Things to be aware of
What are RNIs?
RNIs (Reference Nutrient Intakes) are the levels of intake of essential nutrients that are considered to meet the known needs of most healthy people.
Upper safe levels
Nutritional scientists have identified upper tolerable levels for the long-term use of vitamin and mineral supplements. These reflect the doses that most people can take every day without experiencing side effects.
In many cases, these doses are a lot higher than the NRV in your supplement. For a few supplements, however, the upper safe level is close to the recommended daily amount (e.g. for iron and magnesium).
If you are combining supplements that might contain the same vitamins or minerals, check the combined doses carefully to ensure you do not breach upper safe levels, except under medical advice (e.g. to treat iron-deficiency anaemia).
What about supplements that already combine vitamins and minerals?
Some supplements have a synergistic effect when used together, which is why glucosamine and chondroitin is one of the most popular combined supplements. Calcium and vitamin D are also often used together, as vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium from the intestines. Similarly, vitamin C boosts the uptake of dietary iron. One of the most popular combinations for many people is a multivitamin and mineral plus an omega 3 fish oil as this provides a good foundation for nutritional health.
- If you order from Healthspan's call centre, their Nutritional Advisors will automatically let you know if you are likely to go above upper safe limits based on the supplements you purchase.
- If you have a medical condition and are thinking about taking supplements always check with your doctor or pharmacist first. This is especially important if you are taking prescribed medicines or over-the-counter remedies. Many drugs are known to interact with foods or supplements, so always check for potential interactions before taking them.
Water-soluble vs fat-soluble
Vitamins fall into one of two categories based on their solubility. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are readily lost from the body via the kidneys, so a regular daily intake is important to avoid deficiencies. By contrast, fat-soluble vitamins are more readily stored in liver and fat cells, so it takes longer for low dietary intakes to lead to a deficiency. It is important not to exceed recommended doses of fat-soluble vitamins as excess could build up in the body and cause toxicity.
Examples of water-soluble vitamins:
Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, biotin, C.
Vitamin B12 is unusual as, although it is water-soluble, the liver can store significant amounts.
Examples of fat-soluble vitamins:
Vitamins A, D, E and K.
Delivery methods are important, too
With such an extensive range of vitamin and mineral delivery methods to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you. The reason behind this diversity stems from our belief in personalisation when it comes to health; no one product is perfect for everyone, and we hope this is reflected in our supplement range, as well in our development of new delivery methods such as our range of 'opti' supplements.
What is opti-absorption?
The term 'opti' essentially means that the formulation of the supplement is optimised to ensure maximum absorption by the body.
An optimised formula is based on research into the most bioavailable (easily absorbed) ingredients. An optimised supplement will supply nutrients that are quickly absorbed in a form that your cells can use as speedily as possible.
If you do struggle to take capsules, Harvard Medical School has some great top tips for making your life easier.
But if swallowing capsules really isn't your thing...
Here are some different ways of making sure you don't miss out on your vitamins:
Yes, you really can 'drink' your way to better health (but not in the alcoholic sense). It's a myth – just so you know – that the human body can survive on Guinness and tomatoes. Effervescents – a powdered bundle of vitamin(s) that you can drop into a glass of water, watch emulsify and drink – are easily added to any meal time and a great alternative if you don't like swallowing pills.
Aside from a healthy balanced diet, which we'd always advise as your first step towards topping up on nutrients, taking supplements doesn't have to be a chore. Chewable vitamins or gummies are not only great for kids but a tasty alternative to supplements that you could have on your desk at work for easy access. Oral sprays are also a great way to get the vitamins you need without having to swallow pills.
Transdermal application refers to the administration of ingredients through the skin. Magnesium bath flakes are a perfect example of this delivery method as being an alternative or additional measure for the intake of minerals.
The term 'topical' refers to the application of something to a specific place on the body. Topical gels, similarly to transdermal application, are usually administered directly on to the surface of the skin. For example, glucosamine gel, which is applied to the skin over a painful joint when required.
Do make sure to stay always stay within the upper safe level of any vitamin or mineral.