Supplements

Is Supplementation Needed If You Are Eating Healthily?

SupplementsSo if you follow all my tips on eating healthily in my ‘Healthy Eating For Rubbish Cooks‘ Series, does that mean you don’t need to take supplements, minerals or vitamins?

The answer is: use your common sense (which isn’t the same as ignoring it or over-worrying about it).  You don’t need every supplement, and health food shops are full to the brim of ideas for you to spend your money on.

If you follow my tips on healthy eating, weight loss and exercise and you are feeling in tip top condition, then no, I doubt you need a supplement.

But if you are exhausted and have tried all my tips to get more energy, are sleep deprived and generally feel rubbish, then yes, maybe it would be a good plan.  The sorts of things that can be helped are PMT, joint pains, digestive issues, skin problems, depression, I even saw them help Alopecia on ‘The Food Hospital’ on Channel 4.

My top tip on supplementation is to ASK someone who knows more than you and knows more than the internet.  Sometimes the people who work in health food shops can be really helpful.  Sometimes you might actually want to talk to a nutritionist, homeopath or medical herbalist.  You might even have a great doctor who is willing to do a test for you to check how you are doing, as general exhaustion can also be a sign of deeper problems.  If they won’t do a check on your body’s nutrients, then you will find that there are private professionals who will; but make sure that you use someone with loads of experience who has come well recommended to you.

I think that the biggest question is whether to take a multi-vitamin or not.  Some people claim that you can get all the vitamins that you need from a healthy balanced diet.  Some claim that unless you eat totally organic, the quality of our vegetables and meat is not good enough any more and you will need vitamins.  My answer is; does your body feel healthy and vital?  If not, what’s wrong with it?  Maybe consider a supplement or vitamin.

I do use supplements, so I’m going to list what I use here or have used.  For all of them there is a really obvious reason, I’m not just supplementing for no reason.  Plus I have asked professionals about the combination of them.

Bear in mind that I haven’t slept through the night in 6 yrs, I have 2 young children (6yo and 2yo), I co-sleep and am an extended breast-feeder, as well as working from home when you look at my list!

1) Floradix: A liquid mineral and iron supplement: This is magic in a bottle for me when I’m breast feeding, and it doesn’t constipate you like iron can.  Without it I was getting HUGE bruises, but within a couple of weeks of going back on it I had tonnes more energy and the bruises were gone.

2) Vitamins: I take the ones for breast-feeding women as those little tikes do tend to suck all the good bits out of our bodies.

3) Omega 3, 6 and 9: My brain works better with these, REALLY noticeably!

4) Vitamin C: My body really likes me taking vitamin C, despite the fact that I pretty much always hit my 5 a day.  Maybe it’s habit, but I don’t feel as good starting the day without it.

5) Probiotic: A proper ‘pill’ one, rather than a yogurt with sugar.  Mine come from Optibac who kindly sent me a couple of packs to try for free.  I’d been having stomach cramps and this totally fixed it.  I’m going to write a proper post all about what probiotics are in the next couple of weeks for you.

I was talking to a friend today about the fact that she reckoned that supplements had helped her depression.  I know of loads of people who swear by whatever it is that they take.  There is a possibility that it is a case of the vitamins being a placebo.  But then there is research to show that even operations can be placebos because of the power of the mind.  I don’t really care, what is most important is that the proof is in the pudding.  There will be times in your life when you need a little extra help.  If the help is there and available, then I think it’s well worth it.

BUT, I’ll say again; it’s wise to get advise because herbs, vitamins, minerals and supplements are actually a lot more powerful than you might think.  You can take the wrong things that might make the symptoms worse or disagree with something else you are taking.

One final word: If you are pregnant, then it’s crucial that you take a multi-vitamin that is tailored for your needs and includes folic acid.  If you are pregnant with twins, get professional advice about whether you need more.

What are your favourite supplements?

Or do you think that it should be possible to survive without them?