Whist studying nutrition at university supplements were always pushed to the naughty step. They were regarded as unnecessary other than for severe cases. This meant our time spent focused on these was short. This in turn led me to develop a negative opinion when it comes to supplements for myself. I choose to use my diet to fulfil my daily needs of micronutrients, regarding most supplements simply as ‘expensive wee’. This is because many vitamins and minerals are water soluble and the body cannot store them, so they are just lost in the urine. However, I feel that it is time to open my mind to one of the industry’s biggest retail markets and realise they can hold their place on my very own shelf if and when used correctly.
On 1st December I began to introduce a selection of supplements into my diet, each serving a specific purpose aiding me in fighting off the repercussions of the festive season.
Vitamin D Drops:
Vitamin D, more commonly known as the sunshine vitamin as it is what the body creates when we are exposed to UV rays. It’s self explanatory that vitamin D deficiency is more common in the wintermonths due to the lack of UV and all the winter layers. We can up our intake of vitamin D by increasingour intake of oily fish, liver, red meat, dairy and eggs. However, sometimes our bodies may need a little boost. I have decided to take 5ml Vitamin D (2,000 IU) drops to keep me topped up whilst the sunshine refuses to play! Adequate vitamin D levels in the body aid calcium absorption helping to build stronger bones and teeth. I suffered a stress fracture to my shin a few years ago and I am prone to shin splints ever since, hence I am interested to see if this may help take away that achy pain often experienced when I run. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and so can be stored in the body. This means it is possible to build up toxic levels within your body, so when taking on extra doses be aware that you are not exceeding 40,000 IU per day especially over couple of months.
Milk Thistle Capsules:
Milk thistle (silymarin) is a flowering herb related to the daisy and ragweed family. It is thought to be linked to liver detoxification and improved heart health due to its cholesterol lowering properties. Over the Christmas and New Year period we all know we drink a little more than we usually would, so I’ll be taking milk thistle before and after the ‘boozy days’ helping to protect my liver from the toxins I wouldn’t usually include in my diet. And no this is not an excuse to bash back all the drinks.
Maca is more commonly known as Peruvian Ginseng, even though it is actually not a ginseng! It is native to the Andes in Peru and due to it being grown at high altitude it absorbs all the nutrients from the rich soil. The root of the plant is dried and then ground into a fine pale yellow powder, much like ginger. It contains a rich source of calcium and potassium and a moderate source of iron, iodine, copper, manganese, zinc, and omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). Supplementation has been linked to improved bone density due to containing more calcium per gram than milk! This pairs maca and vitamin D perfectly. so I will also be taking it every day along side my drops. Calcium is an essential ingredient for the formation of the skeleton and teeth, as well as efficient functioning of the heart and kidneys. Maca has also been linked to improved energy levels and boosted sex drive! Lets be honest the winter months aren’t the sexiest time for any of us!
I sourced all my vitamins from Viridian. Yes, little more expensive but they are organic and natural, so no nasties along side your goodies. Each bottle also gives back to charity as well as being 100% recyclable.
So, 2 months down the line… how am I feeling? The result is definitely a little perkier! Vitamin D and maca don’t claim to help prevent shin splints that is only my assumption from their blended health benefits. Saying that it appears I may have outdone myself as since taking the supplements despite upping my mileage I’ve suffered no further problems. For this reason I would be partial to maintain my vitamin D supplementation during the darker months.
Taking milk thistle was never an excuse for me to stick a straw in the top of a bottle of Moet over Christmas, New Years Eve and my birthday. I only really drink in moderation, (my Cardiff Uni days are a thing of the past!) but still I do suffer from the classic headache even after just one glass of red. Since taking milk thistle before and after drinking I have had no headaches or nausea. This sups here to stay!
Finally, maca. This I have added to shakes and porridge in the past, but I have never consumed as a supplement. Many of my friends know that I am partial to falling asleep pretty much anywhere, be it on the tube, bus, in front of the TV or at the table. You name it, I’ve napped it. I haven’t changed my schedule or my sleeping hours, but since taking maca I have not fallen asleep on a tube and as a result always arrived at the right stop awake!
Yes, I know that many of my changes could be down to a variety of environmental and lifestyle factors, but what I have learnt from these two months is that you don’t just need to take supplements if you are ill. They can be used just to reboot your system and offer a helping hand when things get a little colder!