ABC of vitamins can confuse, so seek advice before buying

Supplements should be taken as part of a healthy diet.
Supplements should be taken as part of a healthy diet. Luka Kauzlaric

VITAMIN C, vitamin D, vitamin E, fish oils and magnesium - the list goes on.

Today we live in a world of supplements; easy to access and easy to take. But professionals are urging people to be mindful of the pills they are popping.

About 24.2% males and 34.5% females reported taking a multivitamin or other vitamins on the previous day when asked in a survey collected as part of a national Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study.

Gladstone Chemist Warehouse pharmaceutical manger Logan Wong has been in the industry for five years.

He said people were always trying to take health into their own hands.

"It's probably something that's seasonal too," he said.

"When it's getting onto winter we see an increase in zinc, echinacea and garlic sold."

During the 12 months the Chapman Dr chemist has been open Mr Wong said he had seen an increase in supplements shelved.

"But people should also check with their doctor or chemist if they are on medication - some supplements interact with certain things," he said.

Gladstone Holistic Health naturopath Stacey Curio said lately she has observed that the baby boomer generation was mostly prone to taking supplements.

I do think people like the notion - taking a pill to cure an ill.

"But it comes down to quality over quantity," she said urging people to take only what they need.

"People get the best results when they manage their lifestyle - sleep, exercise, enough sun exposure and less stress."

Ms Curio urged people to first seek advice from a qualified health care professional.

"I do think people like the notion - taking a pill to cure an ill.

"But don't overload yourself with the latest supplemental craze, it may just be clever marketing."

She said it is good to see people becoming more health conscious and taking supplements, but many over-the-counter products are inferior to what people need.

At the end of the day she said a healthy diet was critical.

"In the wise words of Dr Mark Hyman, 'what you put at the end of your fork is more powerful medicine than anything you will find at the bottom of a pill bottle'."

Fun fish oil facts

  • Heart Foundation research shows some 40% of Australians either don't know or are unsure if omega-3 contributes to heart health.
  • Three in five Australians don't eat the recommended 2-3 serves of oily fish each week that are required for good heart health.
BALANCED: Jacqui Smith is a believer in certain supplements, but is watchful to align her balanced healthy diet with the supplements she takes.
BALANCED: Jacqui Smith is a believer in certain supplements, but is watchful to align her balanced healthy diet with the supplements she takes. Luka Kauzlaric

Supplements and eating well key to better health

JACQUI Smith has a personal revelation from taking supplements, complimenting her healthy eating lifestyle.

Since her university days on the Sunshine Coast, the Gladstone local has been taking various supplements to increase her health and energy levels.

And now, while she is a preventative health officer by trade, Ms Smith, 29, shows no bias when it comes to the world of vitamins.

Her own experience tells her story.

"Originally I was seeing a naturopath (in my uni days) for a number of different health needs.

"She prescribed a few supplements for me and upon taking them I started feeling much better."

Ms Smith said while she studied nutrition and naturopathy, she proceeded with her own research - reading both sides of the argument.

"I thought I would experiment with myself."

She said she was relatively healthy and had no known disease - just a few digestive complaints as a child.

I don't believe supplements can replace eating a variety of fresh, unprocessed, plant-based foods.

But after taking supplements prescribed for her - Ms Smith noticed the difference.

"I felt I had more energy, got sick a lot less and generally it made me feel healthier.

"But I take supplements as part of a balanced diet."

From her research she also learnt much about Australia's poor soil quality.

"If the soil is deficient in minerals, the food grown in this soil will be deficient."

Ms Smith believes in supplements made from whole food sources rather than vitamins made in a lab.

And with that in mind she takes generally takes a greens supplement and probiotic each morning.

"I don't believe supplements can replace eating a variety of fresh, unprocessed, plant-based foods," she said.

Supplements can’t replace eating fresh, unprocessed, plant-based foods.
Supplements can’t replace eating fresh, unprocessed, plant-based foods. Luka Kauzlaric


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