Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to take supplements?
If you are eating a varied, nutrient-dense diet from organic whole foods (brown
rice, wholemeal bread, fruits, vegetables, salads, oats, beans and pulses),
protein (fish, meat, eggs) with small amounts of essential fats from
unprocessed oils, nuts and seeds, then you are probably okay. However, recent
studies show that most people do not consume an optimal
amount of all vitamins by diet alone and that it would seem prudent for all
adults to take vitamin supplements.
What is generally not appreciated, is that the current recommended daily
allowances do not provide for
amounts of nutrients, but are the minimum amounts required to prevent
nutritional disorders such as scurvy, rickets and pellegra - a vitamin B3
deficiency producing symptoms of depression and mania.
The recommendations have been designed to meet the needs of a healthy
population and do not
cater for individual needs, biochemical variations, or the common disorders
seen in Western society today.
If your diet is not up to scratch, you would benefit at least from a good
quality multivitamin and mineral each day.
You may also need additional support depending on your circumstances, e.g. if
you are highly stressed, menopausal, exposed to high
levels of pollution or workplace chemicals - there are many times in life when
extra demands are made on the body and we need to respond accordingly.
Consult a qualified nutritional therapist who can identify your individual
needs and devise appropriate dietary measures for your circumstances.
Can I get enough calcium without drinking milk?
Most people associate milk and dairy products with calcium and are worried that
avoiding these foods will lead to a calcium deficiency. However, many
populations consume no milk or dairy, yet they experience much lower incidences
of calcium related disorders such as osteoporosis.
Although milk is a good source of calcium, it does not provide a balance of
other minerals such as manganese, chromium, selenium and magnesium. Since
magnesium works alongside calcium in the body, it is important to get
sufficient amounts of this mineral too. Unfortunately, most modern diets are
deficient in magnesium and we see evidence of this in PMS sufferers and those
with low energy levels. Relying on milk and dairy products for calcium is
likely to cause further magnesium depletion and an imbalance between calcium
A more balanced source of calcium comes from green, leafy vegetables such as
kale, cabbage, broccoli, nuts (e.g. almonds) and seeds (e.g. sesame). Other
high calcium foods include small bony fish such as whitebait and sardines,
tofu, beans and chickpeas.
It is not necessary for adults to consume dairy foods
they are following advice on healthy eating and consuming a diet high in
vegetables, nuts and whole grain foods. When the diet is not healthy, a
calcium supplement should be considered and this is better absorbed in the form
of citrate or gluconate, rather than carbonate. Consult a nutritional
therapist or health shop for good brands.
We are told to eat 5 portions of fruits and vegetables daily - but how much is
Firstly, the five portions mean both fruits and vegetables, it is not five of
each. That having been said, ten portions a day is even better, especially for
those at risk of heart or bowel disease, and this amount can be easily reached
when including salads, soups and stir-fries in the diet.
A portion of fruit is a whole single fruit, such as a medium-sized apple, an
orange or two small plums. A handful of berries or half a tablespoon of dried
fruit such as raisins also constitutes one portion. One fruit portion may be
consumed as fruit juice, but the remainder should be consumed as whole fruit,
its fibre intact (this valuable constituent is left behind in the juicing
A portion of vegetables is three tablespoons of large veg. such as broccoli,
cauliflower, carrots, or two tablespoons of smaller vegetables such as peas or
broad beans. Do not include potatoes in the daily total though - they are a
starchy food and do not count.
Here are some simple ways to increase your daily intake:
Include fresh or dried fruits at breakfast, e.g. banana on cereal, raisins in
porridge, fruit smoothies
(can easily get three portions in a single smoothie)
Prepare stir-fried vegetables several times a week
Start your main meal with a small salad or accompany it with a side salad
Have snacks of raw carrot sticks, celery, peppers or fruit
Eat more vegetable soups and stews
Add extra toppings of vegetables to shop-bought pizzas
Add fresh fruits to yoghurts, fromage frais or ice-cream