Should we take supplements?

Are you confused about supplements? In this short video I explain what to look out for when it comes to choosing supplements.

Have a watch and if you’d like to find out more, get in touch and let’s have a chat!

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Hello everyone, Today I wanted to talk to you about supplements. Should we take them? You may be of an option we shouldn’t, or we should, or you may think they don’t work, or they do. What is it then? The simple answer is: it depends.

Nowadays, many people have diets that are low in nutrients. Processed foods, ready meals, take-aways, confectionary, snacks are a reason behind this. But even if you eat a nutrient-dense diet, you still may be deficient in some nutrients, as the soil in which the food is grown has been becoming poorer and poorer in nutrients, thus food is not as nutritious as it used to be. Check this research study to find out more.

Then, elimination type of diets, or restrictive diets, may results in deficiency of certain nutrients. For example, a vegan diet tends to be low in nutrients that come from animal sources such as iron, B12, vitamin D, or omega3.

But anyone who restricts or eliminates food groups from their diet for whatever reason, would benefit from a careful meal planning to avoid deficiencies in the long term. Taking supplements for a period of time can help replenish the nutrients quicker. Here’s an interesting study on nutrient density in foods, and you can see which foods are the most nutrient-dense.

Then, we need to consider the absorption, and that will differ from person to person, and it will depend on:

  • your gut health (poor gut health, parasites, bloating, diarrhoea will reduce absorption,)
  • medications taken (e.g. antiacids will lower absorption of B12)
  • what you eat and drink with your supplements (empty stomach, with food, dairy and iron or foods rich in vitamin C)
  • what supplements you take together, e.g. long term zinc supplementation can cause copper deficiency, and vice versa, so it’s best to take them together, or iron absorption is decreased by calcium and dairy, but increased by vitamin C.

Next, we need to consider the quality of supplements. Cheaper supplements are more likely to have many fillers & additives, the dose of the nutrient is likely to be low too. With many supplements you need a therapeutic dose to see the effects and benefits.

Moreover, cheaper supplements often use the version of the nutrient that’s not easily absorbable in the gut. calcium carbonate or magnesium oxide are good examples but they are cheaper to obtain so often used to keep the supplements costs down. A lot of supplements in supermarkets, Boots, Holland & Barret will be made with cheaper nutrients, but nutritionist have access to various professional dispensaries which stock high quality supplements that they can recommend to clients.

The delivery of the nutrients also matters, so the absorption will be different between a capsule, tablet, powder, spray, liquid or IV. For example, taking a spray or liquid is more beneficial if someone has digestive issues as the nutrients can be absorbed through the mouth, without passing through the digestive system.

Lastly, some nutrients can be harmful if taken in big quantities. For example, it’s always good to check blood levels of iron before supplementing as iron overload is toxic. Vitamin D3 and iodine are another example of nutrients that should be tested before supplementing and then regularly re-tested. Other nutrients, such as most of the B vitamins, are water soluble and we don’t store them in the body, which means it’s more difficult to over-dose on them as we wee them out daily. Similarly with vitamin C and magnesium – the side effect of taking too much is a transient loose bowel movement, so they act like laxatives, which may be unpleasant, but not harmful.

A word of cautions here, some supplements may interact with medications, so something to bear in mind if you on prescriptive medications.

As you can see, there is quite a lot to consider when it comes to supplements. If you buy cheap supplements and you have poor gut health, the chances are you won’t absorb a lot, and you will claim the supplements are useless.

Or, if you feel tired and decide to take iron as you’ve heard it can help with fatigue, but you are not deficient in iron, the supplement won’t do anything for you. And this can make you think supplements are pointless. By the way, there are many underlying causes of fatigue, iron deficiency is just one of them, so you may be trying to address the wrong root cause.

But if, for example, you’ve been advised by a nutritionist which supplement to take based on your symptoms and/or blood test results, what form and dose to take, you are more likely to noticed the effects.

I hope this has clarified some things for you. If you have any questions, drop me line and let’s have a chat.

Till next time! Bye bye.

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