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Expert Questions

Buffered Vitamin C

Our Expert’s Answer

Jamie Christie explains…

Vitamin C is ascorbic acid which is commonly found in fruit and vegetables especially citrus fruits. It is an essential vitamin for humans and cannot be manufactured in the body so it has to be provided through our diets and the food we each.

Ascorbic acid as the name suggests is acidic and when dissolved in water has a PH of 5. Ascorbic acid is available naturally in its pure form and also combined with minerals such as calcium ascorbate.

Calcium ascorbate has a PH of 7.4 when dissolved in water which means it is very slightly alkali. Calcium ascorbate is simple to produce, calcium carbonate is mixed with ascorbic acid in solution under controlled conditions, the solution is then dried leaving pure calcium ascorbate crystals.

Many companies have started to use calcium ascorbate if their food supplements due to its lower acid content which users often find to be easier to digest and gentle in the stomach.

Care needs to be taken to ensure fully reacted calcium ascorbate is requested as a short cut is it to simply blend dry calcium carbonate with ascorbic acid, however this does not give the required buffering effect.

There are branded and generic forms of buffered Vitamin C the most popular being Ester C, which is backed by extensive clinical research.

Jamie Christie

Nutritional Biochemist, Industry consultant on supplements

I don’t know what to think anymore. Can people get everything they need in their diet?

Our Expert’s Answer

Angela Dowden explains…

I understand your confusion –  everyone’s a nutrition expert these days it seems! I think the straightest answer is that while it’s possible for many people to get the full recommendation of all vitamins and minerals from their diet, not everyone does, and almost certainly not every day. The government’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey gives a good clue as to the nutrients and groups that are of most concern – these include vitamin D for every age group, magnesium  (low in 25 percent of women aged 19-64) and iron, also low across age groups but particularly in women and girls. Worryingly  in women of childbearing age, 89 percent also have  a red blood cell  folate concentration low enough to put them at increased risk of giving birth to a baby with a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida. Vegans, or those with more plant-focused diets will also not be getting vitamin B12 from their diet. Experts have varying opinions on how to correct micronutrient deficiencies, but a good multivitamin (check it has at least 10 micrograms of vitamin D) is one of the most practical and simple ways to ensure the gaps get filled. But it really is essential that this strategy is combined with a balanced diet rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables, and that also includes some dairy, or else a calcium and vitamin B12-fortified plant alternative.

Angela Dowden

Freelance health journalist / registered nutritionist

I can’t be bothered to cook anymore. Help!

Our Expert’s Answer

Ben Brown explains…

If you’re lacking motivation to cook and prepare foods, setting goals can be very helpful. A great goal that simplifies things is to eat more variety in your diet, it will get you eating more healthy food, widening your nutrient intake, and push poor food choices out of your diet without you realising it. Try aiming for four different fruits and vegetables daily, and four different types of fresh or dried herbs and spices each day. Write them down and make it a personal daily challenge.  If you want to really get some culinary inspiration, then why not go global?  Choose a different country for each day of the week, and learn about some new cooking traditions and methods, not to mention new flavours and textures. Food variety is so important because research shows that those who have lower variety and lack the motivation to cook consume lower levels of important minerals, vitamins, and antioxidant nutrients. All the best!

I want to try water only fasting. Can you tell me more please?

Jayney Goddard

Our Expert’s Answer

Jayney Goddard explains…

“Water-only fasting – as the name suggests is where you only drink water and take no food whatsoever and, most importantly, you must take complete bed rest.  Here are a few water-fasting do’s and don’ts.  Firstly, Don’t attempt a fast by yourself – you must be supervised by an expert. This is important as you might need someone to check in with as you progress through this kind of fast. It’s also essential to get clear instructions and guidelines. A practitioner will be able to make sure that you’re thoroughly prepared at every stage. Do check to see if you are suited to fasting – it is not for everyone and there are some conditions for which water-only fasting is contra-indicated. Finally, do rest completely if fasting.”

Lockdown is really getting me down now. What can help?

Miguel Toribio-Mateas

Our Expert’s Answer

Miguel Toribio-Mateus suggests… 

“Listening to any type of music that you can connect with so that it helps you become calmer, more relax, or to disconnect from your daily sources of stress has been seen to do a number of things to the immune system; it directly affects stress hormone levels, e.g. cortisol, as well as immunoglobulins, proteins that play