To Supplement or not to Supplement

Vitamin pills and dietary supplement are big business, with Australians spending an estimated $1.5 billion on them every year. 73% of the population are taking 1 or more supplements but are they just a waste of money or do they add some real value to our health?

First things first – get your diet right. Creating good habits with food and eating a nutritious, well balanced diet should provide you with the nourishment you need to function and feel well. A handful of supplements every day cannot replace the value of eating well in the first place.

Secondly – many supplements may be poor quality. For a vitamin or mineral supplement to work, it has to be in a form that is bioavailable to the body. Quality nutraceuticals (yes that’s a thing) are expensive because they are thoroughly tested with evidence based research behind them.

Thirdly – sometimes due to illness, gut issues, stress, high exercise volume or a genetic predisposition to conditions like auto immune disease, high blood pressure or cholesterol a good quality supplement can help to support our body systems and get us back on track. Unfortunately, our soils are depleted in vital minerals and often modern food processing methods mean that the food we buy is low in nutrients we need. In these instances supplements are extremely helpful to keeping us on track. Here are a few of the most effective:-

Probiotics – for gut health. Links between gut health and emotional, physical and emotional resilience are well documented. Particularly after anti biotics, it is important to reestablish the balance of bacteria in the gut.

EPA/DHA: Fish oil: Omega 3 – vital for cognition, brain function, cell integrity, controlling inflammation. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid meaning it is essential for our body to function and can only be obtained through dietary sources. Dietary sources are limited particularly as all our salmon is farmed in Australia and had much lower quantities of omega – 3 than wild caught salmon

Zinc and Vitamin C: Proven to reduce the occurrence and severity of colds and flu. Taken at times of stress, it is invaluable in supporting our immune system and keeping us on our feet.

B Vitamins: A vital part of our energy cycle, B Vitamins are easily destroyed with modern farming and processing. Great for a boost in energy, taken with magnesium it can help alleviate anxiety and reduce the impact of stress. Play a role in supporting mental resilience.

Magnesium: A natural muscle relaxant, magnesium is effective in treating headaches and providing a good night’s sleep. Many of us are magnesium deficient, it is important to replace magnesium after high intensity exercise. A bath with magnesium (Epsom salts) can effectively reduce muscle soreness.

Vitamin D: 1 in 4 adults are Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D plays a vital role in our immunity, energy and mental and physical health. Deficiency in Vitamin D needs to be addressed and supplementation is a sure fire way to get our levels back up. Ideal range for medical profession is 50-250. That’s a big range. I would recommend a Vitamin D Supplement for anyone who scores under 70. Ideally it should be over 100.

Iron – Low iron levels can lead to fatigue, poor immunity, headaches and dizziness. An iron supplement can be effective until dietary requirements are sorted out.

When buying supplements, always go to a reputable health food shop and speak to the naturopath or nutritionist on call for the best advice and product recommendations. This is a guide only, so please let me know if you have any specific questions:

Written by Nutritional practitioner Alison Wright – available for consults at Balance Osteopathy.

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