Why should I take supplements?
Supplementation aims to “bridge the gap” between your nutritional intake and the optimal levels needed to prevent chronic related diseases. In a world where processed foods are readily accessible and are depleted of important nutrients, supplementation is becoming more and more important.
What is the difference between RDA and optimal levels?
The RDA (recommended daily allowance) was developed during World War II, with the aim of soldiers achieving the minimum amount of nutrients to prevent acute diseases such as Rickets, Scurvy and Podagra. Countless studies have since suggested that these levels are not adequate in preventing chronic related diseases such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and auto-immune diseases. The Australian and New Zealand Nutrient Reference Values Guideline, released by the government in 2005, is a great reference as it lists the optimal levels of the majority of vitamins and minerals. (https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n35.pdf)
Are all supplements created equally?
No. In Australia, nutritional supplements can be broadly classified into food grade and pharmaceutical grade. Food grade supplements meet the minimum standard for human consumption while pharmaceutical grade supplements meet higher standard levels; the same as drugs given to you by your local GP. Pharmaceutical grade supplements are purer and of a higher quality; making them a must when selecting your supplements.
What does bioavailability mean and how does it relate to my supplement?
Bioavailability refers to the percentage of a given nutrient to reach its target organ/tissue. The higher the bioavailability, the more efficient the nutrient is at reaching its end destination. Inferior supplements usually contain minerals that are in the “salt” form (Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Sulfate). Compared to more expensive supplements that contain”chelated” mineral forms (Calcium Citrate, Magnesium Threonate), the salt form has a lower bioavailability; meaning your supplement might be less effective than you may think.
How quickly should my supplement dissolve?
According to the United States Pharmacopeia Guidelines, vitamin and mineral supplements that are added to warm water and are consistently agitated should dissolve within 30 mins. This mimics the breakdown of the supplement occurring in the stomach.
How much sun light do I need to get my required Vitamin D levels?
The ideal amount of sunlight needed varies on a number of factors including skin colour, age and hereditary predispositions. Generally, light skinned people need 30 mins of sunlight between the hours of 10am and 2pm while darker skinned people may require up to 1 hour.
How much Vitamin D do I need to take on a daily basis?
This is dependent on your Vitamin D (25-OH Vit D) blood levels. The ideal levels are between 70-90 ng/ml. If you are within this range, 1,000 IU units are suitable to maintain your optimal level. If you are deficient, compounded amounts of up to 6,000 IU might be necessary to increase your blood levels, followed by a maintenance phase of 1,000 IU.
Who is most at risk of Vitamin D deficiency?
Those who do not readily spend their time in the sun on a daily basis; the elderly, white collar workers and people who regularly use make-up/sun screen tend to be most at risk.
Why take fish oil supplements?
Fish oil supplements have anti-inflammatory properties which have been known to mitigate your risk of chronic related diseases including heart disease, arthritis, auto-immune diseases and diabetes.
Are fish oil supplements all the same?
No. There are two types of fish oil. Those that are in the “ethyl ester” form and those that are in the triglyceride form. Manufacturers have been known to take the natural fish oil and concentrate it to form the ethyl ester form. This has a poorer bioavailability than the triglyceride form and should be avoided when choosing a fish oil supplement.
What is the difference between krill and fish oil?
Krill oil comes from Krill; tiny species located in the Antarctic. Fish oil is extracted from oily fish such as sardines or mackerel. Both contain the key anti-inflammatory compounds EPA and DHA. Krill oil has these in the free phospholipid form while fish oil typically has them in the triglyceride form. Studies have yet to definitely prove that the free phosphoplipid form is superior to the triglyceride form. Krill oil also has a distinct red colour attributed to the anti-oxidant Astaxanthin. This helps protect the fatty acids of EPA and DHA from readily degrading when exposed to warm temperatures. High quality fish oil supplements have a small amount of Vitamin D or E to prevent the fatty acids from readily degrading.