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Health and happiness / February 12, 2016

Do I Need To Take Health Supplements?

Woman eating nutritional supplement - symbolized by a pill on a fork.jpg

Guest blog by Josh Bolding of Vivo Life

Shopping for health supplements can be a real minefield. With literally thousands of different products on the market each claiming to make you happier, healthier, fitter and smarter, how do you know where to start and who to trust?

 

I know exactly how confusing shopping for health supplements can be, because I’ve been there myself. And unfortunately, the vast majority of supplements on the market fail to live up to their promises. One of the main problems with health supplements is that people often look upon them as a replacement for a healthy diet. But if you think you can skip eating fresh fruits and vegetables just because you’re popping a daily multivitamin, you’ve been dealt some seriously bad advice.

Make no mistake about it: it is absolutely impossible to out-supplement a bad diet. Wholesome, nutrient dense food should always be your number one priority. Supplements, if you take them, should be used to fill in the small gaps that your diet cannot.

So, which supplements are right for you? Well, that depends…

To help you decide, here is a short list of popular supplements, along with a guide on whether or not you should be taking them!

Probiotics

Of the thousands of Vivo customers and private clients I’ve given supplement advice to, a high quality probiotic is without question the one that I recommend the most. This is because almost everyone I speak to could benefit from more beneficial bacteria in their gut.

Not only will supplementing with probiotics help improve your digestion, it will also give your immune system a vital boost (70% of your immune system is in your gut!), and enhance the amount of nutrients you are able to absorb from your food. If your digestive system isn’t working to it’s full potential, our body can’t absorb all the goodness from the food we eat – so no matter how healthy your diet, you still might not be getting everything you need!

Probiotics can be found naturally in ‘live’ foods such as sauerkraut, unpasteurised yoghurt, kimchi and kombucha. If you’re not eating these foods regularly, and especially if you suffer from any kind of digestive discomfort, I would highly recommend a quality probiotic supplement.

Omega 3

Do you eat 4 – 5 servings of oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines every week? If not, you should definitely think about taking an omega 3 supplement.

Omega 3 is an ‘essential fatty acid’ meaning that it cannot be produced by the body and must therefore be consumed through our diet. It is essential for the health of our brain, joints, heart, skin and bones. It also plays a vital role in a healthy metabolism, exercise recovery and immune response.

What makes omega 3 even more essential are the high levels of omega 6 in the modern day diet. Whereas omega 3 can only really be found in oily fish (or algae), omega 6 is much easier to source – found in nuts, seeds, meats, dairy, and also in dangerously high levels in some unhealthy cooking oils such as vegetable oil.

Too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3 causes chronic inflammation in the body.Experts suggest that we should consume roughly equal the amount of each of these fatty acids to maintain good health, but these days, many people consume over 50 times more omega 6 than omega 3!

To help bring things back into balance, take a high quality cold pressed fish oil supplement such as this one. If you’re vegan or don’t want to consume fish oil, try an omega 3 supplement derived from algae.

Magnesium

If you’re low on energy, are constantly stressed, can’t concentrate, get regular headaches or struggle to sleep through the night, it could well be down to a lack of magnesium.

Did you know that over 75% of adults in the UK are deficient in magnesium? This is because intensive farming methods have depleted our soils of this crucial mineral.

Which means, no matter how healthy your diet, that there is still a good chance you could be magnesium deficient. I know I was, which is why I saw such great results when I started to take a high quality magnesium supplement.

Vitamin D

Known as ‘the sunshine vitamin’, we synthesize vitamin D from sunlight exposure. Which, for obvious reasons, is much more difficult in the winter. Over 60% of people in the UK are deficient in vitamin D between the months of October and April; and it’s a number that continues to grow every year.

Our body needs vitamin D in order to maintain a healthy immune system, energy levels, skin, hair and nails. Unless you work outside for a living, I recommend taking a vitamin D supplement between October and April. You can stop taking it in the warmer months, as long as you spend a good 10 – 15 minutes outside every day!

Vitamin B12

The last supplement I wanted to throw into the mix is vitamin B12. If you eat meat, you don’t need to worry about this. But for vegans and vegetarians, taking a B12 supplement is highly advisable as vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animals.

Remember that not all health supplements are created equal! If you do choose to take supplements, prioritise the best quality that you can find. This isn’t necessarily the most expensive, but they should always be free of cheap bulking ingredients and synthetic, chemically derived nutrients.

If you’re still unsure about health supplements and don’t know where to start, drop an email to info@vivolife.co.uk with your questions. Either I, or a member of my team, will get back to you straight away!

Tags: Health and happiness

Josh Vivo Life

Written by Josh Vivo Life

A self confessed foodie, fitness fanatic and adrenaline junkie, Josh is the co-director of the online natural health and fitness retailer Vivo Life; the UK's trusted one stop health shop for people who really care about what goes in to their bodies. Josh is passionate about helping people of all shapes and sizes improve both their health and sporting performance.

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