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  • Writer's pictureby Karen Pike

To supplement or not supplement?...that is the question!

As a nutritionist, one thing I get asked a lot by friends and clients is whether they should be taking supplements or not. The supplement market is massive and frankly very confusing to navigate, even if you have a degree in nutrition!

I would love my answer to this to be no and that if you are eating a well-balanced nutritiously dense diet, then you SHOULD be able to get all the nutrients you need - however it is not as simple as this.

We now live in a heavily polluted world, whereby the nutritional makeup of our food has been depleted by changes to our soil, pesticides and chemicals in the air and water. We are also living in a fast-paced and often stressful way, where our fight and flight responses are switched on way more often than they should be – which depletes certain nutrients in our body that are constantly having to make substances like cortisol or repair cellular damage. We live in an age where medications such as antibiotics have wreaked havoc on our microbiomes and gut health – and many clients who come to see me are suffering the consequences of gut dysbiosis (where there is an imbalance of good versus bad gut bacteria) which can be at the root cause of many illnesses and symptoms. We may need additional nutritional support when we are exposed to viruses and bacteria and our immune systems are put under extra pressure, or with the different stages of life as when we age, our bodily functions become suboptimal and we struggle to absorb nutrients from our food.

Thankfully, we now have access to amazing testing tools such as nutrigenomic tests – which tell us specifically which wonky genes we have (or genetic SNPs) and which nutrients our bodies are likely to need more of. When these are undertaken alongside fully comprehensive stool tests – which give us in depth information about the state of our microbiomes and the health of our gut lining – we are given an insight into which supplements we really need to optimise our health.

Having undertaken both of these test on myself, I discovered that I have genetic SNPs relating to the conversion of Vitamin B12, Vitamin A and Vitamin D and that I also have damage to my gut lining and dysbiosis (which I never would have guessed!) so for me, I have a clear picture of the supplements that my body needs to target these deficiencies to hopefully keep me healthy in the long term. When you have damage to your body or to your cells, then you may not be able to get enough nutritional support from a healthy diet alone as your body needs higher levels of nutrients to repair the damage and then function properly again.

Testing can be expensive so if you are restricted on budget, then a high-quality targeted multivitamin might be a good solution for you (I like brands such as Wild Nutrition and Biocare) however I would definitely avoid high street shops as they use poor quality ingredients that are not always bio-available and come with a plethora of additives. And everyone in the UK should definitely be taking Vitamin D during the winter months….


If you would like to undertake similar testing to find out where your body needs nutritional support, why not book a consultation and I can arrange testing and put together a truly personalised diet and supplement plan based on your results.


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