Vitamin supplements - do we need them?
Pharmacies and supermarkets are stocked full of vitamin supplements nowadays. But if we already have a healthy, balanced diet, are they necessary? Wellness Practitioner Claire Snowdon-Darling gives us the lowdown
I spend a preposterous amount of my time around nutritional supplements. I'm surrounded by bottles and jars of different coloured and sized pills.
I haven't always been fascinated by them. Up until I was 30 the most I'd ever taken was one of those delicious fizzy orange things that are supposed to be good for a hangover, but now they are a big part of my life.
So the big question I get asked a lot is why do we need them? Well here's the thing, since we started intensively farming in the eighties many trace minerals have been depleted from the soil meaning that basically our food isn't as packed full of the good stuff anymore. This has created what we kinesiologists call 'nutritional gaps'.
So come on be honest, hands up who eats:
5 a day? 10 a day? Organic 10 a day?
If you are eating 10 organic veg a day, great. Keep going - you will probably have less health concerns than the rest of us. But if not then there are some pretty big nutritional gaps to fill. By filling these gaps we are giving our bodies the tools they need to heal themselves.
I literally see this day in, day out in my clinic. A variety of symptoms and imbalances like migraines, IBS, menstrual issues, stress, aches, pains, you name it, become minimised and even go completely once the body is given what it needs.
Does that sound too good to be true? Well there are some pitfalls. Firstly, the supplements you tend to buy on the high street (health food shops excluded) tend to be fairly useless. Even if you can buy two and get one free please don't get sucked in. They are packed full of fillers and are often created synthetically and can cause more problems than they are trying to resolve.
It's really important to use supplements that are organic and where possible 'food state' (made from food) and where appropriate made with the active part of the plant.
Daily essentials include a really good B complex, a Vitamin C (not ones that taste of orange, they are more likely to taste of cabbage), an acidophilus (no 'those' drinks don't count, they are full of sugar and never make it to your large intestine anyway) and a dairy-free protein drink. I've found some amazing products that really work (or you get your money back).
Of course, there is a downside. The supplement industry is big business and the drug companies aren't happy about being excluded.
That, combined with new EU legislation, will make it harder and harder to get good products. It does OK though. Find yourself a good nutritional practitioner and they will be able to help you out.
Supplements tend to cost money, real money. It's worth it, you are worth it, and your health is worth it. It's such a cliche but when it comes to your health, what you put in you really do get back.