We are frequently told and encouraged to ensure we get the nutrients and vitamins we eat from the foods we eat, but with so many packaged and processed foods on the supermarket shelves, many of us rely on easy access meals and snacks to fit in with our busy lives and lack of time to prepare meals from scratch. 

The nutrients in these processed foods are often lacking or impossible for our bodies to breakdown and absorb.  In addition to this, our stressful and busy lives also deplete our bodies of vital nutrients.

So, with many of us reaching for supplements to help boost our vitamin and mineral intake, which are the main ones we need to ensure we are consuming daily?

Vitamin C

Immune Support and antioxidant

We all know vitamin C supports the immune system and many of us reach for a vitamin C supplement when we feel a cold coming on, but this vitamin is also an antioxidant, which means it hoovers up toxic chemicals in the body called free radicals.  Our bodies produce these toxins naturally, so we are always in need of vitamin C to support our cells.

Vitamin D

For bone and brain health

Here in not so sunny Britain, we struggle to absorb enough vitamin D from the sun, our main source of this vitamin, so it’s vital we look to ingest this vitamin in a supplement.  Our bodies need vitamin D to help fight bugs, strengthen bones and teeth and it’s also needed to help with healthy brain function.  Ideally, we need to take this vitamin in the evening, as if we take it in the morning, our bodies won’t look to produce it naturally from the sunshine.

Vitamin B Complex

For a whole host of things!

This group of vitamins work as a group to help energise, stabilise blood sugar levels, support metabolism and detoxify the body.  If you’re stressed and tired your body will be using these vitamins at quite a pace, so it’s important to keep levels high.  Vegans often lack B12, one of the six B vitamins, so it’s worth taking this complex if you don’t consume animal products.

Zinc

The great healer

As well as being a good antioxidant for the body, Zinc also helps white blood cells fight infection and heal the body when there are any cuts or bruises.  So, if you take a long time to heal, it may be worth upping your daily dose of Zinc.  Low levels of Zinc can also lead to poor blood sugar control.

Magnesium

Stress, stress and more stress

Magnesium is the main supplement to help us relax muscles, which results in our ability to relax our bodies and minds.  When we are stressed, our bodies lose more magnesium as it is excreted in our urine, causing a vicious cycle – our magnesium levels go down – we feel more stressed – we lose more magnesium in our urine. Bear in mind that the heart, blood vessels and organs such as the uterus are all muscles, so a lack of magnesium can lead to high blood pressure and painful periods if the blood vessels are unable to relax.  Magnesium can also improve sleep, so taking a supplement in the evening or having a magnesium salt bath will help aid sleep and improve the mineral levels.

Is it OK to just pick up a cheap supplement in the supermarket?

In a word, no! 

If you study the label of the cheaper supplements found in supermarkets and some high street stores, you will see that the amount of actual vitamin and mineral in the pills is minimal, most of the ingredients are fillers and chemicals.  I always suggest to people that they buy the best vitamin supplement they can afford, to ensure they are taking the recommended daily allowance for each vitamin, rather than just taking a tablet which is mainly chalk!  You won’t need to take the supplement, for ever, so it’s worth investing in your health now, rather than trying to treat a health issue later.

Sophie x