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Top supplements you can rely on throughout the year

Mar 11, 2019 | 9 min read
Top supplements to rely on throughout the year

Multivitamin

While we all have the best of intentions to eat a varied diet packed with plenty of fruit and veg, it doesn't always turn out that way. Vitamins often get a bad rep in the media, and there is no disputing that the idea that you can get everything you need by eating a balanced diet is great but naively ignores the fact that most of us don't therefore a good multivitamin is useful to bridge the nutritional gaps. Please don't take this as license to eat rubbish guilt free! It's important that you don't use a multivitamin in place of a good diet, an unhealthy diet is an unhealthy diet and a multivitamin won't magically reverse it's effects.

Krill Oil

Both krill oil and fish oil are sources of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), they are types of omega-3 fats found only in marine sources. They fight inflammation and are linked to a variety of health benefits relating to the heart, brain and skin.  

Krill oil is a supplement that is rapidly gaining popularity as an alternative to fish oil. Krill oil may be more effective at fighting inflammation than other marine omega-3 sources because it appears to be easier for the body to use. It also contains astaxanthin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects

Taking a krill oil supplement is a simple way to increase your EPA and DHA intake. The capsules are typically smaller than those of fish oil supplements, and may be less likely to cause belching or a fishy aftertaste. As as added bonus krill oil is also typically considered to be a more sustainable choice than fish oil, because krill are so abundant and reproduce quickly.

Turmeric

Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, the active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin, which is a potent anti-inflammatory that helps maintain healthy inflammation responses. It has been linked to a multitude of health benefits:

  • As the curcumin in turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, it can benefit the joints and help keep them from getting inflamed and swollen.
  • It has been linked to the promotion of heart health - this is because of its anti-inflammatory properties and because it can improve the lining of blood vessels (known as the endothelium).
  • It encourages healthy cholesterol levels by reducing inflammation - high cholesterol is known to be caused by oxidative stress.
  • As an adaptogen (the ability to modulate the release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands) it helps counteract the adverse effects of everyday stress on the body.
  • It can positively influence weight management in overweight people by balancing stress hormones such as cortisol that in turn increases fat storage in the body.
  • It supports healthy metabolism by helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
  • It helps to maintain healthy cognitive function and working memory through its amazing ability to boost a protein in the brain called BDNF, which is responsible for helping the brain grow. It helps neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine travel to where they needs to go more easily which is why high BDNF levels are linked to better memory and mood.
  • Turmeric is an anti-aging powerhouse and in fighting oxidative damage it helps your body produce more radiant and healthy-looking skin.

Just Vitamins' turmeric tablet uses a high-potency organic curcumin extract, which is standardised to provide a high level of curcumin (at 95%) and is formulated with Bioperine® (black pepper extract). This increases the bioavailability of the Turmeric supplement, thereby enhancing its potency and effectiveness.

Magnesium 

Magnesium is a mineral associated with many chemical reactions in the body and is required to carry out hundreds of vital processes. It’s involved in everything from energy production to muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, calcium absorption and more.

According to studies, most people have low levels of magnesium, in fact is estimated that over half the UK population do not consume enough magnesium in their diet. Depleted levels of magnesium in the body can lead to a host of health concerns, many of which are easily mistaken for something else - such as anxiety, poor stress-coping, fatigue, IBS, insomnia, headaches and mood issues. 

A magnesium supplement provides a convenient and effect way of replenishing your body’s stores of this vital mineral and could help you to have more energy, sleep better, reduce stress, support healthy bones and heart function, and promote your overall wellness. 

Collagen

Collagen has received a fair amount of hype of late and it's not unwarranted - as the most abundant protein in the body it can be found in muscles, skin, blood, bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments and helps keep skin, hair and nails in good condition, it also helps joints, repairs connective tissue and regulates metabolism.

Collagen may also be a good tool for weight loss - while there isn't huge amounts of research on collagen and exercise, a study in 2015 looked at collagen supplements in 53 older males with sarcopenia, a condition where you lose muscle mass due to aging. After 12 weeks, those who took supplements along with resistance training saw an increase in fat loss and muscle strength more than the placebo group.

The good news is the body produces collagen on a regular bases however it does slow down as we age (hence development of wrinkles and saggy skin) and can also be inhibited massively by unfavourable lifestyle habits such smoking, poor diet and too much sun exposure.

Collagen peptides are an easy option to get your fix of this important form of protein. You will see that most brands sell hydrolyzed collagen peptides, which means that the amino acids in collagen have been broken down so that they’re more easily digested and absorbed.

CoQ10 / Ubiquinol

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like antioxidant that our cells need for converting food to energy. It is the “spark” that fuels energy production inside every single cell, including your heart, which is the biggest energy user in your body. Your body makes some of it naturally, but CoQ10 levels decline with age. As well as its role in cellular energy production and in the promotion of cardiovascular health, it is also taken to help minimize muscle-related side effects related to taking statins.

CoQ10 is a molecule that can readily switch between its oxidized (Ubiquinone) and reduced (Ubiquinol) form. The difference is in the presence or absence of two electrons. Ubiquinol’s two additional electrons make it one of the strongest fat-soluble antioxidants. The terms “ubiquinone” and “CoQ10” are sometimes used interchangeably, but ubiquinol is generally considered to be the “active” form. 

Your body converts ubiquinone into ubiquinol but the ability to do so effectively declines as we age which means younger people may get more benefits from CoQ10 supplements, and older people may benefit more from ubiquinol supplements.

It is possible to get some CoQ10 from your diet, but even the best food sources of CoQ10 have fairly small amounts of this nutrient, making supplements the most likely way to meet your daily needs. 

