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Are supplements worth the money?

Supplements taken in excess, or low in quality, can do you more harm than good (not to mention impacting negatively on your pocket).  It’s important to be specific about your needs and then tailor a supplement programme around these.  However, before even considering trying to improve your health or weight with pills and potions, you should be eating a highly nutritious, healthy diet.

Assuming your diet is excellent, the following advice would apply when looking for supplements.  Firstly, if you’re not taking a high quality (read ‘expensive’) supplement, you may be doing your liver some damage.  The supplements you’re buying from supermarkets and pharmacy-type stores may tend to be the lower quality ones, in many cases.  Reputable health shops may be a better option for these purchases, as they tend to stock products they themselves have researched and experimented with.  Be warned though – not all expensive supplements are high quality!

What do I recommend?

I’m a minimalist.  My feeling is that Vitamin C is a great one to keep immune systems strong and Omega 3 fish or Krill oil is great for its anti-inflammatory and heart protective qualities.  Vitamin D is a must if you’re not getting into the sun regularly, but since in many parts of South Africa we are exposed to sunshine all year round, there’s no need to spend money on something which is freely available.  In any case, oral supplementation of Vitamin D cannot compare to the benefits of UVB exposure.  I also particularly like using StemEnhance, an adult stem cell enhancer, both personally and professionally.  This product works outstandingly well for improving energy levels, reducing recovery times for both injury and illness and in combating aging. What you may need outside of the above-mentioned supplements depends on so many things and it’s impossible to cover them all now.

Dangerous flow agents

If you are taking supplements be sure to check them for magnesium stearate.  This is a ‘flow’ agent, which stops the supplements from sticking together and allows the machinery to run smoother and faster (and therefore more profitably).  It’s not actually a source of magnesium and may have a negative effect on your immune system function.  This is because stearic acid has been linked to T cell suppression.  It can also lead to the formation of a biofilm in your gut, preventing proper absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract.

Above all, be highly selective about the supplements you do choose to use, and do your homework before deciding on which brands would be good.  You’d almost certainly do this before buying yourself a car and considering the fact that your body lasts a whole lot longer than one of these, I think it’s prudent to consider how these products might affect it!

Our approach - Tanya Wyatt background

Tanya Wyatt

Tanya has written regularly for various health and fitness magazines such as Men’s Health, Marie-Claire, Cosmopolitan and Shape (she also served on the advisory board for Shape), as well as for local South Africa newspaper publications. In 2004, Tanya wrote two internationally released health and fitness-related books, both  published by New Holland. She recently wrote her third book, currently submitted to publishers for consideration.