Walk into any health food shop, supermarket or pharmacy and the shelves will be bursting with bottles and boxes that contain tablets, capsules and liquid drops that will (according to the blurb) have you feeling better, fitter and healthier.
But the big question is do we need to take these vitamin supplements or is there another alternative?
There are certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are essential for keeping the body functioning and healthy, including 13 vitamins – A, C, D, E, K and the eight B vitamins. The body only needs them in minute amounts. Most of us can get enough of these by eating a healthy balanced diet and, in the case of vitamin D, from getting enough sunlight. However, certain vitamin supplements may be beneficial to some groups of people, such as the elderly, pregnant women and children between six months and five years old. Or if you have a restricted diet i.e. being vegan
To decide whether or not you need to take supplements I would always recommend you visit your GP and have some blood tests.
If you don’t want to do that or your GP is unwilling to do some tests, there are lots of companies out there who will, but unfortunately they have to charge. One such company is Medichecks https://www.medichecks.com a UK based organisation that I have personally met and spoken to. If you have any questions they are only too happy to help and their staff are all medically trained doctors or nurses. There is an added bonus of a 20% discount if you use this code
Once you have your results you can then book a nutrition session (or series of sessions) with me and I can help support you to make any necessary changes
Your lifestyle can affect your nutrient uptake
Stress – produces cortisol, which can affect your metabolism and loss of essential nutrients like magnesium (needed for sleep and stress relief), calcium (bones, heart rhythm)
Obesity – often as a result of poor portion control or a less varied/more processed diet that lacks nutrients – sugary foods hinder the uptake of magnesium
Tiredness and poor sleep – not allowing time for the body to repair and renew
Processed foods, ready meals and takeaways – These foods can be high in fat, salt, sugar and calories. And may lead to digestive issues, increased weight, reduced fibre intake and lack of nutrients
Lack of activity – can lead to weaker bones and a potential surplus of calories
Smoking – destroys lots of beneficial gut bacteria
Alcohol – can affect the gut bacteria
last week I spoke to Mark Dennison on his BBC Nottingham breakfast show about whether we should or should not supplement our diets
Each nutrient has a specific role to play:
|Vital nutrient||What it does||High in|
|Vitamin A||Needed for good for eyesight and healthy skin||Yellow, red & green (leafy) veg, sweet potatoes, red peppers, yellow fruit (mango, apricots, Sharon fruit) dairy, eggs, oily fish, liver|
|Vitamin B group||Helps the body to breakdown release energy from food, maintain a healthy nervous system, make healthy red blood cells||Peas, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, soya beans, chickpeas, peanuts, fresh and dried fruit, rice, oats, wholegrains, fortified breakfast cereal, eggs, liver, milk, fish, cheese|
|Vitamin C||Helps to keep cells healthy||Oranges, berries, kiwi, broccoli, potatoes|
|Vitamin D||Helps to regulate calcium and is essential for strong bones and teeth,||The sunshine, mushrooms, oily fish, egg yolks, fortified foods, red meat, liver|
|Vitamin E||Needed to maintain cell structure.||Plant oils (olive, soya, rapeseed), nuts and seeds, wheatgerm, avocados|
|Vitamin K||Needed for blood clotting to help wound heal||Green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, cereal grains|
|Zinc||Helps make new cells, breakdown food and wound healing||Wheatgerm, cereal, bread, dairy, meat and shellfish|
|Turmeric (active ingredient circumin)||Linked to reducing cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis (TOO EARLY TO SAY)||Take with black pepper. Check with GP about existing medications|
|Pro and prebiotic||Prebiotics feed the good bacteria that live in the gutProbiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health||Prebiotics – onions, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, green leafy veg, over the counter yoghurt drinksProbiotics – live yoghurt (dairy and non dairy), kefir (fermented dairy and non dairy), kombucha (fermented black and green tea), tempeh (fermented soya beans), kimchi (fermented vegetables and spice) sauerkraut (fermented cabbage). Miso (soya bean paste), Pickles, soft cheeses, sourdough bread|
With a few exceptions (niacin and vitamin D), our bodies cannot make these substances, meaning we need to obtain them from other sources such as food. If you have low levels of certain vitamins, you may develop a deficiency disease. Too little vitamin D, for example, could lead to rickets in children, not enough Iron could lead to anaemia.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that vitamin C and B vitamins are water-soluble and are used rapidly by the body; any excess is excreted out when you go to the loo. So you could be literally flushing money down the drain
Whereas fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body, when taken in excess they could damage cells and organs particularly vitamin A and the liver
Zinc There is evidence that taking zinc within a day of developing symptoms of a cold reduces the duration of the cold by about a day and that regular supplementation (for at least five months) protects people against catching colds.
You will have realised that fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains are littered throughout the above table, so my advice to you is make sure these nutritious and delicious foods are regularly and consistently incorporated in to your diet.
But if you do have concerns about your health then please visit your GP, and then come and see me and I will help support you to make any changes.
Attending my vegan cooking class might be a good place to start