Exploring the world is a marvelous thing. Hauling a bag of supplements with you is not. Depending on the trip ahead and your current health status (for example, are you working to heal an imbalance? Following a strict diet like the autoimmune protocol?), there are a few guidelines for supplements to help keep you healthy and balanced on your trip.
You want to keep your digestion running smoothly and your immune system in tip top shape when you travel. No one wants to face traveler’s diarrhea or an illness during a vacation. I’ve written here about dietary tips and keeping healthy during travel. Now let’s look at supplements that will enhance your journey without weighing you down.
Basic Supplements for Travel
- Good ole Vitamin C: this will keep your immune system perky and nourish your adrenals, which govern your stress response. You can grab a small canister of this vitamin C in powder form to mix with water, or this vitamin C is what I recommend. Both include bioflavonoids for enhanced absorption. Take 500 – 2,000 (in 500mg at a time doses; your body can’t absorb more than that at a time) daily.
- Probiotics: don’t leave this one at home, folks. I recommend two kinds. This one is a great overall probiotic to keep digestion running smoothly; take 2 daily. It does not need to be refrigerated. And do not leave home without Saccharomyces Boulardii! This is the savior you need if you get hit with diarrhea. If you do, you can take up to 6 regular probiotic capsules (one every couple hours) and 3-4 of the Saccharomyces Boulardii before bed for relief. Continue taking 3-4 sac b daily. This guy is also your friend if you have to take antibiotics for any reason. They’ll help keep your gut healthy during a course of antibiotics.
- Magnesium: this one is excellent for stubborn bowels. Constipation is super common during travel, especially abroad, so this is a great one to have on hand. It’s also excellent for tight muscles, lowering blood pressure, and relaxing the nervous system. You can take 200-300mg 2-3 times daily, or take 500 mg before bed for constipation relief. Be aware that too much will cause the runs (but they won’t stick around). Here’s more info on why we desperately need magnesium in our lives.
Bonus: if you are strictly gluten free, gluten intolerant, or have Celiac, I highly recommend you pick up some GlutenFlam. It is an enzyme and anti-inflammatory/gut soothing nutrient mix to help you digest gluten and reduce some of the inflammation it causes the gut lining if you are exposed.
Supplements for Foreign Travel
In addition to vitamin C and a probiotic, add these to the mix.
- Melatonin: though I don’t recommend regular use of melatonin, it works very well for helping your body clock adjust to time zone changes. Take at night before bed when you arrive at your destination, even if you are wide awake. You can take up to 1-3 grams. If you have trouble sleeping in general, I highly recommend these little chewables for overall insomnia. No one wants to be tired and crabby on vacation!
- Digestive enzymes (optional but recommended): this enzyme and hydrochloric acid combo will help your body break down and digest food. When you’re under stress (long travel and no sleep is at the top of what your body considers stressful), digestion slows and suffers, and that means bloating and constipation. These guys will help. Take 2 with each meal.
Bonus: I never leave home without Young Living’s DiGize. It’s a blend of essential oils that ease heartburn, bloating, belching, or any unpleasant indigestion symptoms. Simply rub a few drops on your belly or take 2 drops internally. Same goes for peppermint oil.
Aside from vitamin C and a probiotic (don’t forget your Saccharomyces Boulardii!), you’re going to want to watch out for food poisoning and bacterial or parasite infections if you’re heading to Mexico, South America, Africa, etc. Guess what: You can prevent food poisoning, even if you’re exposed! That’s right! Your stomach acid should be a pH of 2 to kill off unwanted hitchhikers who make their way into your gut via contaminated food. If your body is producing enough hydrochloric acid (most of us are not, which is why we suffer with bloating and heartburn), the acid kills them. If your stomach acid is too alkaline, you can’t kill off the bad guys, and bam, there’s your food poisoning/parasite infection. Make sure you take digestive enzymes after every meal for this reason.
- Activated charcoal is your friend if you get hit with food poisoning. It’s used in the ER for overdose emergencies as it binds to poisons and prevents them from being absorbed. Also works great for gas! Take this away from other supplements because it will decrease their effectiveness.
- Oil of oregano is nature’s antibiotic. Take it if you have food poisoning or are exposed to cold, flu, or other illness. You can take 2 caps 3x/day of this one.
- For general preventive measures, you can take an anti-parasite formula like this one the entire time you’re traveling. It will kill parasites, yeast, and most bacterial pathogens.
- GABA is excellent if you struggle with anxiety or anxiety about flying. Just pop these lozenges anytime you feel anxious. I recommend this one only because it’s the most absorbable form that crosses the blood-brain barrier.
- If you struggle with cravings, you can try this blood sugar balancer to help ward off sugar cravings. If you struggle with binge behavior, cigarettes, or booze, this one’s your guy. You need to take 2 capsules twice daily, and it’s not for you if you take SSRIs or MAO inhibitors.
- For general stress relief (you’re going to visit your family, let’s just say), I love this herbal adrenal support along with vitamin C.
- A B vitamin complex is never a bad idea to boost energy and circulation and tone your nervous system.
Do you take supplements when you travel? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.