Do I need to take supplements? Are supplements beneficial? Which supplements should I take?
I get asked so many questions about supplements. My general answer is minerals and vitamins are essential for good health and we should be able to get sufficient amounts from a eating a balanced nutritious diet.
Yet there are factors which mean this does not always happen.
There is some thought that vegetables and fruits and grains are not as nutritious as they used to be.
The storing of foods for long periods can deplete some fruits and vegetables of vital nutrients.
Lifestyle choices can mean we are not always getting the nutrients we need. Whether that’s because we have eliminated certain foods from our diets, are dealing with stress, consuming too many vitamin depleting foods such as caffeine or alcohol or suffering with seasonal viruses.
Also, some digestive issues can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the essential nutrients from your diet, leading to nutrient deficiencies.
While I always encourage people to get the essential nutrients from their diet, some need a little boost now and then, as food alone isn’t enough.
Supplements should never be used to replace a healthy, balanced diet.
Symptoms of vitamin deficiency
Common symptoms of vitamin deficiency can include:
- Feeling tired
- Low energy or mood
- Increased susceptibility to illness
If you’re going to take supplements then it should be thought through properly. Some people take supplements at the wrong times, others take too many and some just don’t need them. So while supplements can be helpful, they can also cause harm or have little effect if you don’t know what you need to take and how to take them.
A good start is to find out what you are deficient in. I would always recommend a blood test, especially after 40. A blood test will provide an accurate account of what minerals and vitamins you are deficient in. Your GP may help, or you can get a really detailed analysis from a qualified nutritionist.
There are 7 key minerals and vitamins we all need and which you will be able to get from a balanced diet:
- Vitamin D (sun is the best source)
- Vitamin B-12.
The most common deficiencies in women are iron, calcium, and vitamin D.
It’s easy to get iron from food, so you should only take an iron supplement if your doctor recommends it. Taking too much of it can be harmful.
Supplements that I would recommend
All of these recommendations are in addition to a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.
Take a good quality multivitamin suitable for your age and gender. You need to make sure it has the seven key ingredients mentioned above: Vitamin D, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, Iron, Folate, Vitamin B-12.
This is a must during the cold winter months. Normally you would get plenty of Vitamin D from the sun. But during autumn and winter, we don’t get enough sunlight.
This is essential if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. You take it daily up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Zinc is essential for good health. I would recommend Men to take a zinc supplement as it’s needed for a healthy prostate.
My all-time favourite vitamin as it is the best to strengthen your immune system and fight off infection. It’s also very good for the skin, improving collagen production.
When taking vitamin C for the first time, you want to take it in small amounts. 500mg 4 times a day. If you are not used to it and take a large dose, you can get a tummy ache.
A good quality omega-3 is essential for cardiovascular and brain health. You can get a fish oil or a plant based oil like flax seed. Do not take if you are on blood thinners as fish oils thin the blood.
Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health, so make sure you are getting enough daily.
A must for anyone over 40. It’s one of the main minerals that our bodies need in fairly large amounts to be able to function properly. It is known as nature’s tranquiliser. It is good for the nerves and muscles. You can take it as an oral supplement or a transdermal spray which is applied to the skin.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, you could be prone to vitamin B-12 deficiency because most food sources are animal-based like meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.
When to take vitamins
Multi vitamins, B vitamins, and vitamin C should be taken during the day as they provide energy. Magnesium in the evenings as it calms the body and promotes sleep.
Some supplements compete with one another and shouldn’t be taken together. For example, never taken calcium together with iron. If you are taking a number of supplements then make sure you get advice on this.
Vitamin C taken with Iron will help the body absorb the iron better.
Other supplements can interfere with certain medications. Magnesium, for example, is often recommended to take hours apart from certain medications. If you are on medication always consult your doctor before taking any supplement.
Choosing a good quality supplement
The supplement industry is worth a lot of money, so naturally every company will claim theirs are the best. But not all supplements are created equally.
Do your research and get advice from a trusted source.
I hope you have found this article useful. If you want to improve your diet to ensure you are getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals then get in touch. I have a number of offers and ways you can work with me which could help.