Is it possible that something as simple as taking a daily supplement can help lessen ailments? Eulogi Rheeder lifts the lid
Stress-fending, energy-boosting, weight-loss supporting, performance-enhancing, wrinkle-reducing… How many times have you found yourself in a pharmacy or health store in hope of finding at least one of these? We can’t deny that sometimes a little boost is necessary, but do we really need to take all these pills? The simple answer: probably not, but adding a multivitamin to your diet could benefit you more than you realise.
It’s not inside
According to Felicia Rubin, pharmacist and naturopath at the Wellness Warehouse, modern diets are to blame for some deficiencies in our bodies. ‘The (often processed, fast) food we eat nowadays doesn’t contain all the nutrition we require. And if we’re deficient in a vitamin or mineral, our bodies will be unwell. Depletions can lead to fatigue and illness, and can even make it more difficult to deal with stress.’
From A to zinc
To combat the lack of nourishment in our foods, Felicia recommends taking a basic daily supplement. There is, however, a big difference between a vitamin and a mineral; this should play an important part in finding the supplement for you.
‘Vitamins and minerals do very different things for the body – each have a different function, yet both are vital for optimal body function and work best if taken together. For example, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, so these should always be taken together,’ Felicia explains. Fortunately, most quality multivitamins contain both.
Pick your pill
So, where do you start? You could go into a pharmacy or health shop and peruse the vitamin aisle until you’ve picked one that looks like it could suit your requirements. But, as always, consult a healthcare practitioner who can help you to narrow it down to a more specific treatment. ‘Certain people have added requirements outside the scope of what is listed on vitamins and minerals,’ says Felicia. ‘If you’re feeling unwell, a blood test can determine what supplementation is necessary and your doctor can advise on the correct dosage if there are actual deficiencies.’
Once you’ve narrowed things down, Felicia says to buy premium brands, even if they are twice the price. ‘Better supplements contain stronger mixtures and more potent, higher quality ingredients. Often, the better brands also offer wider ranges and more options when it comes to ways to take vitamins – under the tongue or in liquid form, for example – as certain vitamins and minerals are absorbed better in different forms.’
Natural vs synthetic
Does it make a difference? According to Felicia, it does, because the natural forms of vitamins are much more easily absorbed by the body, so you reap the benefits much quicker. She adds that when it comes to natural supplements, organic formulations are believed to be more beneficial. ‘For example, food supplements like “green food” powders (powdered green ingredients such as vegetables, sea vegetables and sprouted grasses like wheat grass) are becoming more and more popular because they’re made from natural ingredients rather than synthesised ones. The long-term benefits and results far outweigh the chemical ones.’
Here are a few common deficiencies you can quickly spot
Iron Symptoms include fatigue, pale skin, dizziness and hair loss. Remedy with lots of red meat, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, and lentils.
Magnesium Symptoms include severe PMS, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia and muscle weakness. Remedy with avocados, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B complex (this includes vitamin B) Symptoms include anaemia, tiredness and memory problems. Remedy with red meat, eggs and fish.
Vitamin C Symptoms include recurring colds and flu, skin wounds that don’t seem to heal fast enough and fatigue. Remedy with berries, citrus fruit and plenty of vegetables, including broccoli and tomatoes.
Zinc Symptoms include acne, regular colds and flu, loss of smell or taste and white spots on nails. Remedy with pumpkin seeds, oysters and fish.