DEAR Panther I have been chatting with some friends who take supplements for various ailments they have, and I was wondering if there are any that you can recommend to me.

DENNIS Hillingdon

Hi Dennis.

We should all take a multi-vitamin as we do not get sufficient nutrients within our diets, no matter how good.

There are many supplements on the market and although you have not told me your symptoms I have listed a few supplements to aid specific deficiencies. * Insomnia - supplement: magnesium

Insomnia, especially type two insomnia, where you wake up and can't get back to sleep, may mean you have a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is a nervous system relaxant and has a calming effect which helps you sleep.

High stress and tension and muscle cramps may also be signs that your magnesium levels are running low.

Have in your diet: wholegrain cereals, nuts, sesame seeds leafy green vegetables. * Feeling moody - supplement: B vitamins

If you feel a bit moody and don't know why, you may require more B-vitamins.

Mild deficiencies can really affect how you feel. B vitamins are essential for optimum mental function. Studies show the brain uses vitamin B1 to convert glucose into fuel and without it will rapidly run out of energy, which can trigger low moods.

When you're stressed, your body uses B-vitamins more quickly, so you may need to increase your intake.

B-vitamins can't be stored in the body, so we need to take in enough every day to maintain optimum mental health. They're also destroyed by alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and cooking, so it's not surprising many of us are deficient.

Have in your diet: dietary sources which include wholegrain cereals, meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts and dried fruits. * Craving sweet and carbohydrate foods - supplement: chromium

Sweet cravings can be an indication your body is short of the mineral chromium.

Chromium regulates blood sugar and a shortage will leave you craving foods that release energy quickly.

Other symptoms of chromium deficiency are poor concentration, feeling sleepy in the afternoon and becoming irritable when you go for more than four hours without food.

Have in your diet: red meat, liver, egg yolk, seafood, whole-grain cereals and cheese.

Constant infections - supplement: vitamin C

If you keep getting colds, flu and other infections, such as thrush, you could be short of vitamin C. A chronic shortage of vitamin Ccan promote a wide range of illnesses and diseases because the vitamin is a vital nutrient for the immune system.

Bleeding gums, bruising easily and constant fatigue are other signs you could be short on vitamin C.

Have in your diet: fresh fruit and vegetables, especially citrus fruit, kiwifruit, berries and green vegetables. Steam your vegetables where possible and serve them immediately.

Eczema - supplement: fatty acids

Itchy skin can mean you have a deficiency of fatty oils. Some types of vital fats are not made in the body so must be supplied in the diet. These fatty acids are found in oils such as evening primrose, flaxseed, hemp and fish oils.

They keep cell membranes healthy and transport fats around the body. Have in your diet: oily fish, unsalted nuts and seeds

Hope this helps.


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