It’s easy to be sceptical of supplements, there’s so many out there on the market and it’s clear that some people are just looking to make money, without a worry of other’s well-being.
There’s also the argument that a lot of people reason with, that if they follow a healthy, balanced diet that supplements are not necessary. The truth is that our food just isn’t as nutritious as it used to be, from growing methods, to processing methods to make our food last longer, taste better and be safe to eat and our dietary patterns have also changed, resulting in a growing requirement of dietary supplementation.1
How Has Our Food Changed?
If you look at the nutrient analysis of vegetables from 50 years ago to today, the vitamin and mineral content has diminished, our soils aren’t as nutrient rich and as a result, neither are the crops produced.2 Foods are also available all year round, despite apples for example still being grown in the same seasons as before, so surely this must affect the nutritional content?3
Food that’s pasteurised to make it safe, will also have a diminished nutrient content, where heat treatment kills enzymes, vitamins and minerals, that are all beneficial to our health. As a result some foods are ‘fortified’, where these nutrients lost in the processing are re-added, but this isn’t the case with all foods.1
How Has Our Diet Changed?
Our dietary patterns have also changed, with a high volume of foods low in nutritional value consumed everyday and whilst these foods have their own negative components, they also act as ‘replacement’ foods to those we may have eaten if we didn’t have the processed food item. For example, if we eat a piece of cake, yes, we know it is high in fat, energy and sugar, but it also fills us up and potentially replaces a nutrient rich piece of fruit or other food.4 The foods we eat together also affect our absorption of nutrients, for example calcium can make iron less bioavailable to our bodies.5
Whilst supplements are supposed to be complimentary to a healthy, balanced diet and in no way a replacement, the requirement for them is undoubtedly growing and there is definitely an argument for the use of them in daily life.6
So What Supplements Should I Be Taking?
There is no ‘one size fits all’ for supplements, depending on your age, sex, health status and dietary type, the supplements you require will vary. But there are a few nutrients that as a nation we are chronically under-consuming and therefore some supplements that would be worth considering taking.6
As a nation consumption of oily fish is well below the recommendation of one portion a week, this means that we may be missing out on the all important essential fatty acids - omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are important for our heart health, but their importance stretches from cell composition to brain health.7
It is recommended that adults, regardless of age consume 10mcg vitamin D each day; currently 1/5 of adults have a low vitamin D status. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, as well as being important to our brain chemistry. From April-Late September we can synthesise vitamin D from sunlight, however our bodies can’t produce vitamin D from October-March, so with limited dietary sources available, a supplement is required.8
Many individuals in the UK aren’t getting enough iron, iron is needed to produce red blood cells which carry oxygen around our bodies, without enough iron our bodies struggle to get enough oxygen to our cells which can lead us to feel fatigued and lethargic.9
Pregnant women are advised to take a folic acid supplement, whilst many people know the link between folic acid and pregnancy, many don’t realise that for maximum benefits in preventing neural tube defects, it is recommended from pre-conception to the end of the first trimester.10
Whilst typically rare, if you follow a plant based diet, void of animal products, B12 deficiencies can occur and you may need to consume a vitamin B12 supplement, essential for your nervous system. A common symptom of B12 deficiency is tingly hands and limbs, but there are many others too! Vegans will also need to consume sufficient Omega 3’s and vitamin D and whilst many sources aren’t suitable, there are supplements out there and vegans definitely shouldn’t skip out on these all-important nutrients!11
So, whilst supplements aren’t meant to replace a nutritious, balanced diet, they are becoming increasingly important component alongside, to ensure we are nourishing our bodies and we can thrive. Supplements can also be therapeutic to a number of health conditions and to the symptoms they may present.6
Our supplements here at Oxford Vitality are made in-house by our production team and formulated by our own nutritionists, who only use the best suppliers and the highest quality ingredients for our supplements. We also hold an ISO 22,000 food safety certification, so you can be sure of the quality and high standard of our products and we are recognised as an ethical company. If you have any questions about the products you should be taking, a qualified nutritionist is here to assist you, in getting the best supplement for your requirements.
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