I am asked this question a lot. And the simple answer is that it depends!
So let me unravel the mysterious world of supplements. It can be a real minefield to understand.
Firstly, my belief is that food should always come first. Where possible, always aim to get your nutrients as part of what you are eating.
But there will be times when supplements are a good option as a practical solution in supporting your health. I often talk about “normal” not being good enough. If you want to strive for “optimal health”, then supplements can often nudge you into this bracket.
Supplements have received a lot of bad press in recent weeks. This is a shame as there is an awful lot of research surrounding them and the benefits which they can bring. Yes of course you must be careful as there are several unregulated and anecdotal reviews on the internet. So always check who is behind the product?
Have nutritionists and medical doctors been involved? This is a good way to ensure that the formulation of the supplement has been well researched and put together professionally.
Here are my top tips for navigating the world of supplements:
Don’t buy rubbish, i.e., cheap supplements from the supermarket. These are the ones that deserve the bad press. They are often full of fillers and binders. They are not easily absorbed by your body. These are the ones that can only be described as “weeing away your money”. Don’t do this!!!
Make sure that they are well formulated. This means looking for products that contain minimal or no excipients. These are fillers with no medicinal value and are used to bulk up the product. They are used when the actual active ingredient would be barely visible!! Common filers include starch, starch, calcium, salts, and sugars like lactose and even silicon dioxide.
If you see “Food state” or “Whole food supplements”, this is a good sign as they are the most bioavailable. This is because the nutrients are in food form.
Always check to see whether the supplement is contraindicated with any medications you may be taking. Also are there any allergy warnings?
And finally, remember that when you take a supplement, you may need a therapeutic dose to get the results you need. Many people will need nutrients that are above the Nutrient Reference Intake (NFR) but still under the upper safe limit. This is where you need the guidance of a good nutritionist who works with you and understands your personal situation and requirements. It’s so super important that you take the correct dose for you. And it may well be very different from your mates. So do take advice.
As a practioner I buy my supplements from the Natural Dispensary. They have a great selection of brands. You too can register for an account – you will need to mention that you have been referred by me – Nikki Durnford to set this up.