WHICH SUPPLEMENTS SHOULD YOU BE TAKING?
IF YOU'RE VEGAN
B12 is the biggest recommendation for a plant based diet - but why? B12 is used to produce red blood cells which carry oxygen to your organs. If your cells do not have oxygen you will be seriously fatigued. Low oxygen levels in cells can also lead to nerve damage and weakened muscles. Other side effects of B12 deficiency can include dizzy spells, memory loss and could even contribute to mood changes, anxiety and depression. So to add to your plant power, get down to Holland and Barrett where you can pick up a B12 supplement for £6.99.
IF YOU'RE DAIRY FREE
A couple of years ago I decided to stop drinking cows milk completely, and only eating cheese and chocolate very occasionally. My reasons for doing this were a mixture of trying to prevent skin breakouts and the hormones found in mass produced cows milk I just didn't want in my system. To ensure I get the calcium I need, I eat lots of green leafy vegetables, soya beans and nut milks with added calcium, tofu, nuts and sesame seeds. To find out more about the risks of eating dairy - see my post 'The Dairy Debate'.
IF YOU'RE PREGNANT
The NHS and the Department of Health recommend that pregnant women take supplements including Folic acid which can help prevent birth defects, vitamin D to help keep bones, muscles and teeth healthy, and Iron as you may find yourself more tired which could lead to anaemia. A lot of these can be consumed through their presence in food, and other vitamins are recommended such as vitamin C and Calcium.
IF YOU'RE ON YOUR PERIOD
Women are often recommended to ensure they are getting a good intake of Iron during their menstrual cycle. This is because of the iron levels in your blood (which is lost through the course of your period) and then needs replacing. Vitamin C can also be needed as this helps to absorb the iron (wash down your broccoli with a glass of fresh orange juice if you must!) Studies have also shown that fish oil, magnesium and even turmeric can help with menstrual cramps due to their anti-inflammatory properties, although they can potentially increase bleeding therefore advice given is to consult your GP before taking these supplements.
IF YOU'RE WORKING OUT
Generally the main supplement used by your average gym-goer is protein. Protein is great for building and repairing tissues in the body - I only take plant based protein powders as whey protein can contain unwanted hormones which may lead to acne. However the forgotten essential for post-workout is glucose. To replace the energy you have used during that period of exercise, carbohydrates must be consumed which your body will then convert in to more glucose. After asking my best girlfriend (who is a high school P.E. teacher) what she advises - Jaffa Cakes were the winner for pre or post workout energy!
If you have a deficiency in something and would like to recommend any vitamins or supplements you are currently using - please let us know in the comments below!
Information via livestrong.com, nhs.co.uk, department of health, AQA GCSE 2016,