Most dieticians agree that if you eat a varied diet full of healthy fresh food, you are probably getting all the vitamins and minerals your body requires, so a supplement is not needed.
Eating the rainbow and a wide spectrum of foods should provide you with all the micro (vitamins and minerals) and macro (fats, proteins, carbohydrates) nutrients that your body needs to be healthy and strong.
If you do wish to take a supplement, it should not be used as a replacement for a healthy diet. As the name ‘supplement’ suggests, its job is merely to give your body a little boost of a certain vitamin, mineral or herb, not to replace it.
Antioxidant Vitamins A, C, E
These vitamins are naturally available in many foods but if you are a city dweller facing a lot of pollution or rarely manage to eat adequate amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables an antioxidant boosting formula may be ideal.
Eat me: sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges, strawberries, leafy greens, avocados, nuts, seeds…
B12 is mainly found in meat, fish and dairy products therefore vegans and vegetarians are often low in B12. This vitamin helps maintain healthy nerve cells, boost energy levels, protect the cardiovascular system and supports DNA health, which encourages youthful cells.
Eat me: fish, red meat, dairy, eggs, fortified products like cereal
Vegans, those who are dairy free due to intolerance, allergy or choice, and those with brittle bone diseases might benefit from a calcium supplement, ideally one with vitamin D to aid calcium absorption into the bones.
Eat me: dairy products, leafy greens, soya beans, tofu, fish with edible bones (sardines/pilchards), fortified products, cacao powder
The main source of vitamin D is sunshine; we obtain little from food. If you live in a country like England that rarely sees sunshine, a top up of the happiness vitamin is probably needed, particularly between the months of october and march.
Eat me: oily fish, egg yolks, fortified products, mushrooms and caviar darling
Folic acid (B9)
If you are thinking of getting pregnant or are already pregnant it is essential that you consume enough folic acid as it plays a major role in preventing neural tube defects in the foetus, such as spina bifida.
Eat me: leafy greens, citrus fruit, nutritional yeast, beans, fortified products
Menstruating women, vegans and vegetarians are often low in this vital mineral.
Iron is needed to transports oxygen in haemoglobin, from the lungs to various parts of your body. Without enough iron you’ll feel tired and dizzy, look pallid and possibly experience heart palpitations or shortness of breath.
Eat me: red meat, seafood, dark leafy greens, beans, chickpeas, lentils, cacao powder
Omega 3 fatty acids have multiple benefits from supporting brain health and fighting depression to reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke and auto immune diseases.
The best source of omega 3 fatty acids is from oily fish so vegans, vegetarians and those who dislike fish may benefit from a supplement.
Eat me: oily fish, nuts, seeds, egg yolks
Most of us don’t really need a multi vitamin but fussy eaters or those who struggle to get their 5 a day may wish to take a supplement to ensure their body is receiving all the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Eat me: fruit, vegetables and a wide variety of whole fresh foods
Scientists are discovering that a healthy gut is responsible for so many more things that previously thought. The gastrointernal system is now being referred to as the body’s second brain and a person’s overall health can be directly linked to the health of their gut flora.
If you suffer from digestive or bowel problems such as IBS, are on antibiotics, have persistent acne or are travelling your gut bacteria may be out of balance.
Look for a multi strain probiotic with a viable count of least 1 billion bacteria, ideally in a prebiotic (FOS) base.
Eat me: yogurt, kombucha, miso soup, sauerkraut, tempeh, microalgae
NOTE: Supplements should not be taken if you’re due to have surgery, as they can effect blood clotting. Talk to your doctor about dietary supplements if you are pregnant, on medication or unsure.
A Guide to Buying
When it comes to buying supplements a bit of research is required. The supplement market is HUGE and it can seem a minefield, with thousands of products promising to solve all your problems in one tiny pill.
- Look for a reputable seller/brand: Health Span, Holland and Barrett, Woods, Solgar, viridian, or even supermarkets own.
- Read the ingredients: a good quality product should not contain a long list of non active extra bulking ingredients.
- Read the brand ethos & customer reviews
- Beware of dodgy pills on the internet and do not be seduced by a hefty price tag (price is not always indicative of quality), hype or marketing lies:
“Skinny Pill. 7 unheard of ingredients that you make you a size 6 in a week*.”
*common side effects include: violent vomiting, extreme diarrhoea and bleeding from various orifices.
What I Take*
– Pro 5 probiotic: I take it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach so that the first nutrients my digestive system receives is healthy gut supporting bacteria.
– Calcium & vitamin D: I’m lactose intolerant, and therefore don’t eat dairy. I make sure to keep my calcium levels up by crushing a tablet and blending it into my breakfast smoothie bowl.
– Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): for my acne. 2 months post Roaccutane my cystic chin acne returned and there was no way I was letting the bastard take up permanent residence on my face, again. After much research, I found that a common ingredient in natural acne pills and skin serums was vitamin A and B5. B5, along with natural skincare, seems to keep my chin acne at bay.
-Evening Primrose oil: massively helps with PMS, balancing my hormones and calming my skin.
-Marine collagen: I have just started taking this before bed, to hopefully strengthen my limp hair and weak teeth, plump my skin and support my crappy joints (a trait that sadly runs in the family).
*Please note that this is what works for me but as you are biologically different and lead a different life, therefore I don’t encourage you to follow the same regime.
Hope this information helped you. x
On another note, my family have just booked to go to Bali in September. I can’t wait to discover Balinese culture and share all my foodie finds. I’m definitely lacking vitamin sea.