What supplements should I be taking?

Ah, the golden question asked in consultations and on social media. With so many supplements on the market, and every man and their dog taking (or selling) a different supplement, it’s hard to know what you should be taking and when.

What are supplements?

Supplements, also known as nutraceuticals, are products that can be used as medicine. A nutraceutical or supplement may be defined as a substance with a physiological benefit or protection against chronic disease. This includes vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (such as antioxidants). Supplements come in many forms, including capsules and powders with different flavours. Compounds are also available to reduce the need to take multiple supplements.

When used correctly, supplements can have wonderful benefits such as reducing fatigue, improving concentration, reducing irritability, decreasing levels of period pain, clearing skin after experiencing acne or eczema, and reducing the frequency and intensity of flare-ups of autoimmune diseases and migraines, plus so much more. There is significant research into the effects of supplements on chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, endometriosis, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes to name a few.

So… what do I need?

You need to supplement the nutrients you cannot get enough of from your diet for whatever reason, where a deficiency has been identified or where there is an illness and nutritional therapy is being used to treat or manage this illness. Supplementation is highly individual as everybody’s body is different and has different needs. Therefore, what worked for one person, might not work for another. 

It is important to remember the body can only absorb so much, so if you’re already getting enough from your diet, you’re going to be wasting your money on supplements. 

Can I get my supplements from the supermarket?

You might be thinking, “the health aisle at the supermarket and the chemist is stocked full of supplements, so what’s the difference between them and the ones a practitioner can provide?”. 

The supplements you can buy off the shelf or over the counter have been designed to be safe. So safe that Joe down the road can go to five different supermarkets in a day to buy the same supplement and then take a heap of it when he gets home with minimal side effects. However, this also means they’re so safe they’re often ineffective because they’re in a dose much lower than what is needed to have an impact or in a form that the body can’t absorb. 

The supplements I am able to prescribe as a clinical nutritionist are practitioner-grade. They are only available with a prescription as they are in a higher dose and can have negative side effects if used incorrectly. Practitioner-grade supplements are also in a bioavailable form that the body can absorb or has cofactors in the formula to assist in the absorption. As a practitioner, I’m also able to advise on the correct therapeutic dosage for your health and the best timing to take your supplement for optimal absorption. This results in a significant improvement in your health. 

Practitioner-grade supplements generally work out to be cheaper than off-the-shelf supplements because they’re more concentrated, so less is required, and you get the correct dosage and form straight up rather than doing the guesswork. If you’re interested in taking supplements, please book an appointment to discuss your requirements.

Questions to ask yourself before taking a supplement

If you think you need some supplements, ask yourself these questions first:

  1. Do I need this supplement?
  2. Am I already getting enough of this from my diet?
  3. Have I discussed this with a healthcare practitioner?
  4. Does this supplement interact with any medications or other supplements I’m taking?
  5. Am I taking the therapeutic dose?
  6. Is this the most bioavailable form of this supplement?