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Should you be taking supplements?


The word supplement is defined in the dictionary as ‘a thing added to something else in order to complete or enhance it.’ A vague definition at best and arguably not helpful when faced with the huge variety of bottles and tubs that the billion-dollar industry are constantly spitting out. Ideally, we would get all our daily needed nutrients through the meals we consume, but that just isn’t happening for most of us. Good skin, health, happiness and even energy starts from within, but do you need supplements to support your best self?

Vitamin D is understandably one of the highest deficiencies in the UK. Our bodies make vitamin D as a reaction to the sun, so if you spend most of your time indoors or the sun simply isn’t powerful enough, there are high chances that you may be deficient. Our mood, hormones and ability to absorb other chemicals are just some of what can be affected if our levels our low. Coming into autumn is a great time to start adding vitamin D into your routine as sun exposure is most likely to lessen. Ideally take this supplement in the morning with food, if your breakfast contains fat, your body will find it easier to absorb.

With many switching to dairy free alternatives, the number of those lacking in calcium is likely to increase. However, the reality is that dark leafy greens are a better source of calcium than cow’s milk. In fact, populations which consume high amounts of dairy have been found to have equally high rates of osteoporosis. To get your optimal calcium levels, you would need to be eating either 12 cups of broccoli a day or 5 cups of kale - unrealistic to most of us. If you’re looking to take a supplement bear in mind that it is most easily absorbed in smaller amounts, it can interfere with some prescriptive medication and it won’t be as effective when taken alongside iron, zinc or magnesium.

There are so many benefits to taking the recommended dose of omega 3, it promotes bone and joint health, keeps your heart healthy, reduces cholesterol, keeps your skin glowing and improves your quality of sleep. But it’s easier than you think to hit your recommended level by being conscious of what your putting on your plate. You can’t control the amount of mercury in a supplement but consuming 3-4 portions of oily fish weekly will do the job; think sardines, mackerel or wild salmon. Don’t eat meat? Try adding flaxseed to your diet.

Filtering through the variety of supplements out there may be overwhelming but it’s important to remember that diet and lifestyle vary from person to person. Ask your doctor to check your blood levels if you think you might be lacking in a vitamin or mineral. It’s not about taking more than anyone else, as in fact, your body can’t absorb high quantities of supplements thrown at it and they’ll simple pass straight through your body. Hold off on curating a well-stocked supplement cabinet and instead try to build a strong healthy foundation by considering what you put on your plate first. Then compliment that with any additional supplements you may need. By keeping things simple, you’re more likely to be consistent, which is key to seeing any health benefits that supplements have to offer.

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