If we eat a healthy, balanced diet then we shouldn’t need to take supplements right?
Unfortunately, many of us don’t eat what we should. We live in a world now where supermarkets are full of processed, high sodium, high sugar, high fat, nutritionally deficient foods, ready meals and snacks.
Even if we stay away from all that and eat our seven a day, cook everything from scratch, using only whole foods, it is still incredibly difficult to get every vitamin and mineral our bodies need, through diet alone.
Our fruit and vegetables are not what they used to be. The loss of nutrition in our food over the last 60 years is mainly down to our modern and intensive agricultural methods. The use of pesticides and fertilisers and the sheer volume grown, have stripped the soil, leaving it depleted from those vital nutrients. Then add to that the amount of time the food is stored and takes to process…
So not only are we not eating as much fresh produce as we used to, it’s also not as good for us!
We already know that through taking certain types of supplements we are preventing real health problems. Folic acid for example is prescribed to pregnant women to significantly reduce the risk of birth defects. Iron tablets are recommended if suffering from Anemia etc.
Deficiencies in vitamin A, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron, Iodine, Calcium and Magnesium are now fairly common place. Causing various symptoms such as fatigue, light headedness, memory loss, depression, constipation, diarrhoea, insomnia, dry skin, loss of appetite, headaches and muscle cramps. I bet there are many of us, walking around just living with these symptoms, and accepting them as normal ‘hectic life’ side effects.
Vitamins and Minerals are essential nutrients that the body needs to grow, develop and function but cannot make and therefore need to be ingested. In this day and age, the solution must be nutritional supplements.
Bearing in mind, supplements are just that and are not a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle.
There are so many to choose from, however, many well-known products available in the supermarket or health store are lacking in quantity and quality of nutrients and full of other things that most people are unaware of.
If you already take supplements, then have look at the label to see exactly what is listed. We all trust well known, off the shelf brands and unfortunately they have some rather questionable ingredients. I’m hopefully going to open your eyes as to exactly what it is you are ingesting and why, most of it, is just helping your body to make expensive urine.
What to look out for.
Firstly, this is one of those times where you do get what you pay for. The quality of the ingredients is usually reflected in the price.
Are the vitamins and minerals derived from whole foods, plants and herbs or are they laboratory created chemicals?
The latter is a synthetic, imitation vitamin compound that your body struggles to recognise and fully process (hence the expensive urine). These typically list their ingredients by their isolated names for example:-
Ascorbic acid instead of Vitamin C,
Cyanocobalamin instead of Vitamin B12.
DL before a name also indicates the synthetic version for example dl-alpha tocopherol instead of vitamin E.
Artificial additives, chemical colourings, binders, synthetic flow agents, coatings and preservatives!
Why put all that good stuff into a supplement and then a little bit of bad? It makes absolutely no sense. If we are trying to nourish and protect our bodies then those toxic and non-beneficial substances are the last thing we want to be swallowing.
Magnesium Stearate /Stearic acid. We could be forgiven for thinking that this was good for us due to it’s name. In fact it is not a source of nutritive magnesium. It is an anti-caking agent with no other use than to stop the manufacturing machinery from clogging up. Scarily, it could in fact cause harm and actually stop your body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients. How ironic.
Titanium Dioxide. This is a metal used as a colourant and not a natural food ingredient. Studies have shown that long-term exposure to this can lead to problems with immune function in the body.
Dicalcium phosphate. A cheap, inorganic form of calcium, used to bulk out tablets.
Hydrogenated oils. If we avoid these in our diet then why would we want them in our supplements?
These are just a few of the added extras that are lurking in your supplements.
Capsules vs tablets
Some manufacturers lead us to believe that more product can be packed into a pill. In actual fact, these tablets need binders to hold them together. These are not natural substances and they have no nutritional value.
The ingredients are also compressed under very high pressure which causes a significant amount of heat. This heat has the potential to destroy some of the nutrients in the tablet.
Capsules are only filled with product and therefore tend to be more bioavailable. They have no sharp edges or corners and can be easily swallowed and digested. They are not compressed or heated and because of this usually cost more to produce.
What is the dosage?
Typically, there is not enough room in a one a day multi vitamin, to pack in what we need. Look for, ‘twice a day’ and ‘to be taken with meals’ as this will be better absorbed.
How are they graded?
Most health shop, pharmacy and supermarket supplements are only nutritional grade or food grade. This means that they are fit for human consumption, may or may not contain what is listed on the label, could contain fillers and may or may not be produced under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
Pharmaceutical grade supplements however are made under GMP conditions. They are pure, safe and reliable. Every step of the process is quality controlled from sourcing the ingredients to the standard of equipment and facilities that the products are made in.
Ideally, supplements will have whole food ingredients with no nasty extras, in a natural coloured capsule (or one that uses natural dye), with possibly more than one a day required and pharmaceutical grade! You can find them here.
Please remember, it’s not just about what you put into your body but what your body is able to absorb.