The truth about nutritional supplements revealed by a UK leading Dietitian

One of the most commonly asked questions we hear at 121 Dietitian is “What supplements should I be taking?” With this in mind, Director and Principal Dietitian Gillian Killiner discusses the topic of supplements and who should be taking what.

It might surprise you to learn that the term ‘dietary supplements’ actually applies to a wide group, including; vitamins, herbs, enzymes, amino acids, minerals, protein drinks, sport aids, weight loss pills, anti aging tonics etc.

According to a report in Optimum Nutrition Magazine, the nutritional supplement market in the UK in 2016 was valued at £431 million and this is expected to double in the next 5 years.

People in the U.K. take dietary supplements for a variety of different reasons. Athletes and bodybuilders may take supplements to gain performance improvements and to bulk up. Others take supplements to get protein and vitamins into their diets as part of an overall focus on a healthier lifestyle.

Pregnant and lactating women may take dietary supplements to provide enough nutrients to support their growing babies. Children from ages six months to five years may be given supplements to make certain that they are getting enough vitamins while they are growing. The government recommends that children in this age group are given supplements of vitamins A, C and D.

People also take dietary supplements to help lose weight, while older adults take supplements to help to maintain their health as they age.

This sounds and is, for the main part, acceptable. When supplements are advised and taken correctly, they can enhance an individual’s health and thus improve life outcomes and I am all for this when following an expert’s advice. However, this needs to be after a full health assessment.

What is most worrying is that I find frequently in my clinical practice individuals taking supplements for several years or maybe longer and they really have no idea the quality of the supplement they are taking (often cheap shop brand) the quantity of the ingredient dose they are taking and the risks associated with this or on the reverse that they might not be absorbing the ingredients at all.

Sadly, I have had several patients who have significant liver damage as a direct result of high dose supplementation taken for an extended period of time.

Truth be told, I am a supplement nerd and I am meticulous in sourcing the correct therapeutic supplements for each individual based on their; health, lifestyle, age, sex, metabolic status and most importantly, blood test results.


The supplements that I select are chosen because they have:

  • No nasty chemicals which can often trigger additional issues with gut/skin health.
  • Selected for optimal dosage and from natural sources so the body can absorb them easily.
  • Purest for no toxicity.
  • Dose administered to assist their optimal absorption.
  • If using several supplements they are introduced over time to monitor for any reactions.

During the time a patient is with me, bloods and symptoms are monitored to ensure health is assisted and the supplements taken for the correct time frame at the correct dose.

So where does that leave you?

For those of you that do supplements:

  • Do remember you can’t expect supplements to take care of a bad diet or lifestyle – research has proven this to be more harmful.
  • If you take supplements please do consider there are positives and negatives to these and be aware that they could be unnecessary, toxic or just making expensive urine!
  • Don’t mix food supplements and medicines.
  • Some food supplements can interact with medicines. So if you are taking any medication, seek advice from either a GP or dietitian.

Your body is like a finely tuned engine of a car – all the parts have to work in harmony to ensure you are in top gear. Too much or too little of anything and your won’t be firing on all cylinders!

If you are unsure of how to change your eating habits, or need help optimising the foods you eat please do contact us. We would love to help you or your family and friends with any nutrition related queries big or small.

In the meantime do please check out our 121Dietitian Shop

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How can a Dietitian help

Gillian x

Kristen McBurney
Kristen McBurney
I cannot recommend Gillian enough. I got in touch after struggling to lose weight due to PCOS and suffering from IBS. Thanks to Gillian, my IBS symptoms have massively reduced, and I have been able to lose a significant amount of weight. Her warmth makes you feel instantly comfortable and at ease. Gillian’s help and expertise is second to none, and she is always on hand to answer any questions. I am throughly enjoying the plan Gillian created for me and have found it easy to integrate into my everyday life. I am so grateful for the positive impact her plan has had on me.
Hannah Crothers
Hannah Crothers
Gillian is the greatest. She is compassionate and professional, really helped me to understand my body’s function and how to best support it. Her advice has changed my life.
Jay Rafferty
Jay Rafferty
I would highly recommend Gillian. Her advice and guidance has been a game changer for me. With so much conflicting and confusing advice on healthy eating, using a professional nutritionalist is a must.
Emma Lavery
Emma Lavery
I could not recommend Gillian enough over the last 3 months - she has turned my life around! I was referred to Gillian by my gastro consultant due to suffering from ibs, gastritis and hormonal issues for nearly 10 years. Gillian was very understanding and approachable throughout my time spent with her. Gillian discussed my health, lifestyle and eating habits thoroughly. She advised an individualised blood check for underlying issues, educated me on supplements and provided numerous information to help aid my recovery. The low foodmap programme I have been following is achievable and can be adapted to anyones lifestyle. As I am a vegetarian I thought this process may be difficult however Gillian reassured me that this would be no issue. She supplied personalised shopping lists, recipes and alternative foods to help heal my gut and overall health. Continual support from Gillian was on hand via email when required. I seen improvements in my symptoms within only weeks of starting the programme and was overwhelmed by the success due to suffering for years! I have been spreading the word about Gillian's brilliant work and will continue to do so! Thank you again for all your help!
mick lorkins
mick lorkins
Strongly recommended. There are not many professionals that can totally change you life for the better but this one one if you follow the advice given.
Bobby D
Bobby D
For 30 years I have suffered with IBS D and have been unable to find the right specific help. I was introduced to 121 Dietician about 6 weeks ago and like all other services out there I was sceptical. First up was a consultation online which was great considering the many issues I was having going to places. Gillian listened very attentively and understood the many problems I was having. Gillian decided to introduce me to the Low FODMAP diet. Starting out she provided everything (information, shopping lists, recipes etc) to get started. Through the course of the first 6 weeks Gillian was available to answer any questions or concerns. Following the first 6 weeks I'm very happy to say that all the many problems associated with IBS have gone and I'm starting to live a normal life without any stage fright when out and about. The next 8 weeks will be the reintroduction stage but based on the knowledge from Gillian in the initial stage I'm very confident that at the end I will have full understanding of all my triggers. I can't recommend this service enough as most importantly after 30 years of severe symptoms I once again feel healthy and happy. This is a must if you suffer continually from this horrendous condition. I would be confident that this will help anyone who has IBS. For me this was the best money ever spent and I can't thank Gillian enough for the difference she has made. Roy Dornan
Jack Kennedy
Jack Kennedy
Helped solve stomach issues, had previous been to several people but this was the first dietary intervention that worked
Laura Campbell
Laura Campbell
After over 10 years of eating quite poorly, Gillian has completely changed my approach to food. After a consultation and review of my diet, she provided me with a list of easy and quick recipes that are packed full of nutrition. She takes into consideration your lifestyle as well which I really appreciated too. I now have much more energy and actually enjoy preparing meals now, something I never did before. I honestly cannot recommend her enough. Thankyou! :-)
Chris Arnold
Chris Arnold
The overall experience was a very positive one. Gillian certainly had the expertise and people skills to help evaluate and treat my daughters gut issues. The progress was quite instantaneous and over time has made a huge difference to her everyday life. Thanks to Gillian for her work which came at the end of many doctor consultations. In hindsight Gillian should have been the first port of call.
Amelia Tyler
Amelia Tyler
Gillian is great and her program was just perfect. All the meals were delicious and I always felt satisfied which made it very easy to follow. I would highly recommend, especially the 121 sports program.


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