At Healthista HQ, the fussy scribes all have a supplement or three we swear by. Here, we round up our best supplements of the year; pills, powders and potions that have passed our stringent standards
Best multivitamin – Nutri Advanced Multi Essentials One-A-Day
In an ideal world, we would all be eating an abundance of organic, nutrient dense foods grown in pure soil without any chemicals to preserve them. However, the reality is, many of us struggle to reach our five a day of fruit and vegetables. The Western diet today, according to this research, has less than adequate amounts of the key vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. This is where multivitamins come in, claiming to make up for our inadequacy, and if this study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is anything to go by with the finding that supplements help adults meet the recommended intake of vitamins and minerals, it may be worth a consider for our health.
NutriAdvanced is one supplement brand we have clocked in the kitchens of many a nutritionist (as in, the one she/he takes herself) including Rick Hay, May Simpkin and Ali Godbold – one of the reasons we chose the brand as one of the star supplement makers available on the new Healthista Shop. Nutri Advanced Multi Essentials One-A-Day contains a whopping 30 different essentials, taking care of the immune system, tiredness, hair, muscle and cognitive function to name a few. It sets itself aside from competitors by using vitamins that are in active form. This means they are ‘body-ready’, bypassing the need for conversion, which some people struggle to do, and making them much more quickly absorbed. They are also in high concentration – the vitamin D, for example, is 1000IU, which is more than some stand alone vitamin D supplements.
Best omega 3 – Biocare Mega EPA
Nutritionists are always on at us to eat two pieces of oily fish a week for heart health, skin health, benefits to the brain, joints and even mental health. This is due to omega-3 fatty acids (such as DHA and EPA) which can also be found in walnuts, flaxseed and for cheaters – fish oil supplements. Although they aren’t going to have quite the same effect as a good serving of salmon, the supporting evidence has made fish oil the most popular natural product used by adults in the United States in 2012. It is FDA approved to lower triglycerides levels, blood pressure and cholesterol, but is also considered ‘brain food’ for its support of neurotransmitters which affect our mood and cognitive function. Healthista’s choice is Biocare Mega EPA which claims to have an outstanding quality and high potency, using natural triglyceride forms and fish oil from anchovines and sardines. Biocare is the another supplement brand we proudly chose to stock on Healthista Shop because we’re always hearing practitioners recommend them, not only for their high concentrations and stringent production standards but also for their biovailibility. This particular supplement is editor Anna Magee’s favourite as its ratio of DHA:EPA is the optimum required for mood benefits (adequate levels can help reduce anxiety).
Best liver tonic – Synergy Organic Chlorella Powder
If you’re looking to detox the body, let us introduce you to chlorella. Journal of Medicinal Food researchers state, ‘chlorella intake resulted in noticeable reductions in body fat percentage, serum total cholesterol, and fasting blood glucose levels’. An intensely studied freshwater plant, science has shown that chlorella works its magic by wrap itself around toxins in the body such as lead, mercury and uranium. This makes it a great liver cleanser, but that’s not all; due to containing vitamins such as C, B and D, it’s supportive of the immune system, which in turn leads to better health, and could even soothe PMS symptoms by helping the body detoxify excess oestrogen and progesterone (honestly, adding a teaspoon to her smoothie every morning made editor Anna Magee’s PMS-related sore breasts disappear). It’s like the algae has a brain of it’s own. Synergy Natural Organic Chlorella Powder is a favourite of Healthista’s, containing a complete protein (58 per cent), all the B vitamins, vitamin C and E as well as essential fatty acids in an easily absorbed formula. A teaspoon a day in your smoothie and you will barely know you’re drinking pond life.
