To supplement or not?

In my other life as a Cub Scout Leader we sometimes talk about friendships and peer pressure. Some Cubs are well versed in the fact that your friends shouldn't pressurise you into doing things you don't want to do. However I do point out that sometimes it is good to step out of our comfort zone, whilst we should not be persuaded into anything illegal or dangerous, new things can challenge and enhance our lives. I regularly challenge my patients to explore new ideas and try new movement patterns in order to change pain perception.

  So it was on the persuasion of my work colleagues that I found myself at a Lamberts Healthcare seminar in Newcastle. I have always felt strongly that a good varied diet (especially combined with good varied movement) is all that we need to maintain general good health. However I have been persuaded by research in the last 5 or 10 years that a Vitamin D supplement is beneficial during the winter and early spring months. I've also been following the mindblowing research into the gut microbiota and how it appears to affect both mental and physical health and more worryingly how our microbiotic diversity may be declining due to modern diet and lifestyle. So maybe it was time to look again into dietary supplementation?

 The day was both challenging and enjoyable. It is not often that I think on the cellular level and scientific understanding of the physiology of cells has grown hugely I found it massively interesting to be looking into how the tiny cells that make us as an organism are affected by what we do and of course vice versa. I loved the image of the mitochondria, the producers of energy in the cells, increasing in efficiency and number as we exercise. They too seem to thrive on pressure, a bit of stress, which can be driven by diet, exercise or other external factors such as temperature. 

  I now need to do some work. It is fascinating and useful to learn about our cell and organ physiology. But how effective are supplements? What research is there to show how useful they are. Testing is expensive, are the results worth the expenditure? In my working life I have seen many 'miracle cures' come and go, but some have stood the test of time. Is there really anything that will help our bodies to work more harmoniously and give that energy boost we all seem to be looking for? Or do supplements just drive our wish for a pill for every ill? On the other hand do current dietary regimes do us any good?

 I'll be honest though, as a result of the seminar, having had a period of mild 'flu followed by a heavy head cold which I have struggled to shift I have started taking co-enzyme Q10.......having done no research apart from ensuring its safety record.