health

Everything you need to know about supplements (and what ingredients actually help).

Wanderlust
Thanks to our brand partner, Wanderlust

With Australians becoming increasingly more proactive in their approach to their health and wellbeing, the rise in popularity for the cleaner living (and beauty) movement has been tenfold, alongside an increase in demand for particular health products like supplements

Though not all supplements are created equal. Health and supplement brand, Wanderlust, is breaking new ground with their 100 per cent plant powered supplements, offering cleaner supplement alternatives. But frankly (for novices like me at least) this realm is still a bit... confusing.

So, for those of us who aren’t completely in the know about what exactly there is to know about supplements, Mamamia spoke with Naturopath Cheryl Goodman to find out.

And we started right at the very beginning.

What exactly is a supplement?

“Supplements are just that – supplementary to your everyday life, and designed to support your diet and lifestyle choices,” says Goodman.

They are there to assist us with our general health, and can also help with a myriad of ailments and concerns, supporting your mind and body. 

“Importantly, in Australia most supplements are considered medicines, and regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA),” she adds.

What can supplements actually help us with?

“Nutritional supplements are particularly helpful if you’re not getting enough through your diet to meet your needs, especially if you’re going through a period of time where your requirements might be heightened,” Goodman explains. 

For myself, as a resident Victorian, this may include not getting enough of the sun’s natural vitamin (thanks winter), Vitamin D.

“Vitamin D is exceptionally important for immune, bone and mental health. We actually get most of our vitamin D through sunlight and small amounts in our food intake. So, [in winter] it would be beneficial to take a supplement.”

In addition to nutritional supplements there are also herbal supplements, and these work a little differently, acting as more of a “support” to your “individual needs and health goals,” says Goodman.

Each medicinal herb has its own unique benefits depending on its phytochemical makeup and function. 

“Turmeric, for example, helps with inflammation; Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that supports the body’s stress response; St John’s Wort is well known for mood and emotional balance; Brahmi for brain health and memory; Cramp Bark for muscle health and Echinacea for cold & flu; just to name a few.” 

What things should I check before introducing a supplement? 

Goodman says “when choosing which supplements you would like to take, look at your lifestyle, listen to your body and identify a few health goals that are important to you. Then look for supplements to address those health goals.”

ADVERTISEMENT

She also advises checking in with a healthcare professional to get tailored advice, and also to be confident in speaking with supplement companies directly if they can help clarify any information about a product.

In addition to this, Goodman recommends speaking to your healthcare professional when considering changes to your wellness routine, and adding and removing supplements.

This is especially important “if you have an underlying medical condition, experience new or ongoing symptoms, are taking medication, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have allergies."

And if you think you might be having a reaction to a supplement product, stop taking the supplement and then speak directly with your healthcare professional.

What should you look for when choosing a supplement? 

It's important to interrogate and be aware of what we consume. So, knowing and understanding the ingredients that are in the supplements we take is pretty vital.

“It might surprise you to know: most vitamins and minerals such as your vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, are synthetically produced. And a number of animal ingredients are very common, gelatine in particular,” Goodman says.

But this isn’t necessarily what consumers are wanting. 

“We’re seeing a huge shift in consumers wanting more natural products, avoiding synthetic ingredients where possible,” she explains.

And Wanderlust have listened. 

Their supplements are naturopathically formulated, crafted with plant actives, and offer options in vege capsules, rapidly-absorbed liquids, and powder form instead of tablets (to avoid using coating agents and tabletting aids). 

They also proudly produce products that don't contain artificial flavours or artificial colours, something they hope will spur innovation to set new 'cleaner' benchmarks within the vitamin and supplement industry.

Goodman further stressed that when choosing any supplement: “It's also important to look for supplements that contain low to no excipients."

"This is made even more challenging, given supplement brands are not required to disclose the excipients used in their formulas on their packaging. The only way to find out exactly what is in your supplements is to go to The Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) website, and search for the product specifically."

But what are excipients, exactly?

“For those who might not be aware, excipients are the ingredients in supplements that don’t have a therapeutically active function and are mainly used to put the supplement into a form you can actually take. 

"For example, a capsule shell. Fillers, binders, coating agents, flavours, colours, disintegrants are all examples of excipients,” Goodman says.

ADVERTISEMENT

For example, Wanderlust have made their supplements free from over 20 ingredients, including excipients, that don’t meet the brand's standards.

Some plant-derived ingredients have been proven to have health benefits.

“Vitamin C from Amla and Acerola, Omega-3 and Vitamin D from marine algae, Iron from curry leaf, Zinc from Guava and Calcium from calcified algae,” Goodman confirms are just some plant-derived ingredients proven to have health benefits explains Goodman.

The most natural and pure way to consume these, she adds, is through liquid herbal extracts.

“Liquids have the additional benefit of being rapidly absorbed. They don’t need to be broken down, like tablets, and absorption can begin straight away in the mouth,” especially helpful for those with digestive issues.

Image: Wanderlust.

Supplements aren’t a quick fix.

Finally, Goodman says it is important to remember that because supplementation is often used as a form of preventative health, that they are not a quick fix.

“So have patience and enjoy the process of supporting your wellbeing.”

Naturopathically formulated & 100 per cent plant powered, every Wanderlust product is consciously created with intelligence and purpose, so you can positively support your wellbeing and the planet.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Read the health warnings before purchase.

Feature Image: Mamamia/Instagram @wanderlustausnz

Wanderlust
Our pursuit of striving for minimal fillers is what sets us apart. Just as the clean beauty movement revolutionised the category, we hope that our vision will spur innovation to set a new benchmark within the vitamin and supplement industry. We have approached what we do differently from inception by questioning the use of coating agents, plastic packaging and animal-derived ingredients. Striving for natural, our approach to fillers is simple — only use where it is absolutely essential to support the purpose of our products. Explore our world of wellness and 100% plant powered supplements at Wanderlust.