Added tip for you - supplementing with smaller, more frequent doses tends to improve bioavailability. In other words 100 mg twice daily will yield higher results than 200 mg daily.

Probiotics

The human gastrointestinal system contains about 39 trillion bacteria, according to the latest estimate, most of which reside in the large intestine. In the past 15 years researchers have established that many of these microbes are essential for health. Collectively, they crowd out harmful microbial invaders, break down fibrous foods into more digestible components and produce vitamins such as K and B12.

Most nutritionists are taught that 'everything starts with the gut' and the latest research is showing that the health of the gut really is the bedrock to good health. It makes sense if you think about is as this is where food and nutrients are assimilated and waste is removed and gut bacteria are key to this. The latest thinking is that investigators could design probiotics supplements to treat specific individuals - many researchers think personalised probiotics are the most promising path forward for patients with compromised gut microbiomes. 

Research as shown that probiotics seem to improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, a chronic disease characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and frequent diarrhea or constipation.

Several combined analyses of dozens of studies have concluded that probiotics may help prevent some common side effects of treatment with antibiotics. The problem with a treatment of antibiotics is that it stands a good chance of destroying entire communities of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, along with whatever problem-causing microbes they are trying to dispel. Normally the body just needs to grab a few bacteria from the environment to re-establish a healthy microbiome but sometimes they get filled up with harmful bacteria that secrete toxins, causing inflammation in the intestine and triggering diarrhea.

Interestingly there is a strong link between a healthy gut and hormone health, as hormone receptors in the gut help with the function of the bowel. Women going through the menopause or perimenopause may get bowel symptoms such as bloating which are due to hormone imbalances affecting the balance of gut bacteria. Probiotic supplements correct this imbalance and are also linked to levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which can improve mood. This is important during the menopause.

Probiotics needs prebiotics in order to function best, prebiotics are undigestable plant fibers that feed the good bacteria probiotics, the more the probiotics have to eat, the more efficiently these live bacteria work and the healthier your gut will be. Just Vitamins' Acidophilus Plus+ (5 billion) capsules conveniently provides 5 billion probiotic bacteria comprising six carefully selected strains for maximum probiotic effectiveness alongside a supporting prebiotic base. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin since our bodies make some vitamin D after exposure to the sun. Most of us don’t get enough vitamin D because it's nearly impossible to get enough through food sources alone and we either aren’t outside enough every day, or when we are in the sun we wear sun block. We're particularly at risk of becoming deficient during the winter months because the sun is not strong enough to provide enough vitamin D, combined with the fact that we wrap ourselves up even on sunny days and spend most of our time indoors. Further to this, as we age, our skin can’t synthesize vitamin D as efficiently as it did when we are younger.

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium and phosphate absorption, which is needed to maintain bone health - in fact without vitamin D calcium can’t do its job to help keep our bones healthy and strong! Vitamin D also plays a role in immune function and neuromuscular health.

As well as being essential for bone function it is also important for our immune function and plays a vital role in cholesterol management and helping to lower blood pressure. It has also been seen to help with mental health problems, multiple sclerosis and even cancer. It has been shown to increase movement in joints and decrease pain, especially in those suffering from arthritis.

If you're going to supplement with anything, vitamin D should be top of the list.

B vitamins

There are eight B vitamins, and they all play unique biological roles. Each vitamin provides specific benefits for the body. But they also work together to complete some of the most vital functions, including cell metabolism. B-complex vitamins are essential for converting food into fuel that your body can use, making B vitamins popular as energy boosters. B vitamins promote both mental and physical health, and as a bonus for the busiest among us, research shows that B vitamins may help reduce stress too so you may get more done, and be less stressed while you do it!

Some Vitamin B facts:

  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) functions to keep your skin, the lining of your gut, and your blood cells healthy. Getting enough riboflavin may be preventive for migraine headaches and cataracts, according to the National Institutes of Health. Riboflavin may also increase energy levels, boost the immune system, and treat acne, muscle cramps, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Vitamin B5  (pantothenic acid) is necessary for our bodies to produce hormones, and it's also needed for growth.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is vital for normal brain development and for keeping the immune system and nervous system working properly.
  • Folate (vitamin B9) is in the forefront of mood management. Findings show that many people with depression have lower levels of folate in the blood.
  • Vitamin B12 is essential for building blood cells and maintaining healthy nerve cells in the body. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include weakness, fatigue, constipation, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Deficiency is also damaging to the nervous system and can cause depression, confusion, and dementia.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning it can’t be produced by the body. It is a strong antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses and protect cells from harmful molecules called free radicals. In fact consuming more vitamin C can increase your blood antioxidant levels by up to 30%. It also helps with collagen production in the body so is fantastic for good skin health.

Vitamin C is probably most well known for boosting the immune system but supplementation has also been linked to many impressive health benefits such as helping battle high blood pressure, lowering heart disease risk, helping prevent iron deficiencies by aiding iron absorption, protecting against gout attacks, and reducing dementia risk.

And finally...

Remember that supplements are not a wonder cure, replacement or quick fix solution to an unhealthy diet and that their effectiveness is even greater when you confront wider lifestyle issues around your health such as smoking, exercise, sleep and mental health.

This post is meant as a helpful guide but there is no one size fits all approach with supplementation - always tailor your supplements depending on why you need them and what you are already getting from your diet. 

2 Comments

Mar 11, 2019
It is interesting that you note the importance of supplementing vitamin D. The majority of countries in the northern latitudes only receive adequate levels of sunshine between May and September. Research shows that supplementing vitamin D can reduce the effects of mood disorders, such as SAD. Thanks for the article!
May 8, 2019
It is appreciable that you have mentioned the importance of vitamins and supplements. I think finding supplements that work is also important.
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