We asked a pharmacist for the low-down.
Is it just us, or does it feel like *everyone* has been hit by a cold, cough or chest infection over the last few weeks?
The change in seasons means a drop in temperature, and if you’re not prepared for the colder months, your immune system can take quite a knock. One key way to give your body a fighting chance against winter bugs is to make sure it has all of the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs to function at its best, but popping a multivitamin might not be the best solution.
According to Laura Dowling of Lloyds Pharmacy, as long as your diet is relatively healthy and you’re eating enough fruit and veg, it’s likely you don’t need the massive top-up of the main vitamins and minerals present in a multivitamin.
“We live in Ireland, we have good food, and if you’re eating regular meals in a healthy balanced way and you’re getting plenty of fruit and veg, you don’t necessarily need all of the the vitamins and minerals that are in a multivitamin,” she tells Stellar.ie.
You may think you’re doing your body a favour by pumping it full of Vitamin C and Vitamin B-complex in supplement form, but Laura says it’s important to remember that both of those vitamins are water soluble. Your body simply flushes out any excess that it doesn’t need, meaning that if you take too much you will literally end up peeing it down the drain.
Rather than taking one basic multivitamin 365 days a year, Laura suggests tailoring your supplements to the seasons. As for price, she emphasises that there is a difference in quality depending on how much you spend.
“If you’re paying more you will get higher quality ingredients, it’s that simple,” she says. “Plus, a lot of the cheaper supplements don’t even come close to the RDA [recommended daily amount] that more expensive ones do.”
Her advice? Consider taking a pricier, but higher quality supplement for a few months of the year – for example, throughout the winter.
Not sure what you should be taking? Here are Laura’s picks…
This herbal remedy is a great cold and flu buster, but don’t wait until you feel sick to start taking it. “Taking that every day throughout winter,” advises Laura.”As long as your body is in good balance and not under stress already, it’ll really help to prevent colds.”
A. Vogel Echinaforce 42 Tablets, €5.85
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that is naturally produced in the body, but that we are commonly deficient in, as our bodies produce less as we get older. “You’ll see difference in your energy levels in a few days once you start taking a CoQ10 supplement,” says Laura. “They are are more expensive than some other products on the market, but the results are worth it.”
Revive Active 7 Day Unit, €17.50
“I’m big on omega 3s for boosting brain function and giving skin, hair and nails a helping hand,” says Laura. “Try a Krill Oil supplement like Cleanmarine, or vegetarians can try Udos Oil.”
Cleanmarine Krill Oil, €20
If you commonly feel run down and stressed come winter time, try the herbal supplement Valerian to help relax your body and improve sleeping patterns. “It balances the system out,” explains Laura.
A.Vogel Dormeasan Sleep Valerian Oral Drops, €14.19
If you’re vegetarian, vegan or following a super-strict clean diet, you may be deficient in iron, which can lead to falling energy levels. “Talk to your pharmacist to discuss if an iron supplement might be right for you,” says Laura.
Floradix Liquid Iron Formula, €19.95
Laura also shares her wisdom via her Facebook page, Fabulous Pharmacist and her Twitter account @laurapharmacist.
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