When it comes to supplements, you only have to take one look at our health store shelves to notice that the market may be more than a little bit saturated. As a consumer, how do we best go about separating the fad from the fact? To provide a helping hand, we asked a trio of nutrition experts to see which nutrients and specifically, which products, they believe are truly worth investing in.
From the best protein powders to ‘Super Elixirs,’ whey to the probiotic that proved popular with two of our pros, these are the supplements that carry the experts’ seals of approval.
Zoe Stirling, Nutritional Therapist
Pick 1: Symprove Probiotic
from £79, Buy online
“Symprove is a non-dairy liquid probiotic that contains 4 live strains of active good bacteria that a healthy gut would normally contain. Since irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is such a common modern-day health issue, I’ve found that Symprove has worked very effectively as one part of the puzzle in restoring the natural balance of the digestive system and improving IBS symptoms. Symprove works effectively as it doesn’t stimulate digestion when it reaches the stomach and therefore stomach acid doesn’t kill off the bacteria. As a water-based supplement, it means the body can readily absorb the probiotic so the good bacteria reach the intestines quickly. Most importantly however, the bacteria reach the small intestines alive so they can get to work in restoring balance to gut flora. Just one 60ml capful taken on an empty stomach 10 minutes before breakfast is required daily and it’s best taken as a 12 week course.”
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Pick 2: BioCare Vitasorb B
£5.65, Buy online
“Vitasorb B is a highly bioavailable and easily absorbed form of B vitamin preparation containing B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folic Acid and B12. It’s ideal for people who cannot swallow capsules or tablets and for those who aren’t able to absorb nutrients easily due to digestive issues. B vitamins are needed for many functions in the body such as energy production to immune health to hormone health. BioCare Vitasorb B can be taken under the tongue or it can be added to water, juice or into smoothies.”
Pick 3: Tierra Liver Detox
£17.95, Buy online
“I love this supplement by Tierra as it’s a blend of medicinal mushrooms and herbs that work so well in synergy together. Some of my favourite herbs such as turmeric and milk thistle are incorporated into the blend, which act as an antioxidant/anti-inflammatory and toxin eliminator respectively, while chlorella and spirulina bind to heavy metals for elimination from the digestive tract. It’s therefore an all-round detoxifier, enhancing detox pathways and toxin removal from the body. This supplement is best taken alongside a detox programme that is formulated under the guidance of a Nutritional Therapist.”
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Pick 4: WelleCo The Super Elixir
£62.50, Buy online
“I’ve really struggled in the past consuming alkalising green blends - and that’s coming from someone who would consider themselves to have a pretty understanding palette should the nutritional benefit be worth it. Fortunately, I was then introduced to The Super Elixir, not only does it taste good but it works too. Made up from a blend of greens, herbs, probiotics and enzymes, this is a great all-round booster to support the digestive system, hormonal balance and the circulatory system - to name a few. It’s made from wholefoods with the idea that food found in its more natural form contains nutrients and co-factors that our bodies can more easily understand in order to absorb and utilise the nutrients. The Super Elixir is also totally gluten, dairy and preservative free and is best taken earlier in the day as it can be stimulating for energy levels.”
Eve Kalinik, Nutritional Therapist
“Firstly before anyone starts spending money on expensive supplements (you do literally get what you pay for), it’s always my suggestion to seek the professional opinion of a nutritional therapist or dietitian who can advise you on the ones that you really need - mindless pill popping can either do nothing or in fact, make symptoms worse. Everyone is different, so this needs to be tailored to the individual. You might spend more on a consultation initially but at least what you will be taking will be targeted, personalised and prescriptive.”
Pick 1: Symprove Probiotic
from £79, Buy online
“This has got to be up there as my favourite probiotic on the market at the moment. I believe that it’s essential that we all take a daily probiotic to help maintain a good balance of gut microflora. This doesn’t just have an impact on the obvious digestive processes, but since 80% of our immune system is located in the gut and it’s where most of our serotonin (dubbed the “Happy hormone”) is created, you can see why it’s so important that we keep the gut nicely ticking along for immunity and positive mood too. I particularly like Symprove as it’s well absorbed and delivers the beneficial microorganisms intact to the gut which isn’t always the case with all probiotics. Plus, the team there really knows their stuff and it has the scientific backing to prove it.”
