all the gift cards purchased, grocery ones are used the most frequently. Trader Joe’s is a place high end and bargain shoppers agree is great. Plus you can feel good knowing your gift recipient is getting the gift of healthy nourishment.

Theo Chocolate Holiday Edition Bars ($4)
 

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If you’re a regular around here, you know I have a love affair with Theo chocolate. It’s organic, fair trade, and free of weird additives. And last week, I told you all about chocolate’s surprising health benefits. Read more about it here.

Each year, Theo comes out with holiday edition chocolate bars. At $4 a bar, you can buy a few a make a lovely (and healthy) holiday gift.

Sound of Om Tea ($12)

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This loose leaf herbal tea is the perfect winter treat. It’s caffeine free and naturally sweet thanks to licorice, making it the perfect after dinner dessert. It looks and smells beautiful thanks to the rosebuds and saffron. It’s a serious treat! Sound of Om is one of my favorite teas during the colder months.

Forlife Asian Style Tea Cup with Infuser and Lid ($27.75)
 

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I am a loose leaf tea gal. Why? To me, it tastes better and reduces the waste of disposable tea bags. I find this cup with built in infuser and lid is perfect for brewing loose leaf tea. The infuser is extra-fine so you won’t find stray tea leaves in your cup and I adore the Asian design. I have a turquoise one and will be adding another to my collection soon.

Enjoy the Holiday Season

I hope this guide gave you healthy holiday gifting inspiration. Am I missing something you love? Let me know in the comments section below.

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season,
Skye

 

Non-Depressing Health Alert: Chocolate is GOOD for Your Heart

Are you struggling with the holidays?

Maybe you can’t turn down those chocolate truffles your co-worker put in the lunch room.

Maybe the box of Candy Cane JoJo’s calls your name when you’re shopping at Trader Joe’s.

Or maybe your husband brought home a package of dark chocolate dipped pretzels that you can’t resist. (Welcome to my life).

Are you feeling food guilt or frustration?

If so, I have FANTASTIC (and evidence-based) health news for you. News that will make you feel better, lose the guilt, and start enjoying the holidays.

Are you ready?

Because it may blow your mind away.

Chocolate is good for your heart.

Seriously.

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Eating chocolate is correlated with reductions in heart disease.

So are things like exercising and eating fruits and vegetables. But isn’t eating chocolate a little more fun? I think so. And I think a healthy life SHOULD be fun.

A recent study published in the journal Heart may give us a look into WHY. The study conducted in Denmark showed chocolate consumption was associated with a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, a common arrhythmia that can lead to stroke and other serious heart problems.

Those who had one to three one-ounce servings of chocolate each month had a 10% relative risk reduction in atrial fibrillation. And people that ate more chocolate (one serving a week) had a 20% reduction.

The not as good news? Those that had one or more servings of chocolate a day did not have a statistically significant risk reduction.

So enjoy those chocolate truffles — but try to keep it to once a week to maximize heart health benefits.

OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE

There are other health benefits to chocolate. Studies show chocolate consumption is also associated with:

  •  Lower blood pressure
  •  Improved insulin response
  •  Improved mood

So you can feel good (and healthy) about that dark chocolate truffle you just ate.

THE BEST TYPE OF CHOCOLATE TO EAT

If you want to maximize the health benefits of chocolate, I have a motto for you.

Darker is smarter.

The darker the chocolate, the higher percentage the cacao or cocoa.

The cacao or cocoa is the part of the chocolate that we think has the health benefits. Not the added sugar or milk.

If you need a little help on picking the best types of chocolate, check out this post. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see my favorite chocolate brands. 

NEXT STEPS

So go forth and enjoy your holidays! Eat your chocolate and savor each bite — knowing you are helping your heart.

 

With love,
Skye

The Smoothie that Tastes Like Dessert, But Feels Like Medicine

I’m going to let you in on my favorite secret to feel healthy fast.

Green smoothies.

