We all know the importance of getting the right nutrients into our bodies, but it can be hard to get everything we need through food alone. That’s where supplements come in to play. Every week there is a new pill propping up the shelves of Holland and Barrett and other health food stores. With so many options and so much conflicting information, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the supplement aisle.
Often if you have a healthy diet and eat a wide variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and meats, you often do not need extra supplementation. However many of the foods that we eat are transported from other continents, losing vital nutrients as they age. The soil quality also affects our foods, with many vegetables now low in magnesium and zinc due to poor soil quality.
When you have had an operation or you are taking a raft of medications, it’s important to keep your immune system strong and your body well nourished. It is always better to gain your vitamins and minerals through fresh, whole foods and supplements should only be used if you aren’t getting a wide variety of fresh, high quality foods. If you aren’t, here is a guide to the supplements worth adding to your daily diet to keep you fit and healthy when your body needs extra nourishment.
The health benefits of oily fish can mainly be attributed to its fatty acid content. There are 2 types of fatty acid: omega 3 and omega 6. The human body needs not only sufficient amounts of each but also a suitable ratio between the two. Oily fish are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and therefore the fall in our consumption of fish has led to a dramatic alteration in the omega 3, omega 6 ratio. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in vegetables oils, which are included in processed foods and cooking oils.
Dietary studies have revealed that until the 1850s a 1:1 ratio between the two types of fatty acid was normal in the human diet. That, however, has shifted to around 1:20 (omega 3, omega 6 ratio). Such a huge imbalance over such a short time (in evolutionary terms) means our bodies are ill-equipped to assimilate an unsuitable fat intake.
Omega 3 (EPA/DHA) contributes to:
•The maintenance of normal brain function;
•The maintenance of normal vision;
•The maintenance of normal cardiac function;
•The maintenance of normal blood pressure;
•The maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentrations of triglycerides
We therefore need to increase our intake of omega 3 fatty acids to regain the beneficial balance of oils in our diet and reap the health benefits they can give.
For example: Cytoplan Fish Oil Capsules: High Potency
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Stress depletes your body’s natural enzymes, meaning undigested food starts fermenting in your gut (yuck!). The result? Bloating and gas. Choose a formula with both types of digestive enzyme, betaine hydrochloride and pepsin. If you are having symptoms related to your stomach or a change in bowel movements please do get checked by your doctor.
For example: Biocare HCL and pepsin
Good health starts in the gut, so they say. Five billion bacteria per dose is good for general digestion, but you need 20 billion if you’re trying to tackle a bad case of IBS. Aim high. Take it away from hot drinks as this can destroy the bacteria.
For example: Quest Mega 8 Biotix
Vitamin B complex:
Nothing B list about these vitamins. They aid in converting food into ATP (energy), plus, in the long run, it has protective effects against degenerative brain conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. B Vitamins are especially depleted during times of stress. It is important to take B Vitamins together in a complex as one cannot work without the others.
For example: Cytoplan Multi B Extra
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Vitamin D is top of the deficient list, it’s easy to understand when we spend eight hours a day staring at a screen by the time you leave the office darkness is upon us. To get enough vitamin D, you need to have skin exposed to the sun for a minimum of 15 minutes per day. Not getting this? Enter vitamin D3, it protects against both bone disease and heart disease. Ask your doctor about whether you need Vitamin D.
Try it: PurePharma coconut formula D3
The ultimate energy booster, this protects your cells’ mitochondria against free radicals, giving you more energy and reducing fatigue. CoQ10 is depleted when taking a statin. Taking it is split doses appears to have more benefit than taking it it one dose. Try taking 50mg twice a day. I really like that Cytoplan is a food based supplement rather than a synthetic one.
For example: Cytoplan CoQ10 + Antioxidants A C & E
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The latest trend is to consume Greens powders – blends of different nutrients, grasses and antioxidants. Everyone from Elle Macpherson to the Mayo Clinic have been getting involved. There are plenty on the market and you can get them really cheap from Aldi in little bags or health food shops in larger tubs. The biggest problem is the taste and finding one that is palatable enough to be able to take it regularly!
I have been trialling 1 scoop per day of Lean Greens added to water every morning. It doesn’t taste like grass and is a non-offensive, easy to get down drink. I have found that it has helped with my energy levels and has stopped me craving a sugary snack later in the day. And I’m yet to get sick this year!
Lean Greens contains 5 of the most powerful grasses on the planet; wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa, chlorella and spirulina create an alkaline blend. The enzyme blend of Lactase, Lipase, Amylase, Cellulase and Bromelain in the powder helps in the absorption of fats, sugars and starches, which are often missing from most peoples day to day diets. And finally the metabolic kick created by the green tea extract and siberian ginseng helps by gently increasing your body’s fat burning capabilities.
Try it: Lean Greens 500g
Best for cold/ flu:
Echinacea is a popular herb native to North America. It is maybe the best-known herb for supporting immune health and is a common winter remedy for many people. Studies show that echinacea increases white blood cell production and activity, destroying invaders such as viruses and harmful bacteria.
For example: A.Vogel Echinacea Forte
Some tips on supplement boosting:
- Taking more than one dose of a supplement daily? Pop those at different times as some (vitamin C) only last a few hours in your blood stream.
- Swallow with food – having something in your gut will help reduce nausea or heartburn which some supplements can cause.
- Wash down with a glass of water. Tannins in tea and coffee can reduce iron absorption by as much as 60%. Water won’t interfere.
- Take them in the morning as certain vitamins can keep you awake at night. Pair with a hearty breakfast of healthy fats (avocado, eggs, nuts and seeds) as many nutrients are fat soluble, especially omega 3 and vitamins A and E.
*You should always check with your doctor and pharmacist to ensure that supplements are safe for you and do not interact with any of your medication. Please note that we do not personally recommend any of the above supplements to you specifically. The information is for interest only.