Dietary Supplements: The Search for Strength and Protection

by Nektaria Karakosta

The return to the usual obligations and daily stress, post-holiday blues, cooler weather, the first colds and general lack of energy are the reasons why we often visit a pharmacy this time of year, looking for a dietary supplement that can help us cope.
A pharmacy’s shelves provide many options, which include every possible product. What should we look for when choosing and using a dietary supplement?

► Check the ingredients. 
Hundreds of products are available in the market, and just as many food ingredients can be found in supplements used for strengthening the immune system. Most popular of these are:

› Vitamin C.
It neutralises free radicals which destroy the cells involved in the immune system.  
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is found in many foods, but is easily destroyed and therefore only a small amount is still present by the time the food is consumed. This problem is solved with Solgar’s Ester-C 500/1000 mg, a revolutionary non-acidic form of vitamin C (ascorbic ester instead of acid), which incorporates a complex of citrate bioflavonoids, acerola, wild rose seeds, rutin and natural vitamin C metabolites. Ester-C is absorbed 4 times more easily, activated 2 times faster and remains in the circulation 2 times longer compared to common vitamin C. Also, it penetrates more easily into white blood cells, thus strengthening the immune system.

›  Vitamin D.
Well known for its important role in bone health, vitamin D is now attracting the attention of the scientific community for its overall benefits for the human body. 
Sufficient amounts of vitamin D ensure good absorption of calcium and phosphorus, a positive mood and vitality, and protection from winter’s challenges, as it reinforces our immune system against daily threats. It has been determined that T-cells (also called killer cells) are activated immediately in case of infection when there are sufficient amounts of vitamin D in the blood.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin under the effect of solar radiation. Reduced sunshine levels during the winter decrease the amount of vitamin in the body. The ideal supplement for this vitamin is D3, which is more easily assimilated by the body.

›  Vitamin Ε
Lack of this vitamin leads to impaired immune responses. Vitamin E has powerful antioxidant effects and can be useful in preserving the health of the cardiovascular system, in protecting from toxic environmental factors, and in promoting skin elasticity.

› Omega-3 fatty acids
Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids promote the health of the cardiovascular and the central nervous systems, enhance intellectual abilities and protect the joints. An ideal source for these fatty acids is Krill Oil by my elements. It is produced from the krill zooplankton Euphausia superba, a pure natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, necessary for the body’s normal function.

› Zinc
Trace element necessary for the development and the proper function of the immune system. It is a constituent of many cells which contribute to the body’s defensive functions.

› Q10 co-enzyme
It is an antioxidant which promotes the production of ATP energy in cells.

► Choose a brand that you trust. 
By choosing an internationally known brand, from a respected company with long-term presence and specialisation in supplements, you are buying a high-quality product which will provide all the effects stated on its label and which is absolutely safe. Read the claims on the label: the more plausible these are, the more likely it is that they are true. Don’t trust products that promise the moon, making outrageous claims!

► Capsules or effervescent tablets?
Absorption of these ingredients in the stomach contributes to higher and more effective absorption by the body. However, our selection can depend on the ease of administration (many people cannot swallow caps). This choice is a matter of individual preference.
No matter what you choose, make sure you follow the dosage provided on the labelling or by an expert, so that you will always be within safe limits. In any case, dietary supplements must be administered on the advice of a doctor or another health care specialist (dietician, pharmacist) if you are already taking any other drug. So, just to be safe, buy a supplement that is suitable for you from the pharmacy and discuss with your doctor any questions you might have.

► Practical tips
The ideal time to take a dietary supplement is at mealtime (unless otherwise directed by the manufacturer), so that its absorption will be slower and more complete. 
Vitamin, mineral and trace element supplements for children cover the needs and deficiencies that most children have because of their unvarying diets. There are no risks, as long as you have selected a product suitable for children and you don’t increase the dosage. Only use products made by reputable companies and sold in pharmacies.

► Duration of supplement use
Dietary supplements are a matter of dispute between experts. For some, a balanced diet with variety can indeed contain all the nutrients we need. Others believe that this is practically impossible and so supplements are necessary. This latter view is shared by studies which show that the soil, for example, which is the first link in the food chain, has become poorer in minerals1,2.  In practice, also, most people have dietary preferences which might preclude satisfactory consumption of foods like fish, dairy etc. Frequent dieting also has a “cost” as far as nutrients are concerned, as does vegetarianism and the reduced gastric absorption ability of the elderly.
Consequently, supplements are definitely useful in the winter for reinforcing our immune system. When following a weight loss diet, a supplement which will complement the low-calorie diet regimen is necessary; also, in periods of hard work when eating at home is impossible, the use of a multivitamin product is indicated. 
Multivitamins are considered to be a “safety net” because they cover any deficiencies that might occur from non-balanced diets. Solgar’s Omnium multivitamin is a scientifically studied, balanced combination of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, powerful antioxidants and precious vegetable elements. It is a leading dietary supplement, the result of in-depth knowledge and extensive studies on disease prevention and on achieving and maintaining good health.



[1] Abrahams P.W. (2002), Soils: their implications to human health, Sci, Total. Environ, vol. 291, pp 1-32. [2] Hough, R. L. (2007), Soil and human health: an epidemiological review. European Journal of Soil Science, 58: 1200–1212