Yep. No matter what’s going on — too little sleep (ahem … guilty here since I have an infant in the house), stress, overindulging in holiday sweets — a green smoothie will help you feel better fast.

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Since Thanksgiving was last week, I suspect you may need a little health reset to get you feeling better.

So I’m sharing my new favorite green smoothie recipe.

Every few months I find a new favorite smoothie. In the summer, I lean toward tropical and seasonal fruits. In the fall, I crave my apple pie smoothie recipe. And right now, I’m obsessed with my Snickerdoodle smoothie.

Why am I obsessed with my Snickerdoodle Smoothie? Because it tastes like dessert, but feels like medicine (in the best way, of course).

This smoothie feels like medicine because it gives your body much needed nutrients through spinach and bananas. It tastes creamy and decadent from nut milk and almond butter. It it anti-inflammatory due to the cinnamon and flaxseed. Bottom line: it’s delicious and nutritious.

So if you’ve had too little sleep, extra stress, or too much Thanksgiving food give this recipe a try.

Enjoy,
Skye

A Recipe for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Over the last two weeks, I’ve received dozens of questions about the big holiday on Thursday.

You know. Thanksgiving. The day devoted to family, food, festivities, and football.

For some of us, this sounds like heaven on earth. For others, it can induce some serious stress.

Regardless of the camp you’re in, there are ways to enhance your day to make sure your Thanksgiving is both happy and healthy.

Just follow my five step recipe for Thanksgiving success and you’ll be well on your way!

Step 1: Exercise in the morning

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First things first. Start your Thanksgiving with a sweat. This way you’ll get a shot of stress-relieving and feel-old hormones that will be sure to help you feel fantastic for the rest of the day.

Does this sound too boring to you? Then make it a social event and rally a group to sign up for a Turkey Trot or head to a Thanksgiving themed class. Organize a group hike.

Prefer the solo approach? Hit the gym, walk, bike, jog ... the options are endless.

Just make sure to start your day with a sweat.

Step 2: Have a healthy breakfast

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It can be tempting to fast all day and binge at dinner. However, I NEVER recommend this approach. Why?

If you head into your Thanksgiving meal totally famished, a few things will happen. One, you’ll be a grump. Coupling that with your annoying Uncle could be a recipe for disaster. Two, any alcohol you have will go straight to your head. Which could precipitate awkward conversations about politics with your right or left wing extremist relatives. Three, you are more likely to binge on the first thing you see. Which could be the weird hor d’oeuvres your cousin brought that doesn’t even taste good.

Having a good breakfast doesn’t mean you need to eat a Denny’s grand slam. Instead have a lighter breakfast that will leave you feeling great and that loads you up on nutrients.

Need some inspiration? Try this green smoothie (from this post) or my favorite oatmeal (in this post).

Step 3: Avoid the pre-meal snacks

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Now, this one depends on your personal preferences. If you wait all year for a special artichoke dip or special appetizer, please savor and enjoy each and every bite.

But if you’re just grazing on food mindlessly to kill time until the big meal, skip on the snacks. And if you feel like you must snack on something, have some raw veggies.

Bottomline: Indulge in the foods you love on Thanksgiving and pass on those that aren’t doing it for you.

Step 4: Seriously enjoy your meal.

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I mean this. Thanksgiving comes once a year (unless you’re Canadian-American). So savor and enjoy the holiday.

Appreciate the feast. Breathe in the delicious aromas. Relish in the fluffiness of the mashed potatoes, the complex seasoning on the stuffing, and the heartiness of the gravy. Truly taste the wine and cider.

Consider Thanksgiving a serious holiday for your senses. And enjoy every moment.

Step 5: Lose the guilt

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Really.

There is no reason to feel guilty for enjoying your Thanksgiving meal. If you find yourself feeling guilty for eating your favorite holiday foods, may I offer you a suggestion?

Gently close your eyes and take a few deeps breaths. On your inhalation, breathe in celebration. On your exhalation, breathe out any guilt or anxiety you feel.

Seriously. Give this a try.

