The Truth About Supplements
by Christina Agnew,
We are fascinated by supplements - the good, the bad, the not worth taking, the possibly damaging and the life changing. But it gets really confusing! We included the beautifully packaged and utterly functional powder supplements from Equi London in our recent cleanse goody bag and it got us thinking once again about how to choose the right supplements. Equi was co-founded by registered nutritional therapist Alice Mackintosh and former City high flyer Rosie Speight. So we've taken the chance to grill them about the truth on supplements, some of the more unusual ingredients they use and their general philosophy on healthy living. Read on!
Also, if you want to try Equi's fabulously easy, single daily dose powders then use the code RADIANCEEQUI2017 for free UK postage on their site HERE.
What was the personal experience that inspired you to create Equi?
Equi was founded by close friends Rosie and Alice. Friends for over a decade, they started their careers in very different worlds. Rosie worked long hours in her high flying job in the city, climbing the corporate ladder at leading Investment Banks. After studying Biomedical Sciences at university, Alice embarked on a second degree in Nutritional Therapy before opening her clinic on Harley Street.
The idea came about after Alice helped Rosie with a skin problem she was having. Like so many other women, Rosie had been on the contraceptive pill for many years and as soon as she stopped taking it ahead of trying for a baby, horrible acne had massively flared up. She’d always eaten well and kept fit, so after suggesting a few small dietary changes, Alice put together a supplement regime of 8 different products, only available through a specialist practitioner. Within weeks, not only was Rosie’s acne was clearing up and her scars healing, her energy and concentration levels were drastically improved, as was her digestion and sleep - she felt the best she had in years. It was only then that she really realised how sub-par she’d been feeling on a day-to-day basis, something that so many of us put with given our busy lives.
We quickly realised that there had to be others out there who were going through the same thing and would really benefit from taking these ingredients….however this product didn’t exist. Though the supplement industry is huge, there was a real lack of readily available, expertly formulated, practitioner-level quality products that actually worked and made a real difference to how people look and feel. And so the idea for Equi was born and we got started with developing our own range.
There are a lot of superfood and supplement powders available now. What makes Equi different?
Crucially, our customers want products that really work and make a noticeable difference, which is why they keep coming back to us.
There are loads of products out there and there is a huge amount of confusion about what to take, when and how much. Supplements get a lot of bad press for being ineffective and we tend to agree with this - most of the readily available products don’t give any noticeable changes and many include poor quality forms of vitamins and minerals that can do more harm than good. Though there are some good products on the market, there wasn’t anything that was as comprehensive as what we knew was needed to make a difference.
The products are comprehensive all-in-one supplements made with the highest quality ingredients, expertly formulated by Alice based on years of clinical experience. They have been designed for on-the-go busy people who don’t have the time to research what vitamin or superfood to buy, nor the time to take the variety of different pills and powders necessary to give real results.
Equi products are powders that you mix with water, juice or add to a smoothie and each daily scoop gives you everything you need to stay healthy. They are equivalent of taking around 15 pills with a mix of supergreens and grasses, a multivitamin/mineral, probiotics, digestive enzymes, omegas 3,6 and 9, adaptogenic herbs, medicinal mushrooms and targeted ingredients for skin and energy… this means you only have to take one product and you’re done for the day!
We really feel that you get what you pay for with supplements. What should we look for as markers of quality and supplements that will actually work?
We agree that cheaper products tend to mean cheaper ingredients, and that these are usually ineffective and often harmful,. But conversely, we do also believe that some premium, celebrity backed products can be overly expensive owing to fancy packaging and clever marketing. The key is to find the middle ground and our top tips for doing this are:
(1) Make sure the product is expertly formulated by a qualified nutritionist. Many products are simply cheap, off the shelf formulations made in huge factories, but a really good product will have has the best quality ingredients, carefully chosen in a form that the body can use properly.
(2) Check if the company make a point about the quality of their ingredients on their website – they wouldn’t shout about it otherwise. For example; zinc should always be in picilinate rather than the cheaper citrate and vitamin C should always be calcium ascorbate rather than the cheaper ascorbic acid.
(3) Look for specialised products that are targeted at specific outcomes, rather than one-fits-all approach.
(4) Don’t take tablets as they don’t tend to get broken down by the body too well. Capsules are better, but powders beat them all!
(5) Avoid basic multi-vitamins – they tend to use lower quality vitamins and minerals.
(6) Don’t be taken in by celebrity endorsements. These have normally been paid for!
(7) Expensive, heavy weight packaging is expensive, so make sure you’re not paying over the odds for something you’ll ultimately throw in the bin.
(8) Check if the product has done good quality trials on their products.
What's your take on the clean eating trend and the more negative press it's received lately?
We are big believers in looking after yourself and prioritizing health, and any company or advocate that encourages people to do this safely, based on good evidence is a hero in our book. Though we do think those offering health advice should be qualified, we are against the vilification and name-and-shaming that has happened in recent months. ‘Clean eating’ has been turned into something that is it isn’t, and though we definitely needed to have a shake down on the language used, to say that anyone advocating a healthy balanced diet set out to encourage obsessive eating behaviour and orthorexia is extreme and unfair.
