How to choose your supplements
What is your vitamin of choice? A multivitamin or separate hair, skin & nail vitamins?
Does your body respond better to whey protein or hemp? Or perhaps casein or pea?
Which collagen works for you? Bovine, marine or poultry?
Navigating the health market can be overwhelming and confusing. We are either so unsure that we take nothing, or we move from one product to the next in the hope we will discover the perfect one. We hope for bouncy hair, strong nails, dewy skin, limitless energy, or deep sleep. Surely there must be a pill or powder out there for these things.
Is that asking too much?
Probably yes, but that’s not to say certain products won’t help us on our way to great health. As always, before investing in supplements it is always important to consult with our doctor to be sure they complement us.
CONFUSED BY ALL THE SUPPLEMENTS?
Walking into a health store we face rows upon rows of supplements, be it as powders or pills, there are a lot of products promising a variety of benefits.
We are each unique with requirements that change as we go through our lives so it would be hard to give a breakdown of the 3 most beneficial supplements as these can change from one person to another.
However, we will navigate a few that stand out above the rest as they can be hugely beneficial for most people.
The best place to get our vitamins is from the food we eat. Our bodies absorb vitamins from food more readily than when taken in a tablet. Combined with fibre and water the vitamins are easily carried to different parts of our bodies.
But today our food is not always of the highest quality and some of us may struggle to get all the vitamins we need from our diet.
This is where a vitamin supplement comes in. Experts agree that a well-rounded multivitamin is sufficient for most people’s needs. If you have specific requirements, such as pregnancy or illness you may need to look for more targeted varieties but for everyday use a multivitamin is ideal.
What to look for:
When choosing a multivitamin you want to look at the Recommended Daily Value (RDV) listed next to each vitamin on the back of the bottle and find one that is almost 100% on most items. Then take it just before a meal as this will help our bodies absorb all the good stuff.
MAGNESIUM & CALCIUM
Magnesium and calcium are minerals often found in small amounts in a multivitamin but often need additional supplementing to reach sufficient levels.
As a result of stress, poor sleep and a low-quality diet our bodies may be low in magnesium. Taking a magnesium supplement can improve our energy levels and enhance the functioning of our muscles and nerves. Magnesium can help us get a better night's sleep and is hugely beneficial for our brain function.
When we think about calcium we automatically think about our bones. And it’s true, our bodies need calcium to stay strong and prevent osteoporosis as we age. There have also been studies showing that calcium, taken in combination with vitamin D can prevent certain cancers. So, adding this to our daily regime is an excellent idea.
What to look for:
As with vitamins, these minerals are absorbed best from food. If we consume dark leafy greens, avocadoes, bananas, nuts and seeds, whole grains, tofu, milk, yoghurt and even dark chocolate we will be providing our bodies with all the magnesium and calcium we need. If we feel our diet doesn’t cover all our needs then adding a high-quality supplement is ideal.
Magnesium supplements come in many different forms with magnesium glycinate and citrate generally being the most easily absorbed by our bodies. We need different dosages at different ages but try not to exceed 350mg a day.
When choosing calcium it is important to find the right dosage, look for 1,000mg a day if you are under 50 and 1,200mg over 50. There are different types of calcium but calcium carbonate tends to be the most easily absorbed.
PROTEIN & COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT
Protein powders are often associated with bulky weightlifters in the gym but in reality, most of us could do with adding more protein to our diets.
Protein is essential for muscle and tissue growth and the formation of enzymes and hormones. If we do weight training studies have shown that adding a protein powder can aid in the building and repairing of muscles.
As we age our bodies require more protein and a protein powder can help us achieve sufficient levels. However, if we eat a lot of meat, fish, poultry and dairy and don’t exercise too much our bodies probably won’t require the additional supplement.
What to look for:
There are many types of protein powders from different sources (meat or plants) to choose from but a protein supplement worth considering is collagen. Collagen is a pure protein with many additional benefits (always look for one with no additives or fillers).
Collagen powders are made from beef, poultry or fish. As with protein powders, collagen helps build muscle and additionally provides support to our skin helping new cells to grow and keeping the structure strong and elastic. We only use Bovine collagen because it is the closest form of collagen to that found in humans and it is bioavailable, meaning it’s easier for our bodies to absorb and use.
Internally, collagen provides a strong protective covering to our organs and keeps our joints and bones strong and our heart healthy.
LET’S KICKSTART LONGEVITY
Like most things in life, simplicity and consistency lead to great results. And it's no different when choosing supplements. Taking a few high-quality products each day is an investment in ourselves. When we eat a healthy, varied diet, drink good quality water, move our bodies and take a few specifically chosen supplements, we will reap the benefits of good health throughout our lives.
By Pippa Walker, freelance writer and researcher.