Why use supplements? We are told that we can get everything we need from a healthy balanced diet. So, does that mean for those of us who are following a healthy eating plan, and making all the right food choices, that food supplements are unnecessary? How do supplements add value to a healthy diet?
In this blog, we are going to look at the benefits of supplements, and which supplements are worth taking.
The Benefits of Supplements
In our blog on multivitamins we discussed research that showed that even the healthiest diets can sometimes fall short of certain nutrients. We also know that the British Diet and Nutrition Survey showed that many people in the UK are low in certain nutrients. Folic Acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin D levels were all noted to be low in a high proportion of the population.
In part, this is because it is difficult to eat a perfect diet all the time, to always make sure we are getting at least five fruits and vegetables a day, to make sure we always use fresh ingredients, and to cook from scratch as much as possible. Additionally, we know that cooking, storing, and processing foods will all impact the nutrient levels provided.
This is why supplements are important. They are not there to make up for having a bad diet; we should all be aiming to eat as healthily as possible. However, they do help to create a bridge between what we should eat, and what we actually do eat.
There are also times when life demands more from us than usual, and during these times supplements can offer a little extra support.
Which Supplements Are Worth Taking?
So, with all that said, which supplements would be best to take? The answer really depends on you! We are all individuals, our diets and lifestyles are different, and therefore the best supplement to take will be different for each of us! However, there are some supplements that are ideal in specific circumstances, so read on to see which are the best supplements and why.
Supplements for a busy, hectic lifestyle
If you are a busy parent trying to juggle home, family, and work, if you are a teenager worrying about the pressure of exams and school, if you have a stressful job, or just lots of extra pressure you are trying to deal with – in short, if you have a busy hectic lifestyle – then you should look at the B Vitamins!
The B Vitamin family work well together, so are often sold as a B Vitamin Complex. Between them, the B Vitamins support us in a lot of different ways:
- Vitamins B1, B2 and B12 all help to support the health of our nervous system – which will have a lot to deal with when we feel under pressure.
- Vitamins B5, B6 and B12 all help with healthy energy production.
- Vitamins B5, B6, B12 and Folic Acid all work to reduce tiredness and fatigue (always helpful in a busy life!)
- Niacin (B3), Folic Acid and Vitamin B6 all support healthy psychological function.
- Vitamin B5 helps to support healthy mental performance.
Supplements for extra immune support?
If you are just starting to venture out again after lockdown, especially if heading back into the office, you may be looking to give your immune system a little extra support. Last winter saw a significant reduction in colds and flu, thanks to social distancing and home working. If you want to give your immune system a little bit of extra nutrition, then the vitamins to think about are Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin D.
Most people who eat healthily, with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, will probably be getting enough Vitamin C. However, it is known that many in the UK are low in Vitamin A, and throughout this pandemic, there has been a huge focus on the potential benefits of taking Vitamin D. These three nutrients can often be found together in targeted Immune Support supplements.
Supplements for healthy hair, skin and nails
There are times when the health of our diet is reflected in the health of our hair, skin and nails. This is where dietary supplements can offer some benefits. The key nutrients to look out for include biotin and zinc.
- Biotin is often referred to as vitamin H, because of the role it plays in supporting healthy hair.
- Zinc supports hair, skin and nails. Many of us have low zinc levels, so could therefore benefit from a top-up.
Interestingly, Zinc plays a particularly important role in teenage health, because as well as supporting healthy skin, it also plays a role in supporting healthy cognitive function, healthy bones and a healthy reproductive system.
Want To Cover All Your Bases?
If you are simply wanting to make sure that all your nutritional bases are covered, then the best option is a good multivitamin supplement. For more information to help you choose which multivitamins would be best, check out our blog on multivitamins.
Still Not Sure Which Supplement Is Best?
If you want a little extra help and advice on which supplement is best for you, then you can always get in touch with our expert nutritionists.
Written by Jenny Logan DNMed. (Jenny is a Nutritional Therapist who has worked with clients in health foods stores and private clinics for over 20 years, and is Product Development & Training Manager for Natures Aid).