Boost your well-being with back-to-basics supplements, plus what you should think about taking if you’re a vegan…
With thousands of supplements elbowing for room on health store shelves, it’s easy to be guilt-tripped into taking handfuls every day. That’s fine if you have the cash and time for lengthy supplementing rituals, but we reckon a few well-chosen basics can keep us humming along healthily.
What we all need: 3 great basics o cover most of our well-being bases
1 A great multivitamin
If we do nothing else for our health, a daily multivitamin is a must to cover imperfect diets, stress and energy drainers.
Try: Foodstate Multivitamin + Mineral for Women, R279,95 for 60 tablets, Dis-Chem. For vegetarians, go for Viridian High Five Multivitamin & Mineral Formula, R169 for 30 veggie capsules, Faithful to Nature.
2 Vitamin D3
Every cell needs D to work properly, so taking it daily is a no-brainer. Vital for great skin, strong bones, immunity, improved mood, brain function and more.
Omega-3 fatty acids are great for non-creaky joints, heart health, immunity, a happy nervous system, and skin bounce. The body can’t make essential fatty acids, so you need to supplement.
What confuses us? 3 big questions answered
1 How much should I take?
To be certain, you’ll need to see a specialist in integrative and functional medicine or a nutritional therapist. They’ll take a medical history and may order blood tests to determine your specific needs and/or deficiencies, and suggest the correct supplements in the right quantities to address these.
2 Can I take too many?
Surprisingly, despite being natural, it is possible to ‘overdose’ on vitamins and minerals. Check you’re not creating toxicity due to doubling up on certain nutrients (like zinc and iron) by taking more than one supplement that includes these, advises pharmacist Shabir Daya.
3 Are they working?
“Some supplements don’t necessarily produce immediate results,” says Shabir. “Multivitamins, for instance, are basically there to ensure against deficiencies, while something like ginseng will produce a relatively quick response in boosting energy.”
Vegan? Then consider taking…
Vitamin D3 and Omega-3 (see above), then add:
1 Vitamin B12
“This is perhaps the most important supplement for vegans,” advised Medical News Today. “It is crucial for maintaining many bodily processes and plays a role in the formation of red blood cells, helps metabolise proteins and even supports a healthy nervous system.”
“Getting enough iodine is crucial for healthy thyroid function, which controls your metabolism,” says Healthline.com. “In adults, insufficient iodine intake can lead to hypothyroidism, low energy levels, dry skin, tingling in hands and feet, forgetfulness, depression and weight gain.”
Essential for muscle and brain function as it transports oxygen throughout the body. According to The Vegan Society UK, good plant sources of iron include lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, dried apricots and figs, raisins, quinoa and fortified breakfast cereal.
Calcium is best absorbed from food, which mean eating a whole food diet that includes beans, legumes and leafy greens, says Dr Paul Palmer for the South African Vegan Society.
By Health Writer Belinda dos Santos