The supplement industry is huge and can seem like a minefield of information and marketing. Do you need them? Who should take them? Which ones are the best? Can they have adverse effects and are they safe?
Do you need them? Ideally, no. But things are not always ideal. Everyone should be able to get all the nutrients they need from a healthy balance diet and lifestyle. But in reality things can become out of balance in our bodies, we can become deficient, different medications can affect our levels of some of these vitamins and minerals and some we just produce less of as we age. So yes, there are times when we may benefit from taking them. But this should really only be a short-term thing until we correct the issue. Of course, there are the exceptions such as chronic disease, ageing, pregnancy and B12 for vegans/vegetarians are a few examples. We should all be supplementing Vitamin D in the UK at least through the winter months. But some will need it through the summer too.
Which ones are the best? You need to do your research. Look at the ingredients: preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colours, flavourings, non-organic ingredients are often found hidden. Do they have the Good Manufacturing Process approval?Most of these vitamins and minerals come in different forms and some are better absorbed by the body than others and are used for different purposes.
Can they have adverse effects and are they safe? Supplements are mostly safe. But if they are not taken for the right reason and in the correct way, they can absolutely have adverse effects. For instance, if you are taking a blood thinning medication then you must consult your doctor before taking an omega 3 supplement (this can cause excessive bleeding). Another example is taking very high doses of Vitamin C in one dose, which can cause nausea and diarrhoea.
You really need to think about your reason for taking the supplement. Research the best ones, note the dosage and timings of when to take them. Be mindful if you are on medications already. The best thing to do is seek advice from a nutritional therapist (like me 😉 ) or another health professional if in doubt.