Health

The supplements experts say we should actually be taking this winter

As winter officially arrives and we reach for those little bottles to boost our immunity, we ask the experts: are supplements really necessary? Or are we handing over our hard-earned cash for the privilege of generating brightly coloured pee? 

“In theory, we should be getting everything we need from eating a healthy varied ‘real food’ diet,” says Dr Clare Bailey, author of The Fast 800 Recipe Book, “but this  is difficult for many of us to achieve.”  

Even those eating a healthy diet might be surprised to know they’re at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Dr Clare says women over 50 are at higher risk of a B6, B12 and calcium deficiency, while vegetarians, vegans and anyone reducing their meat or dairy intake could be low in iron or B12. 

“We’re always in a rush to put things in a bottle when something’s identified as having benefit, but we should be in a rush to eat more of those foods so that you get the other nutrients they come with,” explains Professor Clare. “You can get by without those phytonutrients, but, if your body was a car, it would be like missing a spark plug.  It will run, but it won’t purr.” 

If we need topping up stores, we asked the experts: What supplements should I take in winter, and why?

The best supplements to support your health in winter

01

Mister Jones Health Daily Beauty Greens

$64.43 at Mister Jones

Ideally, we’d all be eating big leafy salads every day during the winter months, but sometimes that isn’t practical (or cost-effective). Ensure you’re getting all the essential vitamins and minerals to keep well this winter by supplementing with a high-quality greens powder, which will help support your immune system fire on all cylinders.

This daily greens supplement from Mister Jones is bursting with a vibrant array of nutrient-rich superfoods including spirulina, chlorella, and kale, this potent formula is a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals essential for radiant skin, strong hair, and overall vitality. Plus, it actually tastes good. Win.

Key features:

  • Available in 15 and 30-serve sizes
  • Vegan
  • Flavour of supergreens, lemon and ginger

02

The Vitamin Shoppe Vitamin C

$19.94 from iHerb

While there is debate over whether vitamin C can help reduce symptoms of the common cold, a daily dose is vital for general health. “Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant, helping protect from heart disease, cancer and stroke, and supporting the immune system,” says Dr Clare. “Most people are deficient, but the best way to up your levels is through food. There is strong evidence that taking a Vitamin C supplement containing up to 500mg daily is safe too.” 

If you’re looking for a supplement to take alongside dipping into the fruit bowl, this one from The Vitamin Shoppe delivers a powerful dose of Vitamin C and can be taken daily to keep those stores topped up.

Key features:

  • Dairy, soy and nut-free
  • Offer immune support

03

Now Foods High Potency Vitamin D3

$12.16 from iHerb

“Despite the name vitamin, there is little vitamin D in most foods,” says Professor Rebecca Mason, a scientist with a particular interest in the study of vitamin C, calcium and phosphate. 

“The thing that vitamin D  is most important for is to help you absorb more of the calcium you eat. Vitamin D and calcium are particularly important to help keep bones and muscles strong. There’s also some evidence to suggest that adequate vitamin D  may help people fight infections more efficiently, and that it protects to  a small extent against inflammation and some autoimmune diseases.”  As we’re short on sunlight during the winter months, it can be helpful to supplement. This high-potency vitamin D from Now Foods only needs to be taken once daily.

Key features:

  • Helps Maintain Strong Bones
  • Supports Immune System
  • Non-GMO

04

Thorne Basic B Complex

$44.56 from iHerb

B-group vitamins are vital for ensuring the body’s cells function properly. “You need them for brain function and to release energy in your muscles,” says Professor Clare. “Essentially, they’re a box of matches to a bonfire.” B vitamins are essential for healthy skin and hair, and as they’re water-soluble, you need a daily dose. Researchers have also discovered that vitamin B12 (and folic acid) supplements may reverse fatty liver disease.  This option from Thorne only needs to be taken once daily, to get an extra hit of energy and mental clarity.

Key features:

  • Promotes cellular energy production
  • Supports an optimally functioning nervous system and healthy nerve cells
  • Promotes healthy red blood cell formation

05

Women’s Health Gut Pro

$54.60 from Vida Glow

“The health of your body is rooted in the health of your gut,” says Jackie. “We’re more bacteria than human!” She adds, “Feeling irritated, tired, forgetful and puffy is tied to gut health, as is weight gain, brain fog and hormonal,  sleep or skin imbalances.”  She recommends speaking to a professional to find the right strain and dose,  and to boost your intake of prebiotics, which feed the good bacteria. 

Vida Glow’s Gut Pro is a useful supplement for topping up your probiotic levels if your gut flora and vaginal PH is lacking. Packed with Lactobacilli (a bacterial species key in supporting intestinal flora), ginger and Gentiana lutea, it can help ease digestive discomfort.

Find our guide to more gut health supplements here.

Key features:

  • Formulated for women wanting a streamlined routine
  • can help relieve bloating and intimate health
  • Gut Pro is formulated to provide short-term and long-term benefits.

05

California Gold Nutrition Zinc Picolinate

$24.12 from iHerb

Dr Clare says there is some evidence that taking zinc can be beneficial in fighting a common cold. Zinc is found naturally in oysters, shellfish, nuts, dairy and legumes. California Gold Nutrition Zinc Picolinate contains a bioavailable form of zinc to help promote better absorption of this mineral and support overall immune health.

Key features:

  • Supports Immune Health
  • Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans 
  • Formulated without Gluten, GMOs, or Soy

05

Thrive Plant Protein

$44.90 (usually $53.90) from Elite Supplements

Dr Clare says protein is integral to a healthy lifestyle. “Protein aids weight loss, keeps you feeling full, maintains muscle and provides a steady release of energy. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, your body can’t store protein, which is why a daily intake is important.” She says vegetarians, vegans, the elderly and athletes may benefit from protein supplements if their diet is lacking. 

This plant protein from Elite Supplements comes in seven delish flavours, including banana split, caramel doughnut and chocolate swirl.

Key features:

  • Available in 500g and 1.2 kg bags
  • Contains psyllium husk and organic maca powder
  • Gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar free

Who should be taking supplements?

“A surprising number of people who are overweight or obese are also deficient in certain vitamins and essential minerals,” says Dr Clare. “A recent study tested the blood of 127 overweight or obese individuals with an average age of 49. They found most were deficient in vitamins D, A and E, folic acid, potassium, zinc, calcium and magnesium.”  

If you’re pregnant,  elderly, or suffer from a chronic condition that causes malabsorption, such as cystic fibrosis, coeliac disease or Crohn’s disease, you, too, are at higher risk of deficiencies, according to Professor Clare, because your body is probably not absorbing all the nutrients that you eat.  “There are also times when you have surgery or are undergoing intensive treatments that you may need to supplement,”  she explains. 


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