I’m a fan of supplements but only to SUPPLEMENT the diet. I’m also a big believer that we live in a world where we are lacking in many nutrients because our diets rely on quick fixes and convenience foods that aren’t nutrient-dense. Stress is also a major robber of vitamins and minerals, especially the energy nutrients – magnesium, B12, iron and potassium.
SO I do use supplements but usually after a series of testing to identify specific deficiencies. However, here is the low down on supplements;
1) You do get what you pay for when it comes to supplements so make sure you get them from reputable places such as Whole Foods Market, Planet Organic or Revital. These companies care about your health and the products they stock are of better quality.
2) Be mindful of the supplements available from the high street such as Tesco, Boots and Holland and Barrett because the bioavailability (which means the absorption rate) is poor, the dosages tend to be a lot lower and they are often packed with fillers and preservatives such as caking agents.
3) As a rule of thumb if you can’t pronounce it – don’t eat it.
Here are my top 10 tips when choosing supplements:
1) Avoid minerals in the form of oxides, sulphates and carbonates, which are difficult for your body to absorb. Choose those in the form of citrates instead. It is estimated that you will absorb only 6% magnesium when the mineral is in the form of magnesium oxide compared to 90% when it is magnesium citrate.
2) Choose a natural form of vitamin E (labelled d-alpha-tocopherol) rather than the synthetic version (DL-alpha-tocopherol), which is not so easily absorbed.
3) Choose vitamin B6 as pyridoxal-5-phosphate, not the cheaper pyridoxine as it is easier for your body to use.
4) Buy vitamin D as D3 cholecalciferol, not the D2 (ergocalciferol as D3 is the active form and 87% more effective at raising and maintaining levels.
5) Take vitamin C as an ascorbate rather than ascorbic acid.
6) When buying fish oils make sure the EPA and DHA ratios are 770mg and 510m respectively. 6) 7) Avoid cod liver oils which are extracted from the liver of the fish rather than the body of the fish as the liver contains the toxins and heavy metals such as mercury.
8) If taking iron supplements some can be constipated. The best form of iron that does not cause this is iron bisglycinate.
9) When choosing probiotics avoid the yoghurt based ones as these are loaded with sugar. It’s best to get either powdered or capsule versions. Watch out for maltodextrin as this is also a sugar which can lead to blood sugar fluctuations. Instead, go for probiotics with FOS (Fructooligosaccharides). These help to feed the existing friendly bacteria in your gut. Aim to get ones that have at least 22 billion organisms.
10) Silicon Dioxide aka Silica functions as an anti-caking agent to prevent foods from absorbing moisture and clumping together. No scientific research has found whether it is a necessary nutrient for our bodies, nor has research found any signs that it causes harm to the body.