As a family we don’t take food supplements. I believe that a balanced, healthy, home-cooked diet is enough to keep us in good shape. As a SAHWM (stay at home working mum) I always find time to prepare varied meals, which I cook from scratch. We choose organic whenever we can get it (and afford it). Becoming veggie had a surprising benefit, as I had to become more aware of nutrition – I was entering an unknown territory where safety of meat, carbs and two veg was no longer an option.
The no supplement approach seems to work well. I am 5 months pregnant and my recent blood results are a testament that food alone can provide us with all the necessary vitamins and minerals. To my GPs astonishment my iron levels are high, despite us not eating meat.
Having said that, there are times when supplements are the best option. For example now that days are shorter and the sun is not as strong vitamin D supplement is essential. Vitamin D can be found in some foods (like oily fish, eggs and some fortified products), but it’s not enough. The best source is sunlight on skin. When there is not enough sun, or our work pattern doesn’t allow us enough time outside, taking supplements is the only way.
Similarly, busy families, with both parents working don’t always have enough time to prepare nutritious meals from scratch. Mothers and fathers whose children are fed at schools and nurseries don’t have full control of family diet. In such, not uncommon circumstances, good quality supplements are an insurance policy to ensure family’s wellbeing.
I know that once the baby number two is born I won’t have time to think as much about our food, not to mention spend time preparing it, so Little F, Daddy and I will be taking some supplements for a period of time.
I have recently been approached by Viridian – producers of organic vitamins and food supplements – with an opportunity to review their products. I usually don’t work with supplement brands, for the reasons I have outlined above, however after checking their eco-credentials they seem to be the brand with a difference. I was impressed with the trio of their core values: purity, charity, environment. Not many businesses put such high ideals at the core of their business – it tends to get in the way of making money. Their large product range has many organic and vegan options. And if this is not enough they pay 25p for each supplement bottle/jar recycled at the health-food store.
The quality of supplements is as important, as the quality of food. Purity and organic origin of active ingredients makes a big difference. I was very happy to find Viridian, or rather that Viridian found me, as now I don’t have to offer my family any additives, which usually make up a large part of dietary supplements. Viridian’s organic products are certified by Soil Association – the only real guarantee that products are truly organic.
With the autumn at our doorstep and Daddy’s problems with immune system I’ve decided to try some of their products.
We have been sent a selection of vitamin D supplements. When I saw all the glass jars I was confused. I had to do some good research to find out differences between vitamin D2 and D3, as well as capsules vs drop form. We have also received a deliciously sounding Organic Elderberry Throat Spray with manuka honey and marshmallow (I almost wish I had a bad throat just to try it! as it is Daddy is the one with frequent throat problems and so I have to rely on his descriptions for the review).
My first impression was how much Viridian team managed to squeeze into a small box, very efficient packing – smaller parcels take up less space in transport, so less lorries are needed on the roads (eco-points for reducing the carbon footprint). It’s also pleasantly human, compared to half empty one-size-fits-all Amazon parcels. My second thought was ‘Wow, I’m keeping this tissue paper for Christmas wrapping’ – I tend to use papers, magazines and all sorts of paper products to wrap gifts.
Vitamin D Supplements
We all need vitamin D, but it’s especially important for children and pregnant women, the former because of their rapid growth, the latter because they are sharing their stores with the baby. Vitamin D helps to build strong bones by metabolising calcium; it decreases possibility of fractures by creating muscle contractions, which improve balance (also stronger bones are less likely to brake); and prevents rickets; it also strengthens immune system; and finally helps to combat fatigue, as it’s part of a reaction which controls stable energy release.
There are two types of commercially available Vitamin D: D2 and D3. The latter is the better type, as it is exactly the same as what our bodies produce when in contact with sunlight. This means that it is more active in our bodies and absorbs better. The former used to be the only vegan choice, as rather than being produced in reaction with lanolin (substance found on sheep’s wool) it is synthetically produced using yeast and funghi. Most studies seem to suggest vitamin D2 is less active in human body and dosage has to be bigger. Some studies also suggest that it is easier to overdose and that it can be toxic to human body.
A relatively recent discovery that vitamin D3 can be extracted from lichen, means that vegans now have a choice. Vitamin D3 also has a longer shelf life. All the above makes vitamin D3 a better choice for my family.
Viridian vitamin D3 is vegan (extracted from lichen) and comes in small, tightly packed capsules. They have a pleasant, herby smell and no flavour. It’s a relief for me, as I always had problems swallowing standard size pills.
Vitamin D2 is organic as well as vegan. It also comes as clear tightly packed capsules, but the smell is much stronger. It reminds me of fish food.
The liquid form of vitamin D3 seems to be the best option: because of the liquid form it is the easiest to absorb. It does have the shortest shelf life though – 6 months. Viridian adds to the liquid vitamin D3 some natural orange oil, which gives it a lovely aroma. The oil is silky and non-greasy on the tongue ( however unlikely that sounds).
The final vitamin D3 product we have been testing is vegan drops for children. Little F loves them! Like the adult ones the required amount is measured with an old-fashioned glass pipette, which is quite fun. It also has some natural orange oil mixed in. It seems there is more of it than in the adult version, as the smell is stronger. Seeing Little F’s enthusiastic reaction and shouts for more, I thought the oil must be quite sweet, but it’s actually neutral in flavour. I measure out the drops directly into Little F’s mouth, but they can also be added to food or drink.
Organic Elderberry Throat Spray
with manuka honey and marshmallow
Because my immune system is quite strong I don’t often fall prey to soar throats. Even less now that I no longer commute to work on packed London tube. Daddy was the guinea pig for this product, as he happened to have a soar throat.
The smell is very pleasant (I would expect nothing else, with such a delicious list of ingredients), with the manuka honey definitely overtaking the delicate elderberry. Despite the sweet honey smell the flavour is fresh and fruity, not sticky or sickly. There is no stinging or numb feeling in the throat, just a fresh sensation. Daddy testifies that not only it is pleasant to use it also works. Seeing how much is left in the bottle, it is also very efficient.
If your family does take supplements, then Viridian is a great choice. Their products will help to keep you healthy and their sustainable approach will keep your conscience clean.
Disclosure: I have been compensated to review Viridian products, however the opinions are entirely my own and honest, based on results of our tests.