I often get asked: Do I need to supplement?
Firstly, let me ask you how do you feel?
As well as statistics like weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels which can be an indication of health, simply stopping to notice how you feel can give you real time feedback and direction.
So from 1-10 (10 being great, 1 being room for improvement) Rate yourself on:
- your energy levels?
- the appearance of your hair, skin, and nails?
- your digestion (constipation, bloating)?
- how often you catch a cold?
- how anxious do you feel?
If you answered below 8 on 2 or more you would likely see some benefit from taking a high-quality multivitamin.
THE TRUTH IS, ALMOST EVERYONE WOULD BENEFIT FROM TAKING, AT LEAST, A MULTIVITAMIN
This is for several reasons:
- It fills the gap of what might be missing from your diet
- Stress, environmental toxins, pollution, and the fast-paced nature of life all deplete our bodies of vital vitamins and minerals
- Where we could once get everything we needed from food this is no longer the case due to the condition of the soil, farming techniques, and pesticides.
But Miranda, I've heard taking supplements just gives me expensive pee?
THIS IS TRUE if you take a supplement that is synthetically made and therefore not absorbed by the body. It is important to take a supplement that is made from sources your body recognises and knows what to do with.
A high-quality multivitamin will cost a little more, but you’ll get WAY more for your money.
A FEW KEY POINTS:
🥦Nothing replaces a healthy diet. Our bodies need a healthy, balanced diet filled with fresh, whole foods to thrive. But in reality, it’s nearly impossible to get optimal levels of nutrients through food alone. You can get the “basic-keep-you-alive” amounts, but not the “optimal-thriving-healthiest-you-can-be” amounts. Stress, exercise, and hectic lifestyles also increases the amount of antioxidants the body needs; the basic RDAs just aren’t enough. Think of the supplements as insurance against nutritional deficiencies + a boost to help propel your cells to optimal functional levels.
🥦Not all supplements are created equal. The reason people think supplements don’t work is because, in truth, a lot of them don’t. The giant bottle of 1,000 daily once-per-day-tablets most likely won’t hurt you, but they sure aren’t helping anything. Even worse, and sad, many supplements on the market today aren’t “clean” (aka fish oil can be highly contaminated with mercury if not distilled properly.)
My philosophy with supplements is that we get what we pay for, and in my opinion, it’s a worthwhile investment: if we don’t have our health, we don’t have anything.
I’d rather spend a few extra £ to get something effective and potent instead of saving a few £ on something that doesn’t work.
If you need to give your IMMUNE SYSTEM additional support:
VITAMIN D: I would recommend that anyone living in a country that isn't getting sunshine at the moment supplement Vitamin D sub-lingually (that's fancy for under the tongue!). Confusingly, vitamin D is not a vitamin, but a hormone that is produced in the skin and activated by sunlight. It's very hard to produce enough vitamin D in any other way than through sunlight and is wise to supplement it if you live anywhere where the sun isn't currently shining.
VITAMIN C: You can't overdose on vitamin C as your body will excrete any that it doesn't need. If I'm feeling run down or a bit coldy I supplement an additional 1000mg vitamin C for a week.
PROBIOTICS: Your gut health effects the whole of your body and the strength of your immune system, see gut health below for more information on probiotics.
If you're VEGGIE/VEGAN (like me) there are a few additional supplements which can be worth taking:
B12 Your multivitamin should contain B vitamins (the one I take does) however you may still benefit from taking additional B12 or a methylated B complex. B12 is found in meat only if the animals have been munching on grass (i.e. not factory farmed) so many meat-eaters also need to check their B vitamin levels.
Signs you might be deficient are:
- Low energy levels
- Poor hair condition
- Pale skin
IRON It can be hard for veggies/vegans to get enough iron. Although some plants contain iron (pumpkin seeds, parsley, most nuts, raisins, and dates) the plant version of iron is 100% non-heme. The iron found in meat is 40% heme iron and 60% non-heme iron. Studies have shown that non-heme iron is not as readily absorbed as heme iron and as a result, veggies/vegans MAY need to supplement iron.
Signs you might be deficient are:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Loss of appetite
If you are experiencing these symptoms I would recommend getting your iron levels checked by your doctor.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS are mostly found in fish (especially fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and halibut.), so can be challenging for vegans/veggies. There are plants which contain omega 3s including: Chia seeds, flax seeds/oil, hemp seeds/oil and sunflower seeds. Ironically
fish themselves do not produce omega 3s. Rather, they are obtained from the algae (microalgae in particular) and plankton consumed in their diets. I recommend by-passing the middle man and going straight to the source itself! Vegan omegas are normally sourced from a variety of different seeds and seaweeds: this is the one I take.
DIGESTIVE ENZYMES If you are constantly bloated or suspect you may not be absorbing the nutrients in your food - after all, we are not what we eat, but what we absorb - I would highly recommend taking a digestive enzyme for 12 weeks before every meal to see if you notice a difference. These have made a significant difference to my digestion. These are the ones I take.
PROBIOTICS Our gut microbiome is essentially the foundation for everything in our body. It's the soil from which we grow. If you suspect you have candida, excess yeast, or unhealthy pathogens in your gut I don't recommend taking probiotics until you have pulled out the weeds.
The same as mentioned above applies to them, they are after all just mini humans. I use the below supplements on my girls (aged 7 & 4).
- We use this multi-vitamin.
- They take additional vitamin C when necessary.
- We use this vitamin D spray during the Winter months.
- We supplement iron and B vitamins if I notice signs that they need them.
- And we use these probiotics.
Please be aware that this is only a basic overview of the complex subject of supplements. If you have any specific concerns I would recommend having your bloods checked with your GP.