Are vitamins really that good for you? We look at which supplements are worth taking.
Many of us take one supplement or another every day, and we might be more encouraged to do so at this time of year – but are they really doing us any good? Here’s all you need to know…
What did you have for breakfast this morning? Toast? A bowl of cereal? Perhaps a multivitamin, because you never quite hit your daily fruit and veg quota; or an omega 3 to boost your flagging brain power?
Every day, millions of us – an estimated 38% of the population – take vitamins and dietary supplements to stay healthy and ease illnesses, spending £385 million a year in the UK. But could we be wasting our money?
“The body struggles to absorb and use some supplements effectively,” explains nutritionist Libby Limon. “So they should only be taken to redress an imbalance – for example, if you are depleted in certain nutrients because you aren’t getting them through your diet, or you have a higher need due to exercise, stress or illness.”
“Before you consider taking supplements, ask yourself a number of questions,” says nutritional therapist Jacqueline Newson.
What are the potential benefits of taking this?
What is the proper dose for me?
Are there any safety risks with this product?
When and how should I take this product and for how long?
Some vitamins may have a negative effect on certain medications. For example, “vitamin K can reduce the ability of blood thinners such as warfarin to prevent blood from clotting,” warns Jacqueline.
It’s always advisable to seek professional advice before taking supplements. Speak to your GP, especially if you take regular medication, or contact the supplement company directly.
Gimmick or good for you?
Do you really need them?
Before you take any supplements, take a look at your diet.
“It is really important that we eat a varied mix of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, adequate protein, a little dairy food and plenty of fruit and vegetables,” says Jacqueline.
“Supplements should be used to enhance a healthy diet, not as a substitute for actual food. Real whole food provides thousands of nutrients that work together to promote good health and this cannot be duplicated with a cocktail of supplements.”
But if your diet is less than perfect, you can’t – or won’t – cook, or have a chronic illness, then some supplementation, like a multivitamin, will be beneficial.
Is expensive better?
Often, the price of more expensive vitamin supplements is due to better quality ingredients.
“Good quality supplements have more easily absorbed nutrients at higher dosages,” explains Libby. “You really do get what you pay for in terms of nutritional supplements. If you buy cheap, they probably won’t do you any harm but probably won’t do you any good, either.”
Try taking a quality wholefood supplement such as Real Health Wholefood Women’s Multi, £15.99 for 30, which contains no synthetic ingredients and is easily absorbed by the body.
If you browse the web and read news pieces, magazine articles or blog posts on a regular basis, chances are you have come across lots of different opinions about vitamins and supplements. It can be very confusing, especially if you are just introducing yourself to a healthier lifestyle and you’re considering adding supplements to your diet.
Where do you begin?
Well, first of all, before you begin any diet or exercise program, (yes that includes supplements, too) consult with your doctor. Now, do a little research. Have you identified places your diet may have nutritional “holes”? Remember, dietary supplements are not intended to replace food. They are also not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease.
A good place to start is a multivitamin. Think of multivitamins as the basis for your supplement routine. Ordinarily, multivitamins aim to help provide the essential vitamins and minerals needed in a single daily serving. Multivitamins typically come in different formulations for varying nutritional needs based on gender and age. For instance, there are senior-specific multis that take into consideration the concerns of people over the age of 50. Senior-specific multis may focus on heart-healthy vitamins and minerals.** There are also more specialized formulations for senior men or senior women, which take into account the nutritional needs of these very specific groups. There are pre-natal vitamins aimed at women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant. There are even great-tasting multivitamins designed to help children meet their daily nutritional needs as well.
So, you’ve heard of this formula on numerous occasions, but you have no idea what it is or what it does. Co Q-10 is short for Coenzyme Q-10. This supplement is best known for helping to support a healthy cardiovascular system.** Co Q-10 naturally appears in almost every cell in the body and our Co Q-10 levels may decrease with age.** Co Q-10 helps our bodies convert food to energy and may also be important to nervous system health.** In addition, individuals who take Statin medications may have lower Co Q-10 levels. Keep in mind that Co Q-10 is not intended to serve as a replacement for Statin therapy, nor should you discontinue taking any prescribed medications while supplementing with Coenzyme Q-10. And, Co Q-10 supports good oral health.** Did you know that good oral health is linked to cardiovascular (heart) health? Co Q-10 supports both!** There are many different formulations and supplements that provide Co Q-10. Some of these formulations include other herbs, minerals and vitamins to help support antioxidant health**. Coenzyme Q-10 is available in an advanced form called Ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is a naturally occurring, fat-soluble antioxidant. Ubiquinol helps to fight cell-damaging free radicals, and plays a role in helping the body convert food to energy.** It also supports cardiovascular health and wellness promoting healthy circulation through myocardial tissue.**
Fish Oil supplements have gotten a lot of press lately, so chances are you have probably heard or read about them lately. Here’s what you need to know about Fish Oil supplements. Fish oils contain heart healthy nutrients you need called Omega-3 Fatty Acids.** Fish Oils contain EPA and DHA, the important fatty acids that help benefit the heart, joints and bones.**
Omega-3 fatty acids are derived from many sources. Which source you prefer is entirely up to you. So, where exactly can you get these beneficial fatty acids? You can choose from cod liver, salmon and krill oil. Puritan’s Pride fish oil supplements are all purified to eliminate mercury. Our Cod Liver Oil provides an abundant source of Vitamins A and D that help maintain strong bones and a healthy immune system.** In addition, Vitamin A in our Cod Liver Oil assists eyesight and skin maintenance and vitamin D helps maintain strong bones.** Krill Oil, derived from small crustaceans, naturally contains Astaxanthin. Depending on your preference, you can get liquid fish oil, softgels, chewable tablets and even gummy supplements. Browse Our Fish Oil Supplements Vitamin D
According to recent studies, up to 75% of adults and teens could use more Vitamin D.1 Sunlight provides a good source of Vitamin D, but many of us aren’t spending enough time in the sun these days to provide adequate levels of this important vitamin. People who live in northern climates often have reduced levels of Vitamin D, especially during the winter months. Many health experts recommend that adults get approximately 2000 IU of vitamin D every day for optimal health benefits.** Why is Vitamin D important to us? Vitamin D assists in the absorption of Calcium.**
As we age, vitamin D absorption decreases, and the skin produces vitamin D less efficiently. To complicate matters, very few foods in nature contain Vitamin D, making it more important to find alternative supplements. Vitamin D is available in many forms including tablets, liquids, chewables and softgels, giving you lots of options to get your daily dose.
By now, most of us understand that we can get Vitamin C from citrus fruits and other dietary sources. But, how many of us know why Vitamin C is an important nutrient? There are a few reasons our bodies require this vitamin. Vitamin C helps aid in the formation of collagen.** Collagen is an amino acid-rich substance, which can provide raw materials for connective tissues like ligaments and bones.** Vitamin C helps aid our immune system health.** And, Vitamin C is a “super antioxidant” that helps fight cell-damaging free radicals.** Because our bodies require Vitamin C and because we cannot make or store Vitamin C, we have to get our daily dose from food and supplements. Since many of us don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables to reach our daily recommendation, it may be necessary to supplement. The good news is that Vitamin C supplements come in several forms, many of them with tasty flavors we enjoy! To find out how much is recommended for your age and gender, you can view a chart on the Office of Dietary Supplements website. You may copy and paste this address into your browser http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/ to find out more.