The truth behind health supplements, explained by celebrity naturopath Dr Nigma Talib
And the no-brainer vitamins we need
Remember chewing on gummy bear multivitamins as a kid? It was simple and kind of tasty. As an adult, vitamins are still important, but picking the right one is a lot more complicated. Each offers overwhelming promises of shiny hair, strong nails, glowing skin, and a healthy gut. We asked Los Angeles and London-based naturopath Dr Nigma Talib (her client list includes Penelope Cruz, Sienna Miller and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) to help us make sense of health supplement aisles.
Vitamins are our friends
Just sticking to a healthy diet isn’t going to cut it anymore. We need supplements to give our bodies an additional health kick. “The World Health Agricultural Association has reported fewer vitamins and minerals in our soil, and with pollution our food sources don’t have what we need,” she says. “For example, taking a curcumin tablet will give you better anti-inflammatory benefits. Adding it to food on a daily basis is great to keep low-grade inflammation at bay.”
Sometimes our lifestyle habits eat up into our natural vitamin and mineral preserves. “High stress levels are known to burn our B vitamins. Certain medication depletes our natural vitamin resources as well. Like, cholesterol medicines reduce CoQ10 (an antioxidant that prevents cell damage), diuretics and blood pressure medicines deplete magnesium and B vitamins,” warns Dr Talib.
The supplement checklist
“There’s no cookie cutter solution for everyone, but most of us are deficient in vitamins A, B and D,” she says. While it’s best to consult a doctor before you start popping pills, there are a few we could all do with.
B-complex: “This is great if you’ve been under a lot of stress or have been working long hours,” she says. It contains 8 different types of B vitamins that help us stay energised through the day.
Collagen: “Marine collagen is the most researched and also the most effective form. It’s also really good for people suffering from leaky gut; the collagen heals the gut and reduces inflammation. Our Immortal Skin Collagen Powder is known to reduce wrinkles and lines within 8 weeks.”
Magnesium: “Everyone can benefit from taking magnesium. I highly recommend it.” Magnesium is great for anyone with poor digestion, insomnia, anxiety, muscle spasms and much more.
Vitamin D: It tops Dr Talib’s list, especially for people who don’t spend a lot of time in the sun. “A large per cent of the population has low vitamin D levels. If you’ve been diagnosed with a deficiency you must consider taking a supplement.”
Read labels carefully
Not all supplements are made the same. Many of them have harmful ingredients and additives that cause you more harm than good. Especially, the gummy bear variety that is all sugar and defeats the purpose of taking a health supplement. Dr Talib recommends you avoid any supplement that contains the following ingredients:
- Magnesium Stearate (a flow agent and binder)
- Stearic Acid (a flow agent and lubricant)
- Carrageenan (a thickening agent)
- Gelatin (common encapsulation coating and binder)
- Titanium Dioxide (colouring)
- Silicon Dioxide (a flow agent)
- Lanolin (diluent)
- Glycerin (preservative, sweetener and lubricant)