And if you need more help on savoring the day and losing the guilt, check out my post here.

Now you have my cooking-free recipe for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

I’m wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy, and better Thanksgiving.

With gratitude,
Skye

How to Buy the Best Multivitamin for YOU

Okay.

Based on the number of questions I’ve received in the last two weeks, I can tell you want more guidance on multivitamins.

So in addition to my intro post on multivitamins and my list of favorite multis, I made you a special treat.

Why? Because I want to make sure you are aren’t wasting your money on a multivitamin that doesn’t work for you. Because it’s the season for giving. Because I want to help you create a life imbued with wellness.

So what’s the special treat? It’s a downloadable Multivitamin Guide that will help you pick the perfect multivitamin.

My exclusive Multivitamin Guide will:

  • Teach you multivitamin basics

  • Cover 6 things you NEED to know before buying a multivitamin

  • Give you a checklist to find a high-quality multivitamin that suits you and your individual needs

This guide is my gift to you as a way to thank you for being part of the A Better Way Wellness community.

All I ask is you share it with friends, family, colleagues, or anyone you think you benefit from the information. Because we’re all about paying it forward around here.

Ready for your gift? Click HERE or the image below to access the Multivitamin Guide for Adults.

Sending you health & happiness,
Skye

My Favorite Multivitamins

I normally NEVER do this.

But since last week’s post (5 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Multivitamin), I’ve received so MANY questions about which specific multivitamin you should buy.

Without knowing your personal health history, I cannot recommend you use a specific product. If I knew all about your health conditions, allergens, health goals, and sensitivities, I could tell you the product that would best suit your needs. (If you are interested in working with me privately and getting a personal recommendation, contact me here.)

However, what I can do is provide you a list of multivitamins I have personally used and am happy with. The caveat is companies can change formulations and ingredients at any time. But as of today, my list is current.

Keep reading for four of my favorite multivitamins that I have personally used.
Please note: As usual, I DO NOT have any financial relationships to any of the brands/companies listed below. Please discuss starting a multivitamin with your healthcare providers.

Smarty Pants Prenatal Complete

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Smarty Pants multivitamins are chewable gummies and contain high quality vitamin forms. I personally used this during my pregnancy. Please note, this product does NOT contain iron. If you need to supplement iron, this is not the best option.

Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy often has sales on Smarty Pants vitamins. So does Vitacost.


Thorne Research Laboratories Basic Nutrients 2/Day

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If swallowing horse-pills isn’t for you, this multivitamin may be a good option. It comes as a capsule that is easy to swallow. This product contains calcium - which may be a pro or a con. It also contains beta-carotene which is not a good choice for smokers or those with asbestos exposure.

It’s rare to find Thorne Research on sale. If I find a source or sale, I’ll be sure to post it here.

mykind Organics Multi

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The ingredients in these multivitamins are certified USDA organic and non-GMO. Most ingredients are food derived, which some people like. These multivitamins contain calcium and an organic food blend- which may be a pro or a con depending on your personal needs. They also contain beta-carotene which is not a good choice for smokers or those with asbestos exposure.

mykind multivitamins often go on sale at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy. I suspect they will have a special Thanksgiving sale as well.

Pure Encapsulations O.N.E. Multivitamin

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Pure Encapsulations makes a high quality multivitamin for adults. Fact: many multivitamins contain common allergens (like gluten, soy, or eggs). If you are gluten-intolerant, the Pure Encapsulations multivitamin may be a good choice for you as they are gluten-free. And if you avoid animal products you can rest easy knowing they are vegetarian. Please note, this multivitamin contains beta-carotene which is not a good choice for smokers or those with asbestos exposure.

Pure Encapsulations has 30% off friends and family discounts throughout the year so be on the watch for sales.

Recap


There you have it! Four multivitamins that I have personally used and happy with. Please remember, picking a multivitamin is an individualized process and depends on your specific health history and needs (which may be different from mine). And be sure to check with your healthcare providers before starting a multi.

In health,
Skye