The supplement industry is classed as food, not medicine – so its regulation is questionable
Every week I am bombarded with supplements that promise to make me smarter, de-frazzle my Covid-wrought nerves, ward off lurgies, look after my gut and de-cellulite my bottom. But with so many to choose from, how does anyone know what to take? And what actually works?
The supplement industry is classed as food, not medicine, so questionable in its regulation – my 13-year-old could bring out a range and tell you it works. Bearing all this in mind, it’s important to know how to be a savvy supplement shopper. My first rule of thumb is to research your brand, making sure they adhere to the highest standards. It may sound obvious, but I would also recommend seeking out whether the founder has qualifications in nutrition or if they work with people that do.
Transparency is key, and one brand I trust is Wild Nutrition (wildnutrition.com) created by nutritional practitioner Henrietta Norton, who previously worked as a formulator for other brands. Wild Nutrition’s ingredients are ‘food grown’ (as opposed to synthetic) and they pick the highest quality natural ingredients, crush them into a paste without any unnecessary preservatives, colourants, fillers or binding agents, to create the most nutrient-dense vitamins possible.
Henrietta says that cheap, synthetic ingredients are often mixed with bulking agents. As a result, nutrition expert Karen Cummings-Palmer says that she encourages her clients to read the ingredients list: ‘Look out for additives like dicalcium phosphate, magnesium stearate, corn starch and lactose – they are at best cheap, at worst unhelpful.’
Price can be a good indicator of quality. However, this is not definitive and it’s important not to get baffled by ‘science’, marketing or fancy packaging. ‘There are many expensive products with poor quality ingredients and little product testing,’ says Henrietta.
Also, it’s important to check whether brands have researched the ‘bioavailability’ and ‘bioidentical’ qualities of their ingredients – which means how the ingredients are absorbed by our cells.
Another brand focusing on quality is Beauty Pie, which disrupted the beauty industry by bringing cutting-edge products to the masses without the mark-up. This month it’s launching a capsule collection (excuse the pun) of supplements, designed by nutritionist and associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine Kay Ali. Consisting of a collagen powder, a multivitamin and vitamin D – with a probiotic and a high dose of omega oil to come in January – she has ensured that no corners were cut in their creation.
For example, marine collagen has been used as she says there’s no evidence other collagens work, the strains of bacteria in the probiotic are specifically chosen for optimal efficacy and the vitamin D is in a capsule form as she says it can be unstable otherwise. The best bit? For Beauty Pie members they cost a fraction of the usual price. For example, The Perfect Daily Multivitamin is £11.87 instead of £50 (beautypie.com).
Finally, both Henrietta and Kay stress that when it comes to vitamins, ‘more does not mean better’. Don’t be lured in by claims of mega doses: ‘This is very much the case with synthetic nutrients as your body simply cannot absorb or retain the dose,’ says Henrietta, and your money can, quite literally, end up down the pan.
Therapy with a difference
The Soke (thesoke.uk) is a new kind of mental health and wellbeing clinic in Chelsea, London. Spread over five floors, the private centre combines reactive and preventative mental healthcare with top psychiatrists, psychotherapists and counsellors. Beautifully designed, it makes a refreshing break from the sometimes uninviting environments usually associated with therapy. Consultations from £250.
The trackie is back!
And it makes a welcome change to skin-tight leggings. The new-style tracksuit bottoms are also slim-fitting and more flattering. My favourites are Sweaty Betty’s Gary yoga trousers (£80, sweatybetty.com) for their super soft, sleek silhouette and Varley’s Alice sweatpants (below, £85, uk.varley.com) for pure chicness on and off the yoga mat.