As a physician, I sincerely appreciate all that nurses go through. You put up with cranky patients and arrogant doctors day in and day out. You are on your feet running the halls all day which turns into foot problems years later. Hours are long yet hardly boring. Then you go home and likely prepare meals, prepare your kids for school and, if you’re lucky, you can go for a walk with your partner or get some exercise in. That isn’t even the half of it.
Nurses are exposed to radiation, cleaning chemicals, sterilizing chemicals, infectious agents, insane patients (and doctors), sharp needles, noxious gases, latex, formaldehyde, heavy metals, dangerous medications and emotional roller coasters – the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. You love your job. You’re passionate about what you do and wouldn’t trade it for the world. There are few jobs like it and you kick ass at it. Let’s keep you healthy. Your question asks ‘tips for us nurses to stay healthy’ because you’re ‘exposed to so many illnesses.’ You forgot to mention that nurses are also exposed to so many chemicals. As a naturopathic physician, I always aim for prevention and education.
That said, there are the core nutrients which are needed by all, especially nurses and other people who are exposed to chemicals and other hazards in the workplace. Beneficial supplement choices for nurses to prevent getting sick:
* Vitamin D3: If I had to pick one nutrient for a nurse, it would be vitamin D3. Why? Because it supports mood, bone health, immunity, cardiovascular to name a few.
– Get your blood levels of vitamin D3 tested.
– If they are below 60, you need to load up on vitamin D3. Consider taking 10,000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day and then measuring again at 3 months time.
– If your levels are near 80, then you need to supplement with 5,000 IU per day and measure your vitamin D3 blood levels every 3 months.
– According to John Cannell of Vitamin D3 Council, 5,000 IU of Vitamin D3 is the suggested daily maintenance dose during the low sun exposure months.
– For daily maintenance during summer months or if you do not feel comfortable taking 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, then take 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily.
* Adrenal Support: Given the amount of stress nurses are under, nurses should support their adrenals. Nurses can feel calm in the most intense moments if their adrenals are balanced. Nurses can feel consistently energized without having to resort to 10 cups of coffee a shift or drinking corn syrup laden energy drinks. Sleep is also deeper and waking refreshed is possible.
– I recommend nurses take 2 capsules of Adrenal Support Plus in the morning on waking and 2 more in the afternoon.
– Do not take Adrenal Support of any type within 5 hours of going to sleep as it will keep you awake.
* Potent Multivitamin/Mineral: Obtaining nutrients from food is next to impossible due to corporate farming methods, pesticides, herbicides, lengthy improper handling and transportation and depleted soils. Then one adds the fact that grocery stores and restaurants no longer serve ‘food’. Food is now all conveniently stored on shelves for long duration and not requiring refrigeration. The amount of processing has destroyed our foods. Monsanto needs to simply vanish from our planet. I wish they would genetically alter themselves and screw up. I digress…
– Nutrient 950 with NAC is a complete multivitamin with extra antioxidant support. NAC is essential for lung health and detoxification.
– For optimum effect, take 3 capsules of Nutrient 950 in the AM with breakfast and 3 more capsules at lunch time. There is no reason to take all 8 capsules.
* Probiotic: Given that nurses are exposed to so many chemicals and infectious agents, it is essential that nurses have protection on board. Probiotics assist and act as key players in the enteric immune system. Did you know that most of our immune function stems from our innate immunity which is located in our digestive system. When I say most, I mean 70%. If your gut associated lymphatic tissue is not functioning properly due to pathogenic bacteria, chemical exposure or radiation, nurses become ill.
– Help protect 70% of your immune system by taking 1 capsule of ProBiota 12 Maximum Strength every night at dinner.
* Detox Support: To help bind all the toxins that you are exposed to from the cleaners and sanitizers, I highly recommend you supplement with nutrients.
– BioCleanse capsules is a phase 2 liver support product which helps mobilize toxins that are already circulating in your blood and helps gets them out via the urine and stool.
– Consider taking 2 capsules anytime and then 2 capsules again about 5 hours later. Anytime is fine.
* Calming Support: Take the edge off at work, improve sleep, maintain energy in a calm and collected fashion with Ashwagandha.
– Stress stops detoxification and actually creates more load on your liver. By remaining more stable and calm, you are able to detox more effectively.
– Improved sleep allows for decreased stress and anxiety thereby improving immunity and effective detoxification.
– Consider taking 2 capsules of Ashwagandha each evening before sleep and 2 capsules before going to work. You won’t notice any difference but your co-workers will. They will ask, “You are so much calmer. What’s up?” The power of subtle changes in mood with Ashwagandha is incredible. I would not have survived medical school without it – nor my extremely fast growing company. Ashwagandha is my favorite herb by far.
Protect your Feet and Knees You are on your feet all day. I highly recommend you look at the MBT shoes. Sauna There is no better way to detox quickly than using a sauna a few times a week. Ensure that you have electrolytes and some detox nutrients on board like BioCleanse capsules. If one gets into a sauna without electrolytes and phase 2 liver support, you will simply be moving toxins around and into your brain. Make sure you get the toxins out and the phase 2 nutrients found in BioCleanse and the electrolytes will both help with this. Having an infrared sauna myself and being a specialist in Environmental Medicine, I have tried numerous protocols for effective sauna therapy. Weigh yourself before getting into the sauna. Make note of it. When done, you should weigh the same. If not, drink more filtered water.
At the first sign of feeling ‘odd’ or ‘ill’, get out. Toxins are affecting you and you need to stop the sauna treatment. Do the sauna again tomorrow or a few hours later in the day. It is not a competition of how hot you can get the sauna. Lower heat such as 115 degrees F is a good temperature. This lower temperature allows you to stay in the sauna longer which means you’ll be able to sweat out toxins more effectively. Further questions about sauna therapy, please do schedule a consult or submit a health question – or a comment below.
Effective Sleep If you find it difficult to fall asleep, take 2 Ashwagandha 30 minutes before sleep along with 2 capsules of Magnesium Plus. You’ll fall asleep. Magnesium is a key deficient mineral which is often low in individuals who cannot fall asleep.
Vitamin B6 is found in Magnesium Plus and vitamin B6 plays a role in neurotransmitter creation. Balanced neurotransmitters allow for balanced thought processes and getting relaxed and calm before bed is part of this. If you find it difficult to stay asleep, then you need to have a protein snack before bed. Almond butter on celery, bowl of low sugar granola, hummus and veggies, something with protein in it. Low protein is the most common cause in patients that cannot stay asleep. The reason? Simple physiology. If one lacks protein before bed, blood sugar tanks in about 3-4 hours. Tanked blood sugar triggers the sympathetic nervous system which is the fight-or-fight response. BAM. You’re awake.
Why? Your body wants you to eat. So go eat some protein. Do not get sugar even though your body says to. Having protein before bed will solve this. Chemical Exposure to Nurses The Environmental Working Group has published a report about Nurses’ Health and it is on going. If you are a nurse, I encourage you to read the EWG’s Nurses’ Health and Workplaces Exposures Report. Should you have any specific questions, please do schedule a 15 minute phone consult with me. I wish you well. Comments are highly welcomed and encouraged. What helps you cope and stay healthy as a nurse? In health, Dr Ben