I am not a qualified medical professional and it is beyond my scope of practice to offer advice or prescribe any supplements or foods based on medical issues.

If you have any symptoms which indicate illness or something you think may be a deficiency I recommend you see your GP. The only sure way to know if you are deficient is through a blood test.

The supplement recommendations given should not replace a well balanced, varied diet. Tablets cannot replace the benefits of a whole food. Vitamins, minerals, fibre, phytonutrients, water...there are many other compounds that add to health as opposed to a vitamin in isolation.

Also note that sleep, hydration, stress, exercise and daily activity are all very important components that contribute to well-being, and looking after all of this as a cluster is what I try and nudge you toward.

You will remember from the pyramid of fat loss and it's biggest drivers that supplements were the last component with the smallest impact. The supplements here are to support health and won't necessarily help with losing weight.

They are aimed at plugging any small holes that may be left.

GENERAL HEALTH.

MULTI-VITAMIN.


Why to take it.

A multi-vitamin taken daily may fill any small gaps which might be left by a nutrient dense, varied diet.

Taking a multi-vitamin before looking at the big pieces like diet, sleep, exercise etc. is highly unlikely to provide any real benefit. You are just looking to hopefully protect against any deficiencies. I would always advise clients to get a blood test done every year, or if you suffer from lethargy/lack of energy.

Vitamins and minerals are preferably obtained from a nutrient dense, varied diet. Think fresh fruit and vegetables with a variety of colour, legumes, beans, dairy, fish, lean meat sources like chicken, some red meat. This should provide an adequate supply of nutrients.

What to take, when to take it, and what dose.

I have provided a link for male and female specific multi-vits. Don’t feel like they offer a huge advantage, if you just get a standard one that’s great.

Take daily, and follow the instructions on the label.

FEMALE SPECIFIC MULTI-VITAMIN.


Why to take it.

Female specific multi-vitamins will have higher levels of folic acid and certain other vitamins which play a role in women's health specifically. 

Here's a short piece on folic acid which will highlight it's importance.

What to take, when to take it, and what dose.

Take daily, and follow the instructions on the label.

OMEGA 3 FISH OIL.


Why to take it.

Fats are an essential nutrient, we need them for health. Essential fatty acids are a type of fat that we MUST obtain from our diet because of their unique makeup. They cannot be synthesised from within our body so you can see some nutrients HAVE to be obtained from food.

The omega 3 fatty acids come from marine sources, so unless you're eating this type of food regularly there's a missing nutrient link in your habitual diet.

Fish oils have been shown to provide cardiovascular benefits (good for heart health), to help reduce inflammation in the body, they play an important role in brain function and have links to an overall lower risk of sudden death.

They possibly help with strength gains and fat loss and can also help with recovery from training.

I would always encourage clients to have some kind of oily fish in their diet (1-2 servings per week of mackerel, salmon, sardines etc.) as the whole food provides more benefit than a supplement, however if you know you don't hit this serving then supplmentation will probably be a good choice.

There are vegetarian options available in the form of algae.

What to take, when to take it, and what dose.

300-1800mg depending on the goal and your intake of fish. You will need to look at the serving size and add together the total of EPA and DHA.


VITAMIN D.


Why to take it.

Before I list the many benefits it’s important to note that only small amounts can be obtained through your diet and that is why supplementation is so important here. To get the minimum recommended daily dose listed at the end you would need to consume 6 litres of milk, or 143 large eggs.

The main mechanism for vitamin D intake is through exposure to direct sunlight, so living in Ireland (winter months) and modern day living (office jobs etc.) is not conducive to reaching the amount we need. It is estimated that over 50% of the population are deficient in vitamin D negatively impacting a range of health markers.

The benefits of supplementation are numerous;

Improves immune system function (Prietl et al 2013).

Improves bone health via calcium absorption (Hill et all 2013).

Deficiency is associated with development of heart disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and auto-immune disorders (Holick 2007).

Reduces depressive symptom (Shaffer et al 2014).

Potentially improves strength (Tomlinson et al 2015).

Potentially improves fat loss (Ortega et al 2008).

What to take, when to take it, and what dose.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin so taking it with a meal containing fat will help absorption.

The recommended dosage falls between 2,500 and 4,000 IU per day. I would recommend to get a blood test done (you may run in to difficulty getting it approved by a lab unless you have symptoms of low levels) and supplement accordingly.

The units used on labels can be different, here is a conversion chart to help figure out the dosage.

To convert Vitamin D:
From IU to mcg: IU/40 = mcg
For example: 400 IU/40 = 10 mcg
From mcg to IU: mcg * 40 =IU

PROBIOTICS.


Why to take it.

Probiotics are still something we do not know a lot about – which strains are best? Do they actually survive and enter the gut? Are there any long term health benefits if someone has a great lifestyle habit cluster?

There are a couple of scenarios where probiotics are recommended – traveling athletes/going on holiday, and post-antibiotic.

The idea with traveling is to help prevent stomach upset and support the immune system, and with post antibiotic it can potentially help with recolonizing ‘good’ bacteria which has been killed off.

What to take, when to take it, and what dose.

Travelling – 7-10 days before, during the time away, and 7-10 days afterwards with dose according to the instructions.

Post-antibiotic – 7-14 days after finishing the prescription of antibiotics with dose according to instructions.

My preferred choice is the Bio-Kult pictured.

CONCLUSION.

Supplements for health cannot replace a varied, nutrient dense diet. In the case of fish oil and vitamin D you can see that because of dietary choices/limitations (don't like fish) and where we live there may be a very reasonable argument for supplementation.

Get your diet, sleep and other lifestyle factors right then look to supplements if they are affordable.

The pictures I have used are from myprotein.ie. I find their prices, delivery and quality suitable at the time of writing.

Any health issue needs to be dealt with by a medical professional.