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  How important are other supplements ?  

As well as vitamins and minerals, there are many other nutrients our bodies need to function at their best. Here are some of the types that are available as supplements.

How to take supplements Amino acids Bioflavonoids
Co-enzyme Q10 Digestive enzymes Probiotics
Lecithin Essential fatty acids Pycnogenol
Glucosamine and chrondroitin
How to take supplements

To ensure the supplements are well absorbed and not just flushed straight through the body, the follow these tips:

Take supplements at room temperature with cool water. Hot drinks can destroy nutrients; iced drinks slow absorption.
 Don't drink tea or coffee within 15 minutes of taking a supplement as they can interfere with nutrient absorption.

Take the supplement with or without food according to the following guide:  

 With food Without food With or without food
 Fat-soluble nutrients (including vitamins A, D and E, all essential fatty acids and co-enzyme Q10): if your dosage involves more than one capsule/tablet a day, split the dose and take one dose with breakfast and one with lunch or an evening meal. Probiotics (such as acidophillus and bifidus bacteria): take first thing in the morning and/or last thing at night with, or in, tepid water. Herbs: may be best taken with or without food depending on the type. Consult your herbalist.
  Amino acids: take 30 minutes before or after food. Minerals: the majority are best taken with food but some, such as zinc, are best taken on an empty stomach and last thing at night.

Amino acids

Uses in the body
amino acids are the building blocks that make up protein; the types and order in which they occur are different for each protein. Vitamins and minerals can't perform their specific functions effectively if the necessary amino acids aren't present.
there are more than 20 amino acids and they're classified as either essential or non-essential. The latter can be manufactured in our body, but the former must be obtained from food. Essential amino acids include cystine, histidine, lysine, leucine and isoleucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Their protein food sources include soya beans, peas, beans, grains, dairy products, poultry, fish and eggs. Non-essential amino acids include aspartic acid, alanine, glutamic acid, glycine, serine and tyrosine; they're synthesised in the body and obtained from food.
Normal dosage individual amino acids can be taken in supplement form, but you should always seek professional advice as taking one as a supplement may affect the overall balance of the others and how they work together in the body.


Uses in the body
assist with the uptake and use of vitamin C in the body and help to maintain the integrity of the walls of blood vessels. Some are also potent antioxidants.
this group of organic pigments (originally referred to as vitamin P) occur naturally in plants. They include anthocyanidins, rutin, quercetin, hesperidin, myricetin, nobiletin, proanthocyanidins, tangeritin, sinensetin, eriodictyol, kaempferol and heptamethoxy flavone. Dietary sources include citrus fruits (lemons contain the complete complex), green peppers, rose hips, buckwheat (a particularly good source of rutin, which helps combat high blood pressure and bruising), broccoli, tomatoes, nettles, cherries, grapes and berries.
Therapeutic uses
supplementation may be useful for people with varicose veins, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, haemorrhoids, bruising, menstrual problems, cold sores or anaemia (since they also aid iron absorption), or those who wish to maintain healthy blood vessels.
Normal Dosage normally taken as a bioflavinoid complex together with vitamin C. Typical ratio is around 500mg vitamin C to 200mg bioflavonoids, taken once or twice daily with food.
none known at recommended dose.
if you go for surgery, notify your doctor if you're taking bioflavonoids as their presence can interfere with some medical tests.

Co-enzyme Q10

Uses in the body
co-enzyme Q10, or ubiquinone (meaning 'everywhere'), is a vitamin-like substance that exists in cells and is essential for the health of all the tissues and organs of the body. It plays an important role in metabolism, helping to release energy from food, and in the release of physical energy.
it's found in some foods, but is difficult to extract, and is also made in the body.
Therapeutic uses
supplementation is often recommended to people who are obese, lacking in energy or on cholesterol-lowering medication. Research has shown that these people all have lower than normal levels of CoQ10 in their tissue cells.
Normal dosage
10mg to 100mg a day, taken with food.
Contraindications not to be taken by pregnant women or while breastfeeding.

Digestive enzymes

Uses in the body
there are more than 20 digestive enzymes, which are broken down into three types: those digesting proteins, those digesting fats and those digesting carbohydrates.

enzymes occur naturally in raw and 'living' foods, but are destroyed in the cooking process. >
Therapeutic uses
normally, enough enzymes are produced in the body to digest all the foods we eat. However, smokers, those with a high intake of alcohol, the elderly and the chronically sick all produce fewer enzymes which, over time, impairs the digestive process. In such cases, an enzyme supplement may be helpful.
Nomal Dosage
generally, supplements are used that combine various different types of enzymes. These are taken before each meal for a period of time. It's best to have a practitioner monitor their use and advise on what adjustments may be necessary.
Contraindications none known at recommended usage.

