Nutritional therapist Henrietta Norton clears the confusion for choosing the best supplements for you
When it comes to supplements, shopping can prove to be a pretty overwhelming experience. With an endless supply of must-have vitamins and minerals all promising a wealth of health benefits from increased energy levels to a better night’s sleep, how should we go about choosing the right one for our particular lifestyles?
We asked nutritional therapist and Get The Gloss Expert Henrietta Norton to shed some light on the often confusing topic. Henrietta is Head of Nutrition at Grace Belgravia and with her husband Charlie, they co-founded Wild Nutrition - a premium brand of food-state supplements available at Space NK . From how many we should be taking to what we should be looking for and why, we can’t think of a better person for helping us shop a lot more smartly when it comes to giving our diets a helping hand in the right direction.
GTG: How can supplements help boost our health? How should we go about picking the right one?
HN: Food comes first, always. Unfortunately, we no longer rely completely on food alone to provide us with the full nutrient levels we need. This is due to a combination of the way that food is produced (think intense farming techniques, lower nutrient levels in the soil) as well as exposure to stress, environmental pollutants and our increasing use of medication (the contraceptive pill and antibiotics for example).
When this shortfall occurs we can develop subtle nutrient imbalances that can affect our health such as skin problems, poor sleep and poor digestion for example. Supplements can help to bridge this increasing gap, even when eating a healthy diet.
However, there is a vast difference between nutrients found in food and the synthetic replicas used by the majority of supplement companies. Increasing research is showing us that high doses of these chemical nutrient forms may not be as beneficial to the body's natural healing abilities as we may have previously thought. For this reason, I only will only use supplements where the nutrients are provided in a 'Food-State’ form. As with food, the nutrients are combined with all the ‘team players’ (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids etc.) in a way our body is attuned to receiving them and have been shown to have a greater absorption, retention and metabolism.
This reduces the need for ‘mega doses’ and reduces the chemical by-products that the body has to clear from using ‘synthetic’ versions.
GTG: Is there a limit to the number you should take?
HN: I believe that the art of supplementation is simplicity and taking pots of different pills is often unnecessary. If you choose a supplement where the nutrients are readily used by the body you very often don't need these 'mega-doses' that many brands offer nor a cocktail of different nutrients. A nutritional therapist can work with you to make sure you are using the right supplements. A good supplement company may also offer in-house expertise, as we do at Wild Nutrition.
GTG: What would you recommend from the range if you're feeling run down?
HN: I find that a lot of my clients really benefit from taking a multi nutrient such as the Bespoke Man , £32 or Bespoke Woman Food-State Multi-nutrient , £30. These formulas provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to support the immune system but also have the additional ingredients such as ashwaganda to support the body's adaption to stress which many of us could benefit from!
GTG: What would you recommend from the range to take in the lead up to a festival and why?
HN: Festival indulgences such as alcohol and tobacco can increase oxidative damage and reduce the body's store of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C. The Antioxidant Boost , £30 is an excellent product for supporting your intake of these both pre and post festival. I also take magnesium before I go to bed for the few days before and after to help me get some much needed restorative sleep.
GTG: What would you recommend we take on holiday with us if we're hoping to pack light?
HN: If you are travelling long haul, the Wild Traveller , £28 can support your body's adjustment to different time zones and includes NADH, an ingredient used by NASA for jet-lag. I took this on a recent trip to LA so I can vouch for it personally and professionally!
A heady mix of holiday indulgences can disrupt the beneficial flora in the gut and bring on the 'bloat,' so the Multi-Strain Biotic , £35 is the ideal travelling companion. It has a unique mix of eight different strains to reflect the gut's natural environment (and doesn't contain FOS which can make you more bloated). It doesn’t need to be refrigerated which makes it very practical to travel with.
GTG: How should your summer supplement regime differ from your winter one?
HN: My clients would be able to tell you that I am a staunch believer in the need to eat with the seasons as our need for different nutrient groups can vary throughout the year. I recommend keeping the base of a good multi nutrient all year around but adding in vitamin D if your levels are low (this can be verified by a blood test) between September and April and taking an extra antioxidant supplement during the summer to support the skin's defences against sun exposure (hopefully!). Pycnogenol found in our Food-State Antioxidant Boost has been clinically shown to help protect skin against UV damage and it certainly promoted my tan last summer.