There is no doubt that anyone claiming to ‘cure cancer’ should be brought to light as potentially dangerous and misleading to vulnerable individuals, but there are many people advocating healthy and balanced lifestyle based on good hard evidence that are being tarred with the same brush. This can be damaging to the views of the general public, who on balance, don’t prioritize their health and are often given dated and one-fits-all advice by their GPs.
We are non-judgemental and non-restrictive. We don’t advocate being vegan, gluten free (unless medically necessary), teetotal or abstaining from what life has to offer – it just has to be balanced carefully with realistic health regimes and a top quality supplement.
We take a very balanced approach to health - eat well 80% of the time, and 20% can be what you like. Don’t feel bad for enjoying a cake that your friend made you, or having a few glasses of wine at the weekends. The health commentary has become confused and too extreme and even with the best intentions, most really busy, on-the-go people don’t have time to eat well 100% of the time whilst travelling, going to work events, socialising etc… and they shouldn’t feel guilty about that. That’s why our supplements are such a quick and easy addition to anyone’s daily routine to ensure you’re ticking some of the key nutritional boxes each day.
What is the 'Equi Eight' philosophy?
Equi nutritional supplements are based around our 'Equi Eight' philosophy which divides the body into systems, all of which contribute equally to keeping us strong and healthy.
The body is an enormously complicated machine with each component working together in complete synergy. In order to look and feel your best, every part of you has to be comprehensively supported, both collectively and in isolation.
We are all highly sensitive to out environment, and modern lifestyles can compromise many aspects of our intricate functioning. If one system becomes imbalanced or overworked, functioning becomes compromised which can have far reaching impacts, leading to an array of symptoms that don’t always seem to be immediately linked.
Symptoms of imbalance will manifest differently in everyone according to our unique genetic code, lifestyle and environment. No matter what the issue is - low energy, problem skin (acne, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, rosacea), bloating (and IBS), poor concentration or weakened immunity - it is a sign that the body needs extra support.
By nourishing and realigning each system, our supplements balance the body, promote optimal function and restore total harmony. Using this approach we have created supplements that perform like no other, working uniquely with each person to target their specific needs and underlying requirements.
This is why we believe our products give faster, effective and more sustainable results.
Your supplements contain some of the newer adaptogenic ingredients like Ashwagandha. What's so special about these?
We have got a lot of special ingredients in the blends that we spent many months sourcing from all over the world, and this is one of the reasons why the products work so well and are different to everything else out there.
Alice’s experience as a consultant and her persistent eye on the latest evidence on supplements allowed us to fuse together ingredients used in ancient practices the world over with pioneering science. Some of the more unique ingredients are based on Ayurvedic practices (schisandra and ashwagandha) as well as traditional chinese medicine (cordyceps and shiitake) which have been used for thousands of years. Recent research has shown they have really powerful impact on hormones, digestion, immunity and adrenals, which can make a real difference to how we look and feel improving our resilience to stress. There are a number of other unusual ingredients that we include that you would normally have to go and buy separately such as pine bark, glutathione, turmeric and milk thistle.
What do you say in response to the opinion that we can get all the nutrition we need from our diet, without taking any supplements?
In an ideal world we all would! This would be easy if we lived on a beach in the sunshine, where fresh, healthy local food grown in fertile soils are in abundance - and we had the time to prepare it every meal time! The reality is quite far removed from this – stresses at work and home, travel and packed schedules make it hard to eat well all the time. Grabbing a salad from Prêt seems like the healthy option, but is it actually delivering everything you need?
Soils are 40% less nutrient dense than they were 60 years ago and a lot of what we eat has travelled across the world before it reaches out plates, only to be boiled to within an inch of it’s life!
Stress also makes you burn through nutrients more quickly, and many of the side effects we suffer with (low energy, poor sleep, bad skin, poor digestion, terrible PMS and poor immunity) are signs that the body is in need of extra goodness. Top quality, well formulated supplements are a great way to top up the levels especially if they also contain supergrasses (natures multivtiamin) balancing adaptogenic herbs and medicinal mushrooms that instinctively with the body, deep at it’s core to support the entire body.
What are your non-negotiable self care habits, other than Equi!
We both have a stupidly busy schedules (Rosie has a one year old and house development project, Alice a busy clinic and a book) so looking after ourselves is absolutely essential to keep us going!
Exercise, eating 8 sources of vegetables per day, mindfulness/meditation, taking time out at weekends/holidays and getting enough sleep are top priorities for us. We also love acupuncture when we need to really switch off.
We believe that it’s important as women to accept that we can’t ‘do it all’. As much as we would love to, we cram in taking care of the home, work outs, a career, children, travel and socialising but quite often something has to give otherwise our health can suffer. Accepting this and being kind to yourself is important part of our approach to wellbeing.
Try Equi HERE and quote RADIANCEEQUI2017 for free UK postage on your order.