Best cold and flu fix – A Vogel Echinaforce Drops
One day, the common cold shall be cured with the pop of a single pill (we don’t know this for fact – we are just fantasising). Until then, echinacea is a life saviour for many who fall unlucky to the winter bug, including Adele, who reportedly takes it four times a day to keep from getting ill. Echinacea is a plant native to America, but now largely cultivated in Europe on herb farms due to its popularity. By activating chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation, it may stave off colds at the first sign, or reduce sniffly symptoms once they have taken hold. Many people swear by the stuff, and according to the largest clinical study on it, there might be proof as to why. Results from a study undertaken by the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff University showed that echinacea taken by healthy adults every day for four months could result in a 26 per cent reduction in the length of a cold, although the study has limitations. Not all echinacea is the same, A Vogel’s drops use purpurea herb, freshly harvested and organically grown to maximise its potency – by almost three times, according to them.
Best vitamin D – BetterYou Vitamin D Oral Spray
If there is any supplement worth considering, it’s vitamin D. According to the experts, many Brits are dangerously deficient in the crucial vitamin, one in five to be precise, and our weather is largely to blame. We are able to produce it by having our skin exposed to sunlight, which of course is blanketed by a grey sky most of the year in Britain. Some people are at more risk than others, such as those with darker skin or elderly people who are housebound, and symptoms (if any are present) are largely unnoticed. These include recurring colds, aches and pains, frequent infections or simply tiredness. With long term increased risk of cardiovascular disease or even cancer, it has become a serious public health issue.
GPs can test your vitamin D levels but at-home test kits also do the trick. Reputable vitamin company BetterYou distributes a Vitamin D at home test kit on behalf of the NHS which can help advise you on your next step. Taking a vitamin D supplement is super easy – BetterYou DLux3000 Oral Spray absorbs through the inner cheek, which has been found to be 2.5 times more effective than capsules. Keep it on your desk throughout winter and it’ll last three months.
Best for skin – Healthista Glow Food
If a glowing complexion is what you’re after, certain superfoods have the ability to repair, hydrate and increase collagen production and turnover. Incorporate more blueberries, raspberries, macqui berries and strawberries into the diet, as these are filled with polyphenols and anthocyanidins, powerful antioxidants that can help fight free radical damage on the skin’s surface that results from environmental and lifestyle toxins and stressors, as well as helping with healthy immune function. Exotic berries such as goji and acai have similiar properties. One small 2010 study on mice published in 2010 in the journal Photochemical, Photobiology and Science found that those that consumed goji berry juice were protected from UV-radiation induced skin damage. They also have high levels of vitamin A which is great for skin cell turnover. All these berries aren’t realistically going to be eaten in your daily routine, which is why Healthista packed them all into a food-sourced nutrient powder, a scoop of which can easily be thrown into a smoothie or added to water. What’s more, the blend also uses flaxseeds and other healthy fats to increase skin firmness and plumpness along with olive leaf and grape seed extract, the former with abilities to protect the skin from sun damage, and the latter proving to improve blood circulation to the skin. And if the reviews are anything to go by, we think we’ve stumbled onto the cult product of 2018.
Best for constipation – Fushi Wellbeing Aloe Vera Juice
You’ll be used to seeing aloe vera used in skincare products, being a saving grace for sunburn and soother for skin conditions (Healthista’s Vanessa praises the gel helping heal her eczema). But it’s not just external uses that this thick stemmed plant is harvested for. For thousands of years it has also been used for support digestion and relieve constipation; in fact it’s a super-gentle yet effective aid for detox. The slimy water-filled tissue is used for gel products, but the thick sap of the leaves has a laxative effect, so much so that It’s not available in the US as an over-the-counter medication. It’s the anthraquinones that stimulate bowel movement by increasing intestinal water content, and the plants anti-inflammatory components that encourages digestive bacteria. These effects are well established, such as in a randomised trial of 28 adults, aloe vera juice was reported to be a positive natural constipation relief remedy in comparison to a placebo. Healthista nutritionist Rick Hay recommends Fushi Wellbeing’s Aloe Vera Juice is grown organically in Mexico, cold processed and unfiltered to maximise potency. Take a tablespoon in a small glass of water every morning on an empty stomach.
