Experts reveal 5 healthy supplements you probably don’t know about but totally should

Experts reveal 5 healthy supplements you probably don’t know about but totally should

There are plenty of healthy supplements out there, but you may not know about them all. Healthista quizzes the experts on the supplements we don’t know about but probably should

With so many healthy supplements to choose from, it’s often easier to just stick to the ones you recognise. Yet, for additional health benefits, why not try a few new ones?

Most of us know the benefits of common supplements such as Vitamin C and D3, also herbs such as milk thistle or dandelion. But, how well do you know your ubiquinol from your pycnogenol?

‘There are many healthy supplements you may not be familiar with that can support your health in different ways,’ says Rob Hobson, Nutrition Consultant at supplement brand Healthspan.

‘Just as you wouldn’t eat the same food all the time, it’s similar with supplements. We all need more vitamin D3 in winter, for example, when there is less sunlight.

how well do you know your ubiquinol from your pycnogenol?

‘And, a calming herbal supplement can be helpful if you’re stressed. So, taking the time to experiment with new healthy supplements can be very beneficial for your health.’

‘As with all medicines whether pharmaceutical or herbal, patients should always seek the advice of a healthcare practitioner, if they are taking other medicines,’ says Dr Chris Etheridge, Chair of the British Herbal Medicine Association.

‘This is clearly stated within the in-pack leaflet (known as the THR leaflet) which is contained in all over-the-counter THR herbal medicines.

‘The THR leaflet also gives reliable information on any known drug interactions and side-effects. If you are unsure visit the bhma.org for further information.’

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Experts reveal 5 healthy supplements you probably don’t know about but totally should

Here’s a guide to some useful, new healthy supplements to try according to the experts…

Supplement #1 Ubiquinol

Cardiologists love Ubiquinol for heart health and energy. 

What is it?

‘Ubiquinol is the active form of coenzyme Q10, which is an antioxidant compound produced naturally by the body,’ says Rob.

‘Coenzyme Q10 is used for energy production by every cell and is vital for good health. It is found in high concentration in the heart, liver, kidney and muscles.

‘Ubiquinol is a more readily bioavailable form of Coenzyme Q10. Levels peak around 20 years old and then start to fall as we age.’

What’s the science?

‘Research shows that ubiquinol may help to improve heart function, muscle strength and blood flow,’ reveals Rob.

‘A recent review (Heart, Lung and Circulation, 2020) showed that the supplement may be of benefit for people with heart failure.

‘In another study (Journal of Urology, 2013), that involved male infertility, it was found that taking 200mg ubiquinol daily for 24 weeks, increased sperm counts (on average) by 81% and sperm motility by 31%.

‘Taking a daily dose of ubiquinol (100 – 150mg) can also help to alleviate mild fatigue (Nutrients, 2020).’

Why you need it?

‘Take ubiquinol if want to support your heart health,’ advises Rob.

‘Or, if you’re always tired and looking to improve your energy levels. Studies also suggest that ubiquinol can be beneficial if you’re taking statins (which deplete levels of Coenzyme Q10).’

Try: Healthspan Max, £30.56 for 60 capsules – www.healthpan.co.uk. Also available to buy on Amazon.

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Supplement #2 Pycnogenol

To keep blood vessels, blood pressure, joints and cholesterol health.

What is is?

Pycnogenol is a natural plant extract from the French maritime pine bark and packs a powerful punch.

‘It contains a unique blend of antioxidants (including bioflavonoids and polyphenols),’ says Rob.

‘It has an antioxidant action that is 50 times more powerful than vitamin E and 20 times more powerful than vitamin C. It regulates the production of nitric acid in the body which acts as a vasodilator, opening up blood vessels to improve blood flow.

‘It can also help to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and protect against hardening of the arteries, and helps to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.’

What’s the science?

Studies show that pycnogenol can lower blood pressure, protect against atherosclerosis and strengthen fragile capillaries. In one Italian study (2018) it was shown that 200mg pycnogenol daily helped to reduce the incidence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

In another study (Thrombosis Research) it was found that 125mg of pycnogenol daily helped to reduce abnormal blood clotting, even in smokers, and was just as effective (minus the side effects) as 500mg aspirin.

Taking pycnogenol can also help to reduce hair loss in menopausal women according to the results of a six month clinical trial held in Shanghai (Health Science Report 2018).

Why you need it?

‘Consider taking this supplement if you want to protect your cardiovascular health, suffer from restless legs syndrome or have varicose veins,’ says Rob.

‘Taking 50mg, three times a day, starting two days before a flight, can reduce your risk of DVT, leg swelling and jet lag.’

Try: Healthspan Pycnogenol, £16.95 for 60 (30mg) tablets – www.healthspan.co.uk. Also available to buy on Amazon.

