Emma Nutrition

Simplifying the science through cooking and education. When I'm not on Mummy duties…


Should I take a multi vitamin and mineral supplement?

The million dollar nutritional question; should I be taking a supplement or are they a waste of money? In an ideal world we shouldn’t need to take additional nutrients; we should be able to get all of our nutrients from food and we would have no health issues to contend with. Getting nutrients from food is more difficult than we think. Firstly there is the issue of cultivation, then there is storage and lastly preparation.

Here’s a video I made on: Are Supplements Bad? For my Friends at BWN

Cultivation – what environment is the food grown in? Did you know that when a tomato is picked from the vine before it is a vibrant red colour it has less of the antioxidants, lycopene and beta carotene, of a vine-ripened tomato? Ever had a tomato that tasted like water and felt like powder in your mouth? How about a tomato that your grandmother grew and picked at its prime? Sweet and velvety right? Vine ripened tomatoes have higher levels of the super powerful antioxidants lycopene and beta carotene[1]. It isn’t just tomatoes that develop more nutrients on the vine or tree. The nutrient chemical pigments in a fruit or vegetable are also the same chemicals that give it colour. Low in colour = low in flavour = low in nutrients.

Storage – too dry, too cold, too moist, too warm, too long. Storage issues have a huge impact on food, as well as supplements.

Preparation – prepackaged food is always lower in nutritional value than fresh, cooking damages (to a certain extent) foods and as soon as we cut a vegetable or fruit it starts to oxidise.

Nutritional status is the foundation of wellness. It is what separates those in robust health to those who are at a sub optimal health. Therefore I conclude that a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement is the foundation to optimal nutritional status and therefore to wellness. In fact a scientific review on the topic from a team at Harvard University concluded that everyone should be taking a multivitamin. Suboptimal levels, above those causing classic deficiencies are a risk factor for chronic illness eg folic acid and vitamins B12 and B6 are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects and colon and breast cancers. It is very important to have a product of exceptional quality and efficacy.
How can I find an exceptional supplement?
Look for:
  • Evidence based formulations with clinically effective dosages ie they should have scientific references and be developed by practitioners/scientists
  • High levels of commonly deficient nutrients such as vitamin D, Zinc, Iodine and Selenium
  • Company should have standard formula for general use, as well as specific formulas for men, women, children and pregnancy
  • High strength B vitamins so you don’t need an additional B-Complex
  • Plant based phytochemical that support unique male and female health needs
  • Condition or illness specific formula
  • Professional strength formulas
  • Ingredients that have certificates of analysis ie testing of raw materials
  • Remember that quality ingredients delivered at effective dosages are not cheap
  • Formulas free from binders, fillers and additives

If a company can’t tell you the following don’t buy from them! :

  • Where their ingredients came from
  • Why the nutrients in the formula were included
  • Who developed the formula
  • What the formula is for and who it is best for
  • what relevant qualifications the staff have – biochemistry, nutrition, food science.

In summary have a read of the links below to make your own judgement. I know what works for me and my patients but you have to do what you feel is right for you. Multivitamin and mineral supplements are not intended to replace healthy eating recommendations; rather leading experts recommend they are used as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.



Colour changes and antioxidant content of vine and postharvest -ripened tomatoes

Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults; clinical applications

Most vitamin studies flawed by poor methodology

Vitamins and minerals can boost energy and enhance mood.

The Vitamin C pee myth


Vitamin C reduces exercise induced asthma

Vitamin C reduces exercise induced asthma aka broncho constriction or the decline of 10% or greater forced exercise volume within 1 second (FEV1). Dr. Harri Hemila from the University of Helsinki, Finland did a meta-analysis of Vitamin C studies and found that exercise induced wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, known exercise induced asthma can be reduced by taking Vitamin C at a minimum dose of 200mg.

About 10% of the general population suffers from exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, but among some fields of competitive winter sports the prevalence can be up to 50%. In sports such as marathon running and skiing there is a 48% reduction in FEV1.

Vitamin C also halves the incidence of common cold episodes in people enduring heavy short-term physical stress.

Dr. Hemila concludes that given the low cost and safety of vitamin C and the consistency of positive findings in three randomized trials on EIB, it seems reasonable for physically active people to test vitamin C on an individual basis if they have respiratory symptoms such as cough associated with exercise.

Vitamin C may alleviate exercise-induced bronchoconstriction: a meta-analysis. Harri Hemilä. BMJ Open 2013;3:6 e002416 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002416

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ANH Exclusive! Official EU data indicate lightning more likely to kill than herbs or vitamins

Preventable medical injury in EU hospitals poses the greatest risk of death to EU citizens – some 351,220 times the risk of consuming food supplements, and 206,600 times the risk posed by herbal medicines…….yet food supplements and herbal medicines are being legislated because they pose a risk to public health.

Risk analysis states that food supplements and herbs are very safe products.

Check this out for some interesting facts:

ANH Exclusive! Official EU data indicate lightning more likely to kill than herbs or vitamins.