Supplements: Healthy Must-Haves or Pharmaceutical Greed?

In recent years, people have had an increased focus on health and fitness, wanting to do everything they can to look after their body. With so many people fearing that they are not fueling their body with everything it needs, supplements have become more popular than ever. It’s true that certain supplements can be very good for you and can benefit the body in a range of ways, but it can be hard to distinguish this from the ‘fad’ products that are simply trying to rip us off. So, below we will look at the do’s and don’ts in the supplement world and see what your body really needs and what can stay on the shelves of the shop.

Folic Acid – Must Have

Folic acid is known to be a saviour during pregnancy. Folic acid can be found in foods such as brown rice, brown bread and leafy greens. It is highly recommended that you take folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy as it can help to prevent any defects to your baby’s spinal cord and brain. Even if you eat plenty of foods containing folic acid, it is unlikely that you’ll get the amount you need through diet alone. That’s why the supplements are great because you know that you’ll be getting the right amount. For more information visit the NHS website.

Prevagen – Give It a Miss

There are so many products on the market that make extremely vague claims about the amazing things that their products do without much proof at all. For example, Prevagen, a product which contains an ingredient derived from jellyfish, is rather indistinct in its description of the benefits it has, including simply ‘supporting cognitive function’. In fact, there is no evidence of any well-designed studies using placebo’s to actually test the effectiveness, meaning it has been criticised heavily, with suggestions that the $165 million consumers have spent on it over the last 10 years has gotten them very little for their money. This seems to be an example of a product that is simply taking advantage of the consumer culture so focused on supplements at the minute! Perhaps give this one a miss.

Fish Oils – Must Have

Omega-3 Fatty Acids that are found in fish oils have been researched for years and years, and it is suggested that they can assist in the normal functioning of the brain, heart, vision, blood pressure and also the health of our skin. You can find Omega-3 in fatty, cold-water seafood such as salmon, tuna and mackerel. Even if you eat fish, taking high strength fish oil can be good for you. It is even more important to take supplements like EPA fish oil if you don’t eat much fish or none at all.

Avoid – Choline

Choline is sold as a supplement in many different forms, and is an essential nutrient that can be found in a range of meat and dairy products, yet when consumed in excess, it can be dangerous. It increases the likelihood of platelets joining and forming clots, which in turn can then result in blocking the blood flow. In the worst cases, this can lead to heart attacks and strokes. If you are eating meat and dairy then choline simply isn’t needed, however if you do follow a diet without these key items, such as vegan, perhaps contact your doctor to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients that you need.