I love supplements and vitamins. I've been taking all sorts of extras and additives since I was old enough to have a job to pay for them. But of course, not everyone feels the same. As a teen, my dad always rolled his eyes as I swallowed my vitamin C tablets and carefully measured out my olive leaf tonic, telling me I wouldn't need to buy all these things if I just had a healthy diet. My partner feels the same, ignoring the bottle of mens multivitamins I put on his bedside. Even in the RUSSH office, the topic of vitamins and supplements is a source of debate - with half of us on team tablets and the other half preferring to abstain.
It's a big question, do we actually need all the supplements and vitamins recommended and advertised to us? As always, the answer isn't so clear cut. To find out more, we spoke with Jessica Sepel, a clinical nutritionist and the founder of JS Health. She explains why some people may choose to take supplements, and how to tell if you're getting the right dose.
This one causes a bit of debate amongst our office - are dietary supplements actually necessary?
This is an interesting question! It is technically recommended that vitamins and minerals can only be of assistance when dietary intake is inadequate. However the reality is that the modern lifestyle we live, with poor diet (processed foods), too much stress, unhealthy lifestyle choices (excessive alcohol and smoking), along with all-too-common gut issues, mean it can be harder to achieve and maintain these nutrient levels required for optimal health and wellbeing. When you think about it like this, you can understand why using high-quality, targeted supplements may be really beneficial for a lot of people to help them feel (and look) their best.
How can vitamins and supplements help us? Are there certain compounds we're not getting from our diets?
I see vitamins as a way to use nutrients as medicine through taking a therapeutic dose when symptoms arise, or based on an individual’s state of health and their wellness goals. I prescribe vitamins to my clients as part of a holistic lifestyle solution, based on the complaints they present with. For example, someone with fatigue could benefit from iron and B vitamins. If digestive issues are a concern, a research-backed probiotic, such as the JSHealth Probiotic+, is often a good step in supporting the gut.
These herbs, beneficial bacterias and nutrients are generally not consumed in therapeutic doses from our diets, which is why taking vitamins and supplements can help deliver a truly powerful and medicinal effect where food intake alone cannot.
How can someone tell if they need to be adding a supplement?
You’ve got to tune into your health and state of wellbeing. I really encourage people to listen to the signs and signals of their body. Additionally, doing a clinical assessment, which usually involves blood tests from a GP/nutritionist, is a great way to gather data that will help determine if and what supplements to add.
I do find there is a lot of confusion out there about supplements and people are often overwhelmed, not knowing what to take. That’s why I created the JSHealth Vitamins range of signature formulas to be solution-driven. This means that they target specific and common complaints and symptoms, such as low energy, stress, hormonal imbalances, poor sleep, hair loss and skin issues, making it easy for customers to find one that will best help them.
What are the most common reasons in your estimation, that people turn to supplements?
People often look to supplements for convenience, when symptoms arise and they want to solve a health complaint, or to generally experience benefits such as enhanced wellbeing or beauty.
How do you know if you're getting a therapeutic dose?
Not all vitamins are created equal! You need to learn to read labels and understand the therapeutic doses, as well the quality of ingredients. Having a trusted brand will make this easier. All JSHealth Vitamins use therapeutic doses to ensure an effective and powerful result.
What do you wish more people knew about supplements or health in general?
That vitamins and herbs are nature’s medicines! They can have a profound effect on the body when taken in therapeutic doses, backed by research, and made with pure and quality ingredients.
What do you believe is the key to holistic wellness?
It’s about taking a flexible, well-rounded approach to your wellbeing. Diet, stress management, vitamins, movement, and practising positive self talk and body love - they all matter. Sitting inside a healthy lifestyle, vitamins are just one incredible tool to feeling your absolute best.