Essential fatty acids

Uses in the body
vital in metabolism, formation of cell walls and tissue repair. They play an important role in maintaining the health of the heart, liver and brain. A deficiency of EFAs can result in dry skin, allergies, skin conditions such as psoriasis, PMS, menopause, and poor hair and nails.

since the body can't manufacture EFAs, they must come from the diet. There are two types:

Omega-3 - derived from linolenic acid and found in flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil, soya beans, walnuts, cod liver oil, herring, sardines and mackerel. The body needs about 2g a day.
Omega-6 - derived from linoleic and archidonic acids and sourced from olive, sunflower, corn, evening primrose and starflower (borage) oils. The body needs 4g a day.
Normal Dosage
the best way to take EFAs is in a combined supplement or bottled oil that has omega-3 and omega-6 in the correct ratio. Some fish oil supplements have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals and other substances; organic plant oils, which are even richer in EFAs than fish oils, are a good alternative. These oils must be kept cool and can't be heated for cooking. They're best taken drizzled over salad or pasta, mixed in juice or taken as capsules.
none known at recommended dosage. However, evening primrose oil should be avoided by epileptics or those taking drugs for schizophrenia.

Glucosamine and chrondroitin

Uses in the body
provide the essential elements your body needs to maintain healthy joints and connective tissue. Chrondroitin sulphate is a major constituent of cartilage, providing the structure, and glucosamine sulphate provides the joints with the necessary elements to repair damage caused by osteoarthritis or injuries. One attracts nutrients and the natural fluids needed to act as a shock absorber for the joints; the other holds these in place.
glucosamine and chondroitin are produced naturally in our bodies but a supplement can be beneficial after injury to prevent further damage and maintain the health of the joints.

Normal Dosage
generally, a high dose - eg, 600mg of glucosamine sulphate three times a day - is taken for the first 14 days and thereafter reduced to a maintenance dose (600mg) once or twice a day.
none known at recommended dose. However, if you're pregnant, a nursing mother or diabetic, consult your GP before taking these supplements. In diabetes, glucosamine may increase blood sugar levels.


Uses in the body
lecithin is the common name for a collection of compounds of which the most important is phosphatidyl choline, which converts to choline in the body. Choline is an essential nutrient vital in the transmission of nerve impulses and for the health of the liver and kidneys. Lecithin facilitates the movement of fats in and out of cells, ensuring they get broken down rather than accumulating in the body.
Therapautic use
choline deficiency is rare, as it's not generally in short supply in the body. However, supplementation has been found helpful in treating high cholesterol, gall stones, problems with fat metabolism, impaired nerve and brain function and certain neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's chorea.
Normal Dosage
1,000mg to 4,000mg a day with food or one to two level tablespoons of lecithin granules sprinkled on cereal or stirred into soups or sauces as a thickener.
none known at recommended usage.


Uses in the body
a probiotic is a supplement containing live, beneficial bacteria essential to healthy gut function. There are times when the body's stores of these healthy bacteria become depleted (when we take antibiotics, follow a diet high in refined sugars or suffer long-term illness, for example) and it's then a good idea to repopulate the gut with probiotics to restore a healthy balance. Scientists believe a decreased level of probiotics in the gut may make it more vulnerable to bowel cancer and osteoporosis.
Therapeutic uses
probiotics are thought to be helpful in the treatment of candida, bloating, asthma, eczema and allergies.
probiotics such as lactobacillus acidophillus or bifidobacterium are found in live yoghurts. However, probiotic supplements contain far higher levels of these beneficial bacteria.
Normal Dosage taken as capsules or powder first thing in the morning and last thing at night with tepid water only for best absorption.
can cause loose stools and flatulence. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease or rheumatoid arthritis, consult your GP before taking probiotics.

Uses in the body
pycnogenol is a herbal extract obtained primarily from pine bark. One of its main ingredients is proanthocyanidin, which has a similar structure to bioflavonoids and is a powerful antioxidant. As such it helps to mop up harmful free radicals in the body. It's an immune-system booster and helps to strengthen blood vessel walls and capillaries. It has an especially beneficial effect on lung tissue.
Therapeutic uses
recommended for people with respiratory problems, such as asthma and bronchitis, poor circulation, menstrual cramps, haemorrhoids and hypertension. As it also protects collagen, it can be used to hinder the onset of wrinkles and maintain skin elasticity.
Normal Dosage 20mg to 40mg a day, taken with food.
not to be taken by pregnant women or children.

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