This is probably my most asked question. When I started working at Holland and Barrett I would constantly be asked it by customers. To be honest supplements is somewhat of a taboo subject and there are so many different views on it.
About 18 months ago I went for an interview at Julie Neville’s house for a position at her Nutrition and Wellbeing company. One of the questions that came up was what supplements do I take and which would I recommend. I confidently said, “Oh I don’t take any supplements, I believe in sourcing everything I need naturally from a healthy balanced diet” Funny considering I was suffering from extreme fatigue, anxiety, low energy during menstruation and catching colds almost monthly. Obviously she didn’t agree but luckily she liked me enough to give me the job!
Anyway, fast forward to now and how things have changed. One good thing about Holland and Barrett is that from day one you are trained in supplements through workbooks and training courses, they also have a registered Nutritionist to support staff only a phone call away. So from my own personal Nutrition training, my Holland and Barrett training and from doing a crazy amount of research I have found out what works for me. Those health issues which were bothering me 18 months ago now don’t. So what changed? Well I made some little lifestyle changes and some dietary changes. By dietary I don’t mean following a fad diet and cutting out gluten..I love bread and pizza, sorry! But adding foods like maca powder and chia seeds to my food to get me a boost of energy. I was drinking sugary energy drinks everyday, so replaced them with Alibi Health Drink and maca in my smoothies. This alone helped to lower my physical symptoms of anxiety. There is so much rubbish in energy drinks, they give you nasty crash and burns, palpitations which you don’t need when you are an anxiety sufferer and lots of calories!
In terms of supplements this is what I have been taking since October.
1. Magnesium. My favourite supplement in the world, I know that I am constantly blogging or tweeting about the benefits but I am honestly so amazed by how much it has improved my health. I started taking it due to its muscle relaxant benefits. Obviously you can get magnesium from foods but I want to know that I am getting the recommended daily amount everyday so I take a supplement. If you haven’t read my magnesium post, then have a read here. Also if you type magnesium in to my search bar you can read my other posts on the benefits.
Magnesium deficiency symptoms can include fatigue, depression and abnormal heart rhythms. I suffered from a few of these and have seen a huge improvement, especially on the fatigue side and along with CBT it has really helped my anxiety. I guess it’s known as the ‘anti-stress mineral’ for a reason.
2. Feroglobin B-12 Liquid Iron- I have had anaemia issues for 10 years, initially this was because I switched to a vegetarian diet but my diet wasn’t very balanced. I was at university and living on processed bean burgers, ready meals and peanut butter sandwiches. I also get very painful periods and extreme low energy during menstruation, this has been since I was 11. So I started taking Feroglobin , which has really helped. As it’s liquid it is absorbed quicker than tablets and it is more gentle on the stomach. It is a combination of iron, B Vitamins, Zinc. As well as being beneficial for the symptoms I mentioned it’s also good to use in pregnancy. Actually when I was pregnant I used Spatone liquid iron which I hated the taste of, so personally I would recommend Feroglobin. B-12 in general is good to supplement with, as a deficiency can cause so many problems.
3. Bioglan Superfoods Powders- Bioglan have lots of different powders, I have only featured two. I use the Acai one and Drew uses the Barleygrass. We use our Nutribullet everyday and these powders are handy for mixing in to smoothies. I also add the Acai powders in smoothie bowls. These are good for busy lifestyles and for giving an energy boost. The Barleygrass powder is the better out the two in terms of ingredients. I probably use these twice a week.
4. Multivitamins and Zinc. Now I don’t take these together. I take a Multivitamin during cold season but I am lazy at other times and forget. However I find Zinc to be really really good for my skin and nails. So at the moment I take this daily, it’s also good for speeding up recovery from infections. I would say don’t bother spending lots of money on hair, skin and nails supplements. Just use Zinc, it’s cheap and does the job! Again you can either use Feroglobin which has Zinc in it or use Zinc on its own.
5. 5-HTP- This is metabolite of the amino acid L-Tryptophan. And it is used mainly for insomnia, anxiety and low mood. It is used by the body to make serotonin. A deficiency in serotonin can cause anxiety, depression, migraines and insomnia, as well and some other behavioural disorders. I have recently started using this alongside magnesium to prevent anxiety symptoms from returning and to make sure my lovely ability so fall asleep at the drop of a hat stays!
I hope this post has helped answer any questions. As I always say a balanced diet should ensure that we get everything that our body requires, but if have a busy lifestyle or recovering from illness, or even if like me you live in England and don’t want to keep paying £9 for prescriptions for medication that can potentially give you side effects then it’s good to know that there are alternatives. With everything there are supplements which are totally useless and have false claims, and there are ones which are great (hint, hint, magnesium 🙂 ) if you have any questions at all on any of the supplements that Holland and Barrett sell feel free to drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on here and I’ll reply asap. And obviously always consult your GP before taking any supplements.