- To Supplement or Not to Supplement, That is the Question
I recently read an article in a national newspaper claiming that 46 % of Britons are taking some form of supplement. That is approximately 1 in 2 people. The supplement industry is big business, and it is often tempting too self prescribe.
A balanced, varied diet should enable individuals to eat and drink enough vitamins, minerals and omega oils to ensure a healthy lifestyle and weight. However, our food comes in many forms, such as ready meals, rip and go packets etc., and it has at times travelled many miles or been intensively farmed, so the nutritional value can be reduced. Research has claimed that some of the food in our shops has nutritional deterioration or reduction by as much as 50% in some cases.
We are very exposed too marketing, research and fads, which can lead to people buying supplements in the hope that they will help to alleviate a health problem, or maintain their existing health. We have much more access to information about our health, and supplements are readily available, so it goes without saying that supplements will be self-managed.
There are many brands to choose from should you decide to take a supplement, and many of the high street shops now sell them.
Supplements and what you pay for:
The cheaper brands won’t have the quality or strength of the higher end brands, and they also come with other differences:
- Extracting natural nutrients to use in supplements is an expensive process, so the cheaper supplements are chemical copy cats. This means they are not as easily absorbed by the body, so their health benefits are significantly less. Cheap B12 supplements is an example of this as the cheap form (cyanocobalamin) has only approx. 20% absorbancy. 80% is excreted.
- Cheaper brands are rarely in capsule form as this is again a more expensive process. Tablets are cheaper to make and can contain bulking agents which are difficult to digest, causing gut problems.
- Some brands do provide good quality tablets with no additives Lamberts Healthcare and Cytoplan are two such products.
- The Omega Oils, such a fish oils, Star Flower Oil are very sensitive too light and oxygen exposure so correct storage is essential. Cheaper brands tend to be in clear bottles and I have seen some shops even place their oils in the window and sunlight. This can mean that the oil in the capsules is rancid and rendered useless. Rancid oils can actually cause damage to the human body.
So how do I choose the right supplement?
- Choosing a capsule type supplement is a good place to start.
- If it is an oil make sure the container is not clear and the display shelf is not in sunlight.
- Improve your diet first, as nature really does provide balanced nutrients.
- Don’t get carried away. Add supplements one at a time. By doing this you will know if it is effective or not. Many people add supplements in multiples and cannot see what helps.
If you are unsure visit your local Nutritionist or Health Food Shop so you can ask questions before make a purchase.