Best hangover cure – Schwabe Thisilyn Milk Thistle Extract
Partial to a little over indulgence of the booze? Or perhaps an over-eater? No fear, Milk Thistle is here, and according to its historic medicinal use of 2000 years, it has the ability to relieve symptoms such as indigestion or an upset stomach. This is due to its main anti-inflammatory ingredient, silymarin. In animal studies such as this one, silymarin has been found to increase glutathione, a powerful antioxidant which is crucial for liver detoxification, and help the liver regenerate cells. Other traditional uses for the natural herb, a purple flower referred to as the ‘holy thistle’, include to help problems with the kidneys and gall bladder. Although certain bodies say more evidence is needed to support such claims, it’s no doubt a hangover remedy worth trying. Healthista editor Anna Magee takes two Schwabe’s Thisilyn Milk Thistle Maximum Strength before starting to drink, two before bed and two the morning after and the effect is no hangover tummy and a much reduced headache. Why did we choose Schwabe? Good question. The answer is important. We chose Schwabe because they produce and test their products to pharmaceutical standards and their formulations contain the dosages that are proven to have the effects that herb has been traditionally used for. After all, anyone can put some pretty packaging on a box, stick a herb on it and market it. Schwabe’s products all have the THR mark which is a government scheme that brands have to apply to which means they are a licensed, regulated Tradtional Herbal Remedy. Don’t buy one that doesn’t have this mark. In fact, one of the reasons we created Healthista Shop was so we could share such information with you. Schwabe also make formulations for mood, menopause and coughs and colds.
Best for weight loss – Myprotein Inulin
Inulin may be a good supplement of choice when those extra pounds are proving difficult to budge. It’s an ingredient with many health benefits, one being that it is a prebiotic that feeds good bacteria in the gut. It’s found in starchy carbohydrate foods, such as sweet potato and bananas, with suggested fat-burning benefits. As it’s a fibre, it will give the feeling of fullness, reduce cravings by controlling blood sugar levels, and help balance bowel movements. According to Healthista nutritionist Rick Hay, inulin has been proven to burn fat around the abdominal cavity called visceral fat, a type of fat that sits unhealthily around the internal organs caused by a bad diet and stress. (For that reason, inulin is an ingredient in Healthista’s Lean Diet protein powder). One randomised controlled trial published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism on 44 subjects found that those supplementing with inulin lost five per cent of their body weight in 18 weeks. Next time you make a smoothie, add some inulin to see how it can improve satiety. As it has a slightly sweet taste, its often used in baking as a binding ingredient.
Best performance booster – Reg Programme Beetroot powder
Superfoods are making their way for the next big thing – beetroot. It’s a hit with fitness fanatics as it has been experimented with in number of studies for its ability to enhance performance, fight fatigue and boost energy. This is mainly due to the nitrates and iron in beetroot aiding red blood cell production, meaning more oxygen is carried around the body and you can last longer on those enduring exercises. For example, in a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, runners who loaded up on the red stuff before a 5K shaved 1.5 percent off their time, and cyclists were almost three per cent faster after two cups of juice according to these studies. Research is ongoing, but considering it’s a vegetable containing magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and some copper, zinc, iron and manganese (phew), it a supplement gaining popularity fast. If you prefer an all-round boost powder for your workouts, you will LOVE Healthista’s new Body Food nutrient powder which is like a healthy pre-workout which contains high levels of food sourced beetroot powder as well as Yerba Mate, a South American energy enhancer and matcha green tea for metabolism and fat-burning – our editor Anna Magee takes a scoop in water in her shaker bottle (500ml) during her HIIT workouts and the power it gives for doing explosive moves like plyometrics and sprints is unbelievable – and, it comes with no crash afterwards.