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amino acids for fatigue

Supplement #3 Aminoscience Essential 9

The essential 9 nutrients for all round good health

What is it?

This is a combination of nine essential amino acids (EAA).

‘Amino acids are molecules that combine to form protein,’ explains Dr Nisa Aslam, NHS GP.

‘While the body makes hundreds of amino acids, there are nine essential ones that the body can’t make – histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

‘These are essential for so many elements of health, including: supporting hormone and brain health, contributing to a healthy immune system, energy metabolism, growth and repair of body tissue.’

What’s the science?

A new report (by Aminoscience, 2022) shows that two thirds of people do not how amino acids support health.

‘Deficiency in amino acids can result in health problems including digestive issues, fatigue, anaemia, insomnia, hormonal problems, hair loss, low mood and liver dysfunction,’ says Nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton.

In a recent study (Nutrients, 2021) it was found that deficiencies in isoleucine, leucine and histadine may lead to depression in older women.

In another study (Journal of Nutrition, Health & Ageing, 2019) it was found that when elderly participants took EAAs for 12 weeks, this had a positive effect on muscle mass, muscle strength and muscle power.

Why do you need it?

‘Your body can’t make essential amino acids, so you need to get these from food or supplements,’ says Dr Ruxton Lead Consultant and Registered Dietitian.

‘Deficiencies can lead to health problems. You need histidine, for example, for growth, the creation of blood cells and tissue repair. Deficiency increases the risk of anaemia, atopic eczema and arthritis.

‘Leucine is needed to help regulate blood sugar levels, and for growth and repair of muscle and bone. If you’re low in leucine, this can cause hair loss, fatigue and skin rashes.

‘A deficiency in isoleucine, can lead to symptoms similar to those of hypoglycaemia (chronically low blood sugar), including muscle loss, twitching and tremors.’

Try: Aminoscience Essential 9, £25 for 42 capsules. This supplement combines the 9 essential amino you need – available to buy on Amazon.

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healthy supplements for performance

Supplement #4 Curranz

The sporting secret weapon to boost physical performance.

What is it?

‘This is a sports supplement made from New Zealand blackcurrant extracts which contain the highest amount (1.5 times) of anthocyanins grown anywhere else in the world,’ says Nutritionist Rob Hobson.

‘Anthocyanins are a group of bioactive antioxidant pigments found in red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables. They protect the cells against damage by free radicals (rogue molecules), supporting heart health, blood circulation and immunity.’

What’s the science?

The health benefits of CurraNZ, or New Zealand blackcurrant extracts, are backed by over 30 clinical studies.

‘If you exercise at high intensity for prolonged periods, this creates free radicals that can damage cells and slow down recovery,’ says Rob.

‘The antioxidants in CurraNZ can have a protective effect. A meta-analysis (published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition) that looked at 16 studies shows that the anthocyanins in NZ blackcurrant extract may enhance sports performance, by boosting blood flow, immunity and protecting against free radical damage.’

Why you need it?

CurraNZ is the supplement used by players in the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team.

‘But, you don’t have to be a professional sports player to benefit,’ says Rob.

‘If you exercise vigorously on a regular basis, take one to three capsules daily, ideally two hours before exercise, to enhance performance and protect your body from oxidative stress.’

Try: Healthspan Elite CurraNZ, £24.99 for 30 (300mg) capsules. Available to buy on Amazon.

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HEALTHY SUPPLEMENTS FOR INSOMNIA

Supplement #5 Passiflora

To support your nervous system, ease anxiety and alleviate insomnia.

What is it?

Passion lower (passiflora incarnata) is a climbing vine that originates from southeastern US, Central and South America.

This herbal remedy has a natural sedative, soothing, calming effect and has traditionally been used to treat anxiety, sleep problems and stress.

What’s the science?

‘Passiflora works by boosting the levels of gamma-aminobutric acid (GABA) in the brain,’ says Ali Cullen, Nutritional Practitioner at A. Vogel.

‘The compound lowers stressful brain activity, which may help with relaxation and aid sleep.’

A recent review (Nutrients, 2020) that looked at nine studies, has shown that passiflora may help to reduce stress, insomnia, anxiety and depression.

Why you need it?

‘If you’re experiencing stress, anxiety or sleep problems, passiflora can be taken either short or long-term to help calm the nervous system and alleviate symptoms,’ says Ali.

Try: A.Vogel Passiflora Complex Tablets, £12.99 for 30 tablets, and from selected pharmacies and health food stores. Also available to buy on Amazon.

Also, available as a calming spray: A. Vogel Passiflora Complex Spray, £12.99 for 30ml. Available to buy on Amazon.

Contains extracts of fresh passiflora herb, valerian root, lemon balm, magnesium and zinc.

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