Pick 2: Wild Nutrition Food-Grown Magnesium
£16.50, Buy online
“I’m a big fan of all of the Wild Nutrition supplements since they are food state based [i.e. Food-Grown™ - presented to the body in a live, raw 'food' form] which generally means better absorption. Since a lot of us are depleted in magnesium, this is one that I tend to use quite frequently in my practise. If you are stressed, low in energy, experience muscle cramps/twitches and having trouble sleeping, these are just some signs of low magnesium. If any of these are more persistent though, then you should seek advice from your GP.”
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Pick 3: Nutri Advanced Adreset
£32.24, Buy online
“I love the blend of adaptogenic herbs in this complex that helps to moderate cortisol (the stress hormone) responses in the body and support the adrenal glands. Essentially, it means helping the body to deal with stress on a physical level. And this one works just like that!”
Pick 4: Bare Biology Lion Heart Omega 3 Fish Oil
£47.50, Buy online
“This has a great ratio of DHA to EPA - the main therapeutic fatty acid components of fish oil. Since we generally don’t get enough omega 3s in our diets, this can be a good way to top up. I particularly like the Bare Biology one since they use smaller fish to extract which means less environmental toxins and as such, is one of the purest on the market. They even have a 5 star rating by the International Fish Oil Standards.”
Pick 5: Pukka Herbs Wholistic Turmeric
£15.95, Buy online
“Turmeric is brilliant on so many levels and this Pukka supplement is my number one go-to as it contains the entire bioactive compounds needed to give a more potent and bioavailable formula. It’s also organic, sustainable and fair trade.”
MORE GLOSS: The lowdown on turmeric
Pick 6: Lumity
£79, Buy online
“A new complex on the market but it contains a clever blend of nutrients that can help to support the anti-ageing process both internally and externally.”
Martin Macdonald, Clinical Performance Nutritionist
Pick 1: MyProtein Vitamin D3 2500IU
£6.99, Buy online
“Vitamin D is one supplement that we use almost always in the Mac-Nutrition clinic. Research has shown that a large percentage of the population are deficient in Vitamin D. In part, this is because you can’t get a great deal from your food and even fortified foods have very little in them. We are supposed to make our own Vitamin D from the sun but with indoor jobs and the widespread use of suncream, we simply aren’t getting enough sun. There are literally no other vitamins I recommend regularly to people, but Vitamin D supplementation is a must for many individuals to optimise their energy levels, bone health, muscle function and even fat loss efforts! The best bet is to go and get your blood levels tested and then you can supplement accordingly.”
Pick 2: Optimum Nutrition Enteric-coated Fish Oil Softgels
£24.99, Buy online
“This is another supplement I have recommended to a large number of clients over the years. You can do without this supplement if you eat oily fish four times weekly but in my experience, most people don’t do this. Specifically omega 3s derived from fish specifically, not plants, have been linked to a large number of health benefits and reductions in disease risk. This is one of those supplements that you may never actually ‘feel’ the benefits of, but the research is just too strong to ignore.”
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Pick 3: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey
£39.99, Buy online
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that whey is important, but what I would say though is that it is just so useful! It’s convenient and the benefits range from it being a low calorie tasty treat to the fact that it will help you build and repair muscle, keep you feeling fuller for longer than the equivalent calories from carbohydrate or fat sources and it will also slightly speed up your metabolism. The benefits of increased protein diets are well established now and for its convenience, taste and cost, whey is a great addition to a balanced diet.
Martin Macdonald, founder of the UK’s first evidence-based 12-month online nutrition course, www.Mac-NutritionUni.com .
Disclaimer: Certain supplements are used for different reasons and a one-size-fits-all approach should never be adopted. In addition, pregnant women and anyone on medication should always consult a doctor before embarking on a supplements programme.
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