Confused about basic vitamins, minerals, elements and ingredients? You’re not alone

‘Nutrition’ has become a bit of buzz word lately but it turns out that lots of Brits actually have no idea what it means. 

While researchers have discovered that a third of people in the UK are interested in nutrition and 28% go out of their way to avoid unhealthy foods, many struggle to identify basic vitamins, minerals and ingredients – despite claiming to be experts on the subject. 

For example, more than a quarter think mercury – a pollutant toxic to humans – is safe to eat.

When it comes to fats, 32% of people don’t know if monounsaturated fats – which can reduce cholesterol and are found in avocados – are good or bad for health.

One in 10 don’t know Omega-3 – which is believed to lower the risk of heart disease – is a fat found in fish, flax seeds and walnuts, with some even mistaking it for a watch brand.

Twenty-nine per cent confused choline, an essential nutrient found in the likes of cauliflower, with chlorine, which has been used as a chemical weapon.

Know Your Nitrates

The research of 2,000 UK adults was commissioned to launch the KNOW Your Nitrates (NO3) campaign, which has been designed to help educate people on nitrates in drinking water.

It found that 77% of people polled have no idea what nitrates are or whether they are good or bad for you – when, in fact, they have been linked to potentially serious health issues including thyroid and circulatory problems.

And it’s a similar story for vitamins – of those who take vitamin C, 35% have no idea it’s essential for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues.

Six in 10 don’t think they’re getting enough vitamins in their diet but 67% wouldn’t be able to spot the signs they are vitamin deficient or not.

“This survey shows that people don’t find it easy to identify vitamins, minerals and other ingredients,” says nutritional health expert Dr Marilyn Glenville. 

”That’s why it’s so important to read the labels on your food and drinks. It’s crucial to know what you are putting in your body as this affects your health both physically and mentally.”

The research also found that maintaining health is our biggest priority when it comes to nutrition.

This was closely followed by upping energy levels and getting all of the vitamins and minerals needed to function properly.

Interestingly, 27% of those polled they don’t read the ingredients list on food and drink purchases at all.

Nine in 10 aren’t aware nitrates in drinking water can have a negative impact on health.

While 5% wrongly believe nitrates in mineral water – pollutants and heavy oxidants which enter the water table from agricultural fertilisers and leaking septic tanks – are good for you.

Only 21% know nitrates can end up in mineral water from chemical fertilisers, and just 9% know nitrates are pollutants from the water table.

Dr Marilyn Glenville added: ”The lack of understanding about nitrates, particularly in water, shown in the survey was of concern.  

”And also, for me, as a nutritionist, to learn that in many European countries, the legislation requires that the nitrate content in water should not exceed 10mg per litre.

“But in the UK the limit is 50mg per litre for adults and there is no legislation in place for children.”

Nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer said: “While our interest in health and wellbeing is increasing, it’s clear from AQUA Carpatica’s research that more information is needed around even simple, everyday products like drinking water.

”Few people are aware that nitrates, which can leach into water from fertilisers, manure and septic tanks, have been linked to potentially serious health issues including breathing problems for newborn infants, thyroid and circulatory problems, and headaches.

”Some people may prefer to choose a water that is nitrate-free.” 

Win! Award-winning, pure mineral water that’s nitrate-free

For a chance to win a batch of award-winning AQUA Carpatica Still Natural Mineral Water, which is naturally extracted from two pure aquifiers deep in the Carpathian Mountains, pick up a copy of the December/January issue of Holistic Scotland Magazine, in which you could win everything on the page.

Through a natural 20 to 40-year filtration process in a location with no agriculture or industrial activity in the surrounding areas, AQUA Carpatica’s source is protected from chemicals, fertilisers, CFCs and other contaminants.


How to avoid deficiencies on a plant-based diet

This World Vegan Month, BetterYou expains how to maintain energy levels on a plant-based diet 

According to The Vegan Society, there are currently 600,000 vegans in the UK – equating to 1.16% of the population – with a further 28% identifying as ‘meat reducers’.

As admirable as that may be, following a vegan or plant-based diet can have a significant impact on nutrient levels within the body and increase the likelihood of deficiencies.

More specifically, those following a plant-based diet are more at risk of reduced B12 levels and iron deficiency, says natural health company BetterYou.

Iron is a vital component of haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to transport it throughout the body. A lack of iron within the body can cause tiredness and fatigue, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.

The most absorbable form of iron, heme iron, is primarily derived from meat products – meaning vegetarians and vegans must find iron from other sources.

Another form of iron, known as nonheme iron, can be found in cereals, beans and some vegetables but, according to BetterYou, this has notoriously poor absorption levels.


“The soaring rise in popularity of vegan and plant-based diets is one of the key factors behind why more and more people are finding themselves nutrient deficient,” says Greg Weatherhead, who is a nutritional expert at BetterYou.

“While it does have its advantages such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, removing food groups from your diet can also remove essential nutrients.”

As with iron, meaningful levels of vitamin B12 are largely found in meat products.

Vitamin B12 helps the body’s ability to reduce the onset of fatigue and increases concentration levels as well as contributing to normal homocysteine metabolism.

B12 is generally not present in plant foods, there are fortified breakfast cereals available, however this vitamin is notoriously difficult to absorb in the gut. At most, only 1 per cent of our dietary intake will be absorbed by the body.