Best fibre supplement – KIKI Organic Psyllium Husk Powder
The sluggish, heavy feeling of constipation is not ideal. This, alongside risk of weight gain, poor blood sugar and cholesterol levels are typical symptoms of a diet low in fibre. On average, most people in the UK get about 18g of fibre a day, but the NHS recommends we should be aiming for 30g from sources such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains – a typical healthy diet. But most OTC fibre supplments are hard on the gut and strip the body of nutrients making you feel uncomfortable. That’s not healthy. Psyllium husk supplement (a soluble fibre) can keep things moving in the bowels without leading to such over-reactions. We love KIKI Organic’s Psyllium Husk Powder which provides 2.7g of fibre per serving and can be added to smoothies. It absorbs water to form a gel-like substance, which helps to soften the stools and get them sliding (sorry). What’s more, by expanding in the stomach, it can help you feel fuller, and some recommend taking it before meals to curb overeating and reap weight loss benefits. We love KIKI Organic as a brand because their supplements are sustainably sourced from foods, and food-source is the next big thing for 2018.
Best for joints – Higher Nature MSM Powder
If you didn’t know already, sulfur is kind of essential for our existence. It’s a mineral found in our bodies that contributes to the proper development of connective tissue, skeletal integrity, skin health and energy, and levels drop as we age. As well as this, it isn’t uncommon for the modern diet to be lacking in foods with sulfur content, such as cruciferous vegetables, protein and eggs – however there aren’t any proven symptoms of a deficiency. So what is MSM? Methylsulfonylmethane is a natural source of sulfur and often regarded as a miracle supplement because the list of problems its used to treat. Leaky gut syndrome, asthma, yeast infections, muscle soreness, fatigue, PMS symptoms, hair loss and the most common, chronic joint pain. Extensive research shows that people with arthritis, knee or back problems and a limited range of motion experience can benefit from the supplement. Such as this clinical trial on 118 patients, whereby, compared to a placebo, those who took an MSM supplement over 12 weeks (500 milligrams plus 500 milligrams of glucosamine three time a day), received the biggest improvement in their pain. Evidence also strongly supports MSM’s helping hand in muscle pain, injury and recovery time, too.
Best probiotic – Biocare BioAcidophilus Forte
Probiotics are one supplement that everyone can benefit from by feeding good bacteria in the gut. The gut plays a pivotal role in our overall health but is often left in a shabby state from poor lifestyle choices and antibiotic overuse. In 2014, a landmark study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation from New York University said: ‘The composition of the microbiome and its activities are involved in most, if not all, of the biological processes that constitute human health and disease.’ Other peer-reviewed studies have linked gut bacteria to immunity, skin health, Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS) and even autism. So how can you get a dosage of the internal healer, especially during these winter months? Each probiotic uses a different set of live strains of bacteria, and it’s important to find the best form for you. BioAcidophilus Forte provides 30 billion live probiotic bacteria per capsule which is considered a premium strength and this includes the clinically researched LAB4 blend, suitable for those wishing to use a premium strength probiotic. It’s expensive we know, so if you can’t afford to take it daily, try a course after antibiotics, holidays or times when you have been under intense stress as these all affect your intestinal bacteria.
Best protein powder – Healthista Lean Diet Vegan Protein in Vanilla
After searching high and low for a vegan protein powder that ticks all boxes (keeps you full, is sugar-free, tastes amazing, gives you energy without a crash…), Healthista editor Anna Magee decided making her own was the only choice. The new Healthista protein range for weight loss has been formulated by nutritionist Rick Hay, a lecturer in weight management at the College of Naturopathic Medicine, and uses cutting edge ingredients. We are talking inulin and chicory root, which has been shown to reduce fat round the tummy, konjac root to suppress appetite (and its effectiveness is shockingly good), matcha green tea for metabolism and glutamine for muscle recovery. Most importantly, it tastes delicious despite being sweetened only with stevia. That makes it just 89 calories per serving, and with a great amino acid profile, it comes in at 14-15 grams of protein. The vegan protein in vanilla, made with hemp, pea, rice and pumpkin seeds, is our top choice, followed closely by the whey chocolate flavour, it’s amazing.
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