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The five supplements almost all of us need

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When a biochemist slides into your DMs and tells you what supplements to take to boost your energy levels, immune system and overall health, you listen. Right?

A couple of months ago I was on my fifth illness in three months and battling unrelenting tiredness. I eat well, exercise regularly and get a decent amount of sleep, so what gives?

With more than a three-week wait to see my GP, I decided to test out a few supplements, but didn’t know which to choose. So, naturally, I turned to social media to ask what my followers were taking (in reality, not the best idea). Luckily for me, a biochemist is among them, and Marina slid into my DMs with a few recommendations. Five in fact, which most people are deficient in, so well worth trying.

Her recommendations were magnesium, omega 3, the B vitamins group, vitamin D3 and MK-7 (a form of vitamin K2). Here are the health benefits of each, and whether they worked for me.

@4complexion Supplements i currently take in a day for skin, hair and general health as a biochemist. This is not a medical advice and for informative purposes only. Please always consult a doctor befire taking any supplements. #skincare #supplementsthatwork #supplements #supplementsforskin ♬ original sound – Marina @4complexion

1. Magnesium (citrate or lactate are best)

Most of us don’t get enough magnesium, and Marina tells me: “Magnesium is a co-factor in over 300 enzymatic reactions in our body.” That includes producing energy from our diet, forming proteins (like collagen and muscle), creating and repairing DNA, and muscle movement – the latter is why it’s often recommended for those with restless legs syndrome.

For those with a deficiency, adding magnesium to their diet could result in better exercise performance, boost mood, reduce symptoms of PMS, increase heart and bone health, and improve sleep.

However, there are many different types of magnesium; Marina recommends magnesium citrate or lactate. “Both have better bioavailability,” she tells me (bioavailability measures how readily something is absorbed into your circulation). But if you’re particularly looking to boost cognition or improve sleep, then magnesium l-threonate. “It’s the only one that passes the blood-brain barrier,” she explains.

Tried & tested: Dr.Vegan Magnesium

Promising to be ‘effective’ and offer high bioavailability, Dr.Vegan’s supplement contains magnesium citrate, which has undergone more clinical trials than any other form of magnesium to test the benefits listed above.

2. Omega 3 (we tried omega 6 and 9, too)

An essential lipid that most are likely lacking, omega 3 has many benefits for both your body and brain – it’s the most studied nutrient, in fact. And so far, science has shown interest in how it may help depression and anxiety, can improve eye health, reduce inflammation, may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and various cancers, improve skin health, joint health and sleep.

My recommendation below also contains omega 6 and 9 so, in case you’re wondering…

Omega 6 mostly helps with the production of energy but may also have a positive impact on your immune system. Omega 9 can help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body while increasing ‘good’ cholesterol, and also assist in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Tried & tested: Bio-Synergy Big Red Krill Oil

Not suitable for vegetarians, sadly, Bio-Synergy Big Red Krill Oil supplement offers high levels of omega 3, 6 and 9 from Antarctic krill oil, which promises to be more easily absorbed and used by the body than standard omega 3 found in common fish oils.

Read more: What are wellness shots? Everything you need to know
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Omega 3, 6 and 9 supplement
3. The eight different vitamin Bs

Unusually, the B vitamins aren’t something you need to take year-round, but rather top up from time to time. It’s hard to tell without checking your levels, but Marina advised I could try a two-to-six-week course two or three times a year to maintain healthy levels. Our bodies cannot produce vitamin Bs, and some are mostly found in meat making it hard for vegetarians and vegans to keep their levels up. On top of that, many of them are interdependent on each other so you might not reap the benefits if you’re not getting all eight. Combined, a vitamin B complex could support cell growth, energy levels, eyesight, brain function, digestion, nerve function, hormone production, cholesterol production, muscle tone and cardiovascular health.

Our recommendation: Youth&Earth Liposomal Vitamin B Complex

I managed to find a supplement with all eight B vitamins: B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinamide), B5 (calcium pantothenate), B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (5-MTHF), and B12 (methylcobalamin).

Youth&Earth Liposomal Vitamin B Complex is a liquid supplement that should be taken in 10ml doses each morning and must be consumed within six weeks of opening (making it last 25 days).

4 & 5. Vitamin D3 with MK-7 (aka vitamin K)

The UK government advises everyone to take vitamin D supplements during winter, so that part may not come as a surprise. And then Marina explains: “MK-7 is helpful to take on a continuous basis as it prevents calcification of arteries.”

Vitamin D is essential for bone and muscle health and supporting the function of your immune system. And while there are two main types, vitamin D3 has been shown to have slightly better bioavailability – although vegetarians will need to opt for vitamin D2 which is from fungi rather than animal sources.

MK-7 is actually a form of vitamin K2, which has been shown to have benefits against diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease.

Our recommendation: Diso D3+K2 Supplement

This supplement is in the form of an oral strip – a tiny sheet that dissolves on the tongue. Diso’s D3+K2 comes with a little tin you can pop in your bag, which is handy if you’re forgetful or not often home.

Read more: The truth about superfood, greens and protein powders
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Can supplements improve energy levels?
Did these supplements actually increase my energy and improve my health?

Yes. Apart from a stomach bug that tore through my extended family (supplements are no contender for the norovirus), I stopped catching colds as soon as I started supplementing.

Granted, I started taking them as we transitioned from winter to spring when colds were less abundant, but I do have a child in nursery – a place famed for germs and illnesses. Prior to the supplements, she would come home with nothing but a runny nose while I’d be wiped out for about a week after catching it (and my partner would be completely unaffected), so my immune system was definitely not OK.

My energy levels improved too, within less than a week in fact, and continued to improve. A new symptom did crop up – light-headedness. A sign of low iron, which can also impact energy levels, so I decided to throw that into the mix too and soon found myself in a sort of equilibrium – no real complaints, and so somewhat maxed out on supplements. Thank goodness, as it was already adding up to about £100 a month!

Of course, if you can’t afford it or you’re unsure if it’s safe for you take supplements, you should always see your GP. They can run blood tests, check what you need at what dosage, and ascertain whether you can access anything on prescription. And Marina stresses that, first and foremost, nutrition should come from food. Relying on supplements, rather than eating a diverse diet that covers all food groups, can risk renal failure, liver disease and other problems. So before adding to cart, reflect on your diet and see if there’s changes to be made first.

Our recommendation for iron: NaturesPlus Hema-Plex Iron capsules or tablets

Iron is needed to carry oxygen in the blood and deliver it to muscles. It can help reduce fatigue (especially in menstruating women), and help with restless legs syndrome.

NaturesPlus Hema-Plex Iron capsules or tablets (I couldn’t see a difference between the two other than form), also contain vitamin C, which is needed for the body to absorb iron, and copper, which aids with the transportation of iron through the body.

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