Supplements: Are They *Really* All They’re Cracked Up To Be?

You're crazy about kale and you can't get enough of quinoa - so do you really need to start popping pills?

Tired, crap skin, weak nails, stringy hair? These days, you can just take a supplement for that, can’t you? Ideally we should be getting everything we need from a properly-balanced diet that contains optimum levels of fresh veggies, fruit, protein and healthy fats, but um, all those big nights out, spice bags and mega glasses of wine can put paid to that. Ruth Martin-Hetherington, who developed Miss Fit Skinny Tea and now the cheekily-named vitamin supplements, The D, says, “we all lead very active lifestyles and getting the right nutrients from food can be difficult. So for that reason it’s so important that women supplement to maintain optimum health levels.”

So what’s the most important one to take? Unsurprisingly, vitamin D is high on the list. “It’s one of the most underrated supplements that we need, especially in Ireland as we’re not exposed to enough sunshine, and sunshine is what makes Vitamin D in the body,” she explains. “A lot of us have accepted ‘not feeling the best’ as normal – we think being susceptible to colds and flus and feeling tired all the time is a normal part of our lives, but the truth is we’re more than likely lacking in vitamin D,” she says.

It’s not just about general health, though. “It also contributes to normal bone and teeth health and is vital for your mental health, especially during the winter months when we don’t see a lot of natural sunlight. A lot of women suffer with SADS during the winter months and vitamin D can relieve the symptoms associated with that as it helps boost serotonin levels. Supplementing with a good quality form of vitamin D can relieve symptoms of IBS, migraine and can help improve autoimmune disorders.”

That’s the next thing to crack: how do you know what’s a good source of the vitamin or mineral you want to take? “Some vitamin Ds are labelled as high doses, but if they’re powder-based the absorbency will be quite poor,” Ruth explains. This is because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, so you need to make sure that you’re including a good source of fat in your diet to ensure that you’re getting optimum absorption – an issue that can raise its head if you’re juicing, clean eating or following an elimination diet.

So, should you pop? Like lots of things, when it comes to supplements, it can better to be safe than sorry.

This article first appeared in STELLAR’s January/February issue. Our March issue is on shelves now! 

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