“It can be difficult for those on vegan diets to obtain adequate levels of essential nutrients from natural sources alone, so supplementing is the best way to ensure good health,” says Greg.

To support World Vegan Month, natural health company BetterYou has launched a brand-new Vegan Energy Bundle to help maintain health and contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

The bundle, which is Vegetarian Society and Vegan Approved, contains Iron and Boost B12 Oral Sprays.

Containing 100% vegan friendly formulations, the sprays are specially designed to be absorbed into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system.

An oral spray is an effective and convenient method of supplementation compared to traditional tablets and capsules by elevating nutrient levels and delivering nutrients into the bloodstream via the soft tissue within the mouth avoiding the digestive system.

The Vegan Energy Bundle, including Iron Oral Spray and Boost B12 Oral Spray, is available online at BetterYou.


Could taking vitamins during pregnancy reduce the risk of autism?

New research has found that women who took multivitamins and folic acid either before or during pregnancy were significantly less likely to have a child who went on to develop autism spectrum disorder.
The study (featured in JAMA Psychiatry) followed 45,300 Israeli children (of which around half were girls) born in 2003-2007 and checked for a diagnosis of autism up until January 2015. During this time, 572 (1.3%) children received a diagnosis of autism.
Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton of the Health and Food Supplements Information Service said: “The results showed a 61% reduced risk of autism when mothers had taken either a multivitamin and/or folic acid supplement prior to becoming pregnant. It was also found that mothers who took these vitamin supplements during pregnancy were 73% less likely to have a child who went on to be diagnosed as autistic.
“While this is an observational study and we need to be cautious, it is an important finding which contributes to our body of knowledge on factors linked with autism.
“Around 75% of women of childbearing age in the UK have an inadequate folate status putting their children at risk of neural tube disorders, such as spina bifida. Only a quarter of women take the recommended folic acid supplements before conception and in the first trimester of pregnancy. It is possible, given these new findings, that a lack of key nutrients may also be an issue for autism risk”.
“According to autism charities, over 695,000 people in the UK may be autistic, with a prevalence rate of 1.1% in children. Taking a daily multivitamin is a useful way of ensuring that women have the nutrients they require. If planning a pregnancy, a daily folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms should be added to this.”

Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Nearly two thirds (64%) of Brits have dangerously low Vitamin D levels – partly because it’s impossible to get the required amount of sunshine in autumn and winter in the UK.
That’s according to research by VEGA Nutritionals, whose recent survey found that, after being tested, 53% of people in Scotland were Vitamin D deficient.
The study also found that while 19% of Scots are aware of the government’s recommendation that everyone in Scotland should take Vitamin D supplements, only 17% actually do.
Why everyone needs their Vitamin D 
“Vitamin D has many health benefits; it supports healthy bones, teeth, muscle growth and the immune system, all helping to keep you going through cold and flu season,” says VEGA Nutritionals.
“Sunshine is the best natural source of Vitamin D, but from now through to spring, we’re not going to get enough of it. In fact, it’s impossible to get the required amount of ultraviolet (UVB) sunshine to enable the skin to make adequate Vitamin D levels during the British autumn and winter.
“That’s why in 2016, the Department of Health (DoH) issued an official recommendation that every single person in the UK should supplement their diet with 10μg (micrograms) of Vitamin D every day throughout autumn and winter.”
Why Scotland needs the ‘D’ factor 
“Numerous studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone diseases, such as rickets, osteoporosis, factures and falls.  Vitamin D absorbs and regulates calcium and phosphate in the body.  Both are needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscle growth.  They also support our immune system to fight illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, as well as depression and obesity. Recent studies have shown that Vitamin D protects against colds. So, it is vital for us to get our required daily amount.
“Large numbers of the UK population are at particular risk.  These include some ethnic groups with dark skin who may not get enough Vitamin D from natural sunlight year-round. Also vulnerable are people with little exposure to sun, such as those who cover most of their skin whilst they are outdoors or people who do not spend much time outside. This can include the elderly or people living in institutions such as care homes, as well as babies and small children.”
Why city living compounds the issue
“Sixty per cent of people living and working in urban areas are at a greater risk of Vitamin D deficiency in winter, with 16% of Londoners at risk all year round.  The new survey found that the UK’s northernmost cities, at highest risk of all, are also the worst for taking Vitamin D.  Almost three quarters of Scots living in Edinburgh (74%) and Glasgow (72%) don’t use supplements and citizens of Liverpool and Newcastle at 76% are even worse, with only 3% of children receiving their recommended dose.
“Office workers and most indoor occupations reduce your time to be outdoors.  A recent survey found that 15% of workers spend no time in a nature-like environment outside during the working week. In addition, only 30% take a proper lunch-break. Finally, workers on nightshifts are often asleep at the key time of day when the sun can help your Vitamin D levels.”
To help answer this deficiency, VEGA Vitamins (part of VEGA Nutritionals) has launched a new range of Vitamin D3 supplements – available for all members of the family and as a spray, chewable tablets and infant drops for babies.
Vega EveryDay-DInfant-D and Urgent-D products are available in pharmacies and health food stores nationwide and to buy online.