Britons are spending record amounts on supplements, whether to compensate for a poor diet or target specific health woes. But with high-tech vitamin patches, injections and drips now featuring in the wellness line-up, how do we know which one has the edge when it comes to boosting our health?
Supplements are big business. Up to two-thirds of British adults take vitamins daily, according to research by Mintel, with the industry now worth £442 million. As such, it’s one of the fastest-growing categories in the UK beauty and wellness market – and with good reason. Intensive farming methods continue to deplete soil quality, meaning the nutritional value of British food is plummeting. Moreover, the NHS reported in 2017 that 75 percent of Brits were failing to eat their five a day.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
A study by McCance and Widdowson shows that, between 1940 and 2002, the copper levels in British vegetables decreased by 76 percent and the calcium levels by 46 percent, while the irons levels in fruit were depleted by 24 percent. The research also showed that mineral levels in meat and dairy products slumped significantly. Supplements can compensate for this nutritional void.
Dietary supplements were first introduced in the early 20th century as a way to prevent deficiency-induced illnesses such as scurvy and rickets. Fast forward 100 years and the wellness-supplement umbrella is vast, spanning minerals, probiotics, amino acids and essential fatty acids in capsule and tablet form, but increasingly available as sprays, liquids, patches and injections.
But do we really know what we’re taking, and which methods are best when it comes to boosting our health?
Tablet-based supplements remain the most popular way to get a vitamin fix, but with thousands of formulas on offer at varying price points, navigating the shelves can be a complicated task. And it’s all too easy to pick up a dud formula. In the UK, most supplements are subjected to the food safety laws of the Food Standards Agency rather than the more demanding checks used for medicinal products. “The problem is you never quite know what you’re buying,” explains nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville. “Many formulas are packed with fillers and binding agents as well as poor-quality, and thus ineffective, vitamins and minerals.”
Pharmacist Dr Shabir Daya also doubts the efficacy of many vitamin supplements, saying the body cannot absorb 100 percent of anything oral, including capsules. “At best, we absorb just 60 percent of any given formula,” he says. “When you take a tablet, it must first travel through the digestive system, where a lot of its potency can be lost due to the stomach’s acidity.”
Vitamin sprays, on the other hand, are applied within the mouth, one of the most absorbent parts of our bodies. Our gums, cheeks and the underside of our tongues are all capillary-rich areas that allow for quick and easy absorption directly into the bloodstream. A study by the Nutrition Journal found vitamin absorption via oral sprays is almost three times higher compared to capsules. Glenville says vitamins D and B12 are particularly potent when taken sublingually.
Research also indicates that vitamins and minerals (particularly magnesium) are absorbed effectively when applied to the skin in spray or cream form. The primary benefit of spray-on magnesium is how quickly it gets to work, helping to relieve everything from muscle and joint pain to menstrual cramps.
Even probiotics are getting in on the act. Industry leader Symprove’s award-winning formula is liquid based, meaning it doesn’t trigger digestion, allowing bacteria to transit through stomach acid directly to the intestines. This is also the science behind Altrient C, a gel-based vitamin C supplement that’s an industry favourite.
Taking supplementation to the next level are vitamin drips, injections and patches. The IV drip has gained cult status in recent years, famed for its ability to banish hangovers, boost energy and even promote weight loss. But for all the lofty claims, it is yet to be proved that intravenous vitamin solutions are offering anything more than a placebo effect.
“There is research to suggest vitamin patches may work – HRT patches are hugely successful – but I’m sceptical about drips and injections,” says Daya. “Many deliver vitamins in huge doses, which can push you over the RDA. Instead of being a health ‘boost’, exceeding your daily allowance of certain vitamins can be dangerous.”
The bottom line? With patches and injections being a pricey, and controversial, way to get a vitamin fix, health experts believe the future lies in high-quality formulas, whatever their method of delivery.
“Just be sure to do your research,” says Glenville. “Always buy capsules instead of tablets, which guarantee far superior absorption, and when it comes to sprays, check the dosage and research claims. Anything that sounds too good to be true probably is.”
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.