Being a FashionBeans reader (good on you), it’s probably safe to assume that you take a bit of pride in your outward appearance (good on you again). However, what good is there in draping yourself head-to-toe in this season’s latest trends if you’ve got more bags than an airport carousel under your peepers and skin so flaky you could give Kellogg’s a run for its money?
The point is, an architect wouldn’t build his latest masterpiece on a foundation of mud and sewage, so how can you expect to look your best when what’s underneath your clothes is just crying out for nourishment.
For many people, the answer lies with vitamin and mineral supplements.
These little capsules promise to give your mind, body and soul (well, maybe not your soul) the nutrients they need to stay shining bright. But with such a dizzying array of products on offer, picking the right ones can be a royal pain in the vitamin A-hole. Not least because in many cases, the marketing is not backed up by mountains of evidence.
Over the years, studies and counter-studies have argued over the merits of various supplements. But after three disappointing trials in 2013, a strongly-worded editorial in The Annals of Internal Medicine said that enough was enough. “The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.”
It’s true that you can get the vast majority of what your body needs to be healthy from the food that goes in your mouth. But while popping a pill every morning is not going to make you live forever, there are instances where supplements are proven to help with specific ailments or to assist with certain kinds of lifestyle.
To help you make an informed choice, we’ve rounded up the finest multivitamins and supplements on the market and categorised them by what type of bloke they’ll suit best – all signed off by experts who know their fish oil from their snake oil.
However, at risk of sounding like your mum, before you embark on any new course of supplements, you’ll need to check with your GP that it’s the right path for you. Certain vitamins and minerals can interfere with any medication you might already be taking, so it’s important to rule out any potential unwanted side effects before getting started.
Got all that? Perfect. Now, let’s take a gander.
For The Heavy Lifter
If you’re in pursuit of biceps so bulging and pecs so powerful that they’d make Arnie quake in his boots and possibly even do a little wee in his leather Terminator trousers, some added nutrients can help to give you the boost you need. But while you’re probably already stocked on muscle-building supplements like protein and BCAAs, there are others that can protect against some of the lesser-known ills of exercise.
Free radicals are simple molecules, missing an electron, that are formed during exercise like weight training. In abundance they can have some nasty effects by attacking proteins like collagen, causing premature ageing of the skin. Luckily, they can be fought off.
“More free radicals are produced in exercise,” explains Jo Travers, a registered dietician and author of The Low-Fad Diet. “So a greater intake of antioxidants such as vitamin C, E and A may be beneficial.”
In addition to antioxidants, Travers suggests B vitamin coenzymes for amino acid metabolism and a hearty dose of vitamin C, which as well as being an antioxidant, is essential for tissue repair. Put simply, that means fewer rest days and bigger guns.
What To Buy
Muscletech Platinum Multivitamins
If a name like “Muscletech” isn’t enough to lure you in, these multivitamins really do have all bases covered. Packed full of antioxidants and essential nutrients, the daily tablets do everything they can to optimise even the most intense of workout regimens.
Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men
Jam-packed full of 70 active high-potency vitamins and minerals, Opti-Men’s all-in-one capsules are specially formulated to enable you to get the most out of a sweaty session on the bench.
NOW Foods Super Antioxidants
With a potent blend of expertly selected herb and fruit extracts, a bottle of these bad boys contains everything you need to help keep those free radicals at bay. If you want to keep skin healthy and even reduce the risk of cancer while you’re in full beast mode, this is just what you need.
For The Insomniac
We’ve all been there: 6am, an hour until you need to be up and in the shower and you’re only just beginning to nod off. Hardly the best start for a productive day at the office, is it?
Losing sleep can be extremely detrimental in almost every conceivable aspect of your life, but instead of just lying awake tossing and turning until it’s time to haul yourself out of your pit, give yourself a better chance of drifting off by making sure you’re getting enough of the right helping hands.
“Research has shown that maintaining sufficient levels of Vitamins B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12 may help achieve good sleep,” suggests Daniel O’Shaughnessy, a professional nutrition practitioner at The Naked Nutritionist. “[While] magnesium will help your body to release tension and relax.”
In addition to the usual vitamins and minerals, there are a few lesser-known helpers, says O’Shaughnessy.
“5-htp is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin – your sleep hormone,” he explains. “Your body can sometimes struggle with metabolism of these so in essence, supplementing is giving your body a little break from doing the work for you.
“Valerian root is also a herb for sleep, but its effects are largely related to relaxation.” Which, frankly, we’ll take.
What To Buy
Higher Nature Positive Outlook Capsules
This formula from Higher Nature contains a carefully mixed blend of B vitamins and amino acids, including 5-htp, to help you get some much-needed shut-eye.
Solgar Valerian Root Extract Capsules
Unlike its steel cousin in Game Of Thrones, Valerian Root probably isn’t much good for slaying white walkers. However, according to legions of fans, it can help to stop sleep issues dead in their tracks. Which, considering white walkers don’t actually exist, is probably a lot more useful.
Natrol E-Z Sleep
Using melatonin, vitamin B6 and L-Theanine, E-Z Sleep provides an entirely natural way to aid healthy sleep. What’s more, it comes in handy shot-sized bottles, as opposed to tablets, which claims to be berry flavoured but we’ll let you be the judge of that.
For The Worrier
Do you spend half of your life conjuring up scenarios in your head and fretting over the imagined consequences? Does the slightest problem fill you with dread? If so, it could just be that you lack some essential nutrients, and thankfully, there are a few supplements that can help to put your mind at ease. O’Shaughnessy lays out a few of the most important.
“Magnesium deficiency is associated with anxiety disorders,” he says. “Magnesium comes in many forms, and for anxiety, magnesium threonate is the best.
“All B vitamins may also have an effect on anxiety. B vitamins play a strong role in the nervous system, so studies indicate that supplementing B vitamins could help to improve anxiety outlook.”
When selecting the correct pills to pop to quell your anxiety, fans of stuff like yoga, kale, acupuncture and weird Chinese berries will be happy to learn there are a few herbal ingredients to look out for as well.
Rennet, an Indian plant, also known as ashwagandha, is thought to have therapeutic benefits and O’Shaughnessy notes that several human studies have shown it to decrease anxiety.
Kava root is another biggy, O’Shaunghnessy explains: “Kava is used to improve mood, ease anxiety and boost sociability. It works by stimulating dopamine receptors and inducing euphoria. Research shows it’s very effective for treating anxiety.”
What To Buy
With all-natural ingredients, including magnesium, several B vitamins and chamomile, BrainSmart is specifically designed to target the effects of anxiety in the most organic way possible.
Eurovital Kava Kava Capsules
Kava is lauded as the best natural remedy to combat stress and anxiety. These capsules from Eurovital will give you 30 days of the good stuff to help put your mind at rest.
Terra Nova Vitamin B-Complex
With all the B vitamins (yeah mate, that’s right, all of them), a dash of vitamin C and even some of that ashwagandha stuff we mentioned further up, Terra Nova’s Vitamin B-Complex tablets have everything you need to knock your anxiety firmly on the head.
For The Cardio Junkie
If your idea of a relaxing weekend off involves 50 lengths in the pool, followed by a quarter marathon in the park and a hike in the hills, then you’re probably pretty healthy as is. But adding a few supplements into the mix can help your muscles recover more quickly and improve stamina, meaning you may be able to turn that quarter marathon into a half marathon in a few weeks time. Maybe.
“B vitamins are needed for metabolic energy pathways such as glycolysis (converting glucose to energy) and the TCA cycle (converting fat to energy),” says Travers.
In plain English, that means they help your body to convert food into miles on the track. Essential stuff when you’re looking to beat your PB on Strava.
Travers adds that in addition, B12 and folate are particularly important for red blood cell synthesis, helping to deliver oxygen through the bloodstream and to your working muscles.
What To Buy
Formulated with both sports and just generally active lifestyles firmly in mind, Wellman Sport mixes essential vitamins and minerals to promote red blood cell production and a healthy immune system.
Healthspan Elite Magnesium Plus
Brimming with all the B vitamins you need to keep that blood pumping and those legs running like traction engines; this stuff also contains an injection of magnesium, which can encourage optimal muscle contraction, skeletal strength and energy production.
MyProtein B-Complex Capsules
By now you’re probably clear on how important the role of B vitamins is when it comes to sport, so it makes sense to cram as many of them in as you can. Vitamin-B complex supplements can help to increase energy, reduce fatigue and protect cells from oxidative stress.
For The Thinker
For those who spend their days being creative and using their brains at full throttle, it’s important to keep it lubed up and running like clockwork. Getting enough of the right nutrients is essential to make sure your grey matter is functioning accurately, and there are a few things you’ll want to consider adding to your diet straight away.
“Brain function is a broad topic,” explains Laura Clark, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist. “Low levels of folate and B vitamins have been linked with depression, [they’re also] important to release energy from our food.
Clark continues: “40 per cent of our brain cell walls are made up of omega 3 fatty acids… one of the biggest deficiencies in the UK. If oily fish isn’t your thing, then a supplement is advisable.”
So, to save you the hassle of eating an oily fish for breakfast every day, here are a few handy supplementary options you might want to consider instead.
What To Buy
Vitabiotics Ultra Omega 3
Designed specifically to improve brain function, vision and heart performance, these high-strength fish oil capsules contain 60 per cent omega 3 to keep your brain ticking along as efficiently as possible.
BrainSmart Ultra Advanced
If names are anything to go by, this stuff must pack a severe punch. However, if you’re more swayed by ingredients, facts and all that sort of boring stuff, rest assured that these one-a-day tablets are packed full of B vitamins, omega 3, zinc, iron and all the other bits and bobs you need to get your brain firing on all cylinders.
Efalex Active Memory
Keeping your memory in check is half the battle when it comes to improving your brain function, and these pills from Efalex were created with that in mind. Combining the critical Omega-3 nutrient DHA with vitamins B12 and folic acid, they’ll help to keep you mentally healthy, with a razor-sharp mind.
For The Office Worker
Putting in long hours at your desk and failing to get out and about in the light of day may keep your boss off your back, but it certainly isn’t doing anything for your health. Aside from weight gain, spine issues and decreased mental health, staying inside and inactive can starve your body of some of its essential nutrients.
“If you have a sedentary lifestyle or don’t go outside much, you definitely need more vitamin D,” says nutritional therapy consultant Judy Watson. “[It] supports strong bones but also supports mood and immune system in the winter.”
“You may also benefit from more magnesium, which helps relax muscles and reduce cravings for sugar and chocolate, which can be common for people sat indoors for long periods.”
What To Buy
Vitabiotics Ultra Vitamin D 2000IU
2000IU vitamin D3 is the preferred form of vitamin D produced naturally by the body on exposure to sunlight. Keeping on top of it when you’re not seeing enough daylight can keep your immune system healthy and prevent you from getting ill.
MyProtein Alpha Men
With an essential blend of important minerals and vitamins, including plenty of vitamin D, Alpha Men will help to replace the nutrients you’re missing out on while trapped in your office, as well as promoting a whole host of other health body and brain functions.
Golden Greens Organic Vitamin D Complex
For the veg heads out there, this completely organic and vegan option is brimming with all the D vitamins you could ever dream of. What’s more, rather than coming in tablet form, this organic vitamin D complex comes as a delicious chocolaty drink. Being healthy has never tasted this unhealthy.