Supplements. What should you be taking?

This week, I shall be primarily focusing on supplements. There is always SO much information on supplements, but realistically, do you need to be taking any? What one’s should you be taking? Are the supplements over the counter in Sainsbury’s the same as private companies? 


What I’ll discuss below will mainly be non-gender specific, so if you have a partner at home, who you think could also benefit, then by all means, this could be used for them also.


There is a constant increase in the amount of supplements on the market.


Supplements which are aimed at the general public which promise to improve health or energy or prevention of certain disease pathways, or supplements aimed at athletes which claim to make you stronger, help recovery or increase muscle size. New products promising fat loss arriving on the scene monthly with few actually delivering the desired results. 

Equally, I feel as though too many people may take a pill, for example, a multi vitamin, and feel as though they may have covered base, so they can live their lifestyle in any way they want too or eat whatever foods they want without it affecting their health. Whilst supplements have there place, they are a ‘supplement’ to a healthy and active lifestyle. They will never be able to override the excess calories you may consume on a weekend, or give you more energy if you’re severely lacking in sleep.


There are always huge debates with regards to whether or not supplements really do what they’re selling themselves to do, but there are some huge factors as to how effective they are for you.


– Sometimes ‘You pay for what you get’ really does mean just that. Unfortunately, some of the cheaper supplements that you can buy over the counter, have certain minerals in forms which are less active and have to go through more complex activation pathways to actually become ‘active’ in our systems. I’ve always been a big believer in investing in the supplements you’re taking.


Your nutrition. Unfortunately, like I have mentioned previously – supplements are a supplementation to your nutrition, they are not all of your nutrition. It is important to realise, that in fact, the nutrients from foods are absorbed much more effectively than from isolated supplements, so ensuring that you’re ‘eating the rainbow’ outside of taking your supplements to try and get a wide variety of nutrients into your system is important.


Lifestyle. There are certain lifestyle factors which can affect our nutrient absorption and also depletion levels. Overtraining, excess alcohol intake, lack of sleep and under eating can all affect the levels of nutrients we have.


As these newsletters are female health based, I want to stick to one specific supplement which may help you if you suffer with any sort of PMS coming up to the first day of your cycle on a monthly basis. 


Your PMS stage of your cycle, generally the week coming up to the first day of your cycle is called the Luteal Phase. This is generally when a large amount of a woman’s physiology changes, often for the worse with negative changes to mood and energy levels, along with increased hunger and food cravings generally occurring. For most women using hormonal birth control of some kind, you may not have the same issues, but if you do, then this might also be for you!


One of the main supplements which has a large amount of evidence behind it, which actually has many potential benefits for women during the luteal phase is called Agnus Castus, also known as Chasteberry. It has been used in traditional medicine for years and it’s primary role is to bind onto Dopamine receptors in the brain.


Dopamine is involved in our pleasure, hunger and craving response and generally the latter two are partially related to falling dopamine levels in the luteal phase of our cycle. Additionally, decreasing falling Dopamine levels causes a spike in the hormone prolactin, which is heavily involved in breast milk production and this has been shown to improve breast tenderness quite substantially.


Some of my favourite companies I use with clients for supplements are: Viridian (my personal favourite and I try to get most of my supplements from here); Nature’s Plus and Nutri Advanced.

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