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Navigating the Dietary Supplements Aisle

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I don’t think I’ve ever managed to visit Holland & Barratt without leaving with 5 times more stuff than I went in for. I’ll just pop in for some fruit and nut mix, and leave with half a years supply of vitamins, a bag of goji berries, some soya milk, a box of vegan cereal and half a tonne of licorice.

*I don’t even like licorice that much*

How do they do it?

It’s those pesky three for two offers. Or my arch nemesis offer – buy one, get one for a penny. A penny!! As my Grandmother would say, “you can’t not”.

So every time I come home with a well stocked supplements cabinet I have to ask myself; do I really need these Omega 3 pills? And could I live without the Acai berry juice? And when I’m done asking myself, (because I clearly don’t have the answers) I ask the Internet.

Ahh, trusty Google!

But just like Googling the symptoms of your very common cold and deciding it must by the Ebola virus; Googling your favourite dietary supplement can be just as horrifying. You’ll nearly always find half a dozen arguments for and against your choice of supplement, so how can you sift through the clever marketing and the scare tactics?

First off, it’s important to remember that dietary supplements in the EU are only allowed to display health and nutrition claims, but not drug claims. So they can claim to “reduce the risk of whateveritis”, but not prevent it. When I read this, I thought “great, so they can’t do any harm.”

My doctor doesn’t agree.

Before you start taking any additional supplements you should always check with your Doctor first. Every time I do this he always tells me that if I’m eating properly and taking a multivitamin, I should be fine. And if I have any specific health concerns, he’ll point me in the right direction.

But the rest of my Holland & Barrett haul is fine… the soya milk and vegan granola mix can stay!

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