How to choose the best supplement?

It might be the cold weather, the lack of light or the extra food and drinks consumed during this festive season that has left you a bit deflated and in search of the “magical” supplement to give you an energy and health boost.


With so much information on the media about the newest supplement for either energy boost, radiant skin or improved immunity, the temptation might be to buy them all! But what is really the best supplement, and how to choose it?

Choosing the right supplement

First of all, there is no such thing as a “miracle” supplement; A capsule or a tablet won’t suddenly make your hair shinier, prevent you from catching a cold or make you lose unwanted weight. A balanced and personalised diet that addresses the root cause of such symptoms can help manage them, not just popping a pill without changing damaging habits first.

When choosing a supplement, make sure it is from a reputable and established company compliant with Food Standards Agency (FSA) and MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) requirements. Refrain from supplements bought online from unlicensed websites or shipped from overseas as they might not be regulated. A good idea is to visit a local health store or pharmacy and ask the staff for advice or, even better, ask a nutritional practitioner/nutritionist what the best supplement for you is.

Not all supplement brands are equal in terms of quality and efficacy. The way certain ingredients are processed affects their quality, and often cheaper processing extraction methods may reduce the product's viability. This is often reflected in the price, as better quality supplements with purer ingredients, fewer excipients and higher concentrations of vitamins/minerals/antioxidants can be more expensive than others.

Usually, supplements in tablet form tend to have more excipients and be cheaper to be produced than capsules or liposomal forms, but it also depends on the specific ingredient.

As a nutritionist, I have a conservative approach to supplementation; I believe it is needed in case of confirmed deficiency or insufficiency or to kick-start some body pathways that are not working optimally. In my practice, I see many patients over-supplementing when not needed without considering interactions between supplements themselves – this could do more harm than good!

In healthy individuals, a varied and balanced diet should be enough to provide all the needed nutrients. Vitamins and antioxidants in whole foods work better than just one nutrient in isolation.

The only supplements I believe are needed are vitamin D during winter months (as also recommended by the NHS) and B12 if following a vegan diet.

There are two primary forms of vitamin D: D2 (from plant-based sources) and D3 (usually found in animal products). Vitamin D3 is the most bioavailable form of vitamin D, something to keep in mind when choosing your supplement!

B12 is found only in animal foods (meat, fish, eggs and dairy), so vegans should supplement this vitamin, which is needed for energy production, red blood cell formation and the use of folate. We do need 1.5mg of B12 daily, and if following a vegan diet is vital to supplement this quantity daily.

Please refer to a professional trained to fully understand the correct use and dosage of supplements and refrain from information found on media and advertisements, as supplementing without supervision can do more harm than good both to your health and wallet! 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, W1S 1HP
Written by Lucia Stansbie, Registered Nutritional Therapist, Dip CNM, mBANT, mCNHC
London, W1S 1HP

Lucia Stansbie, BANT registered Nutritional Therapist founder of Food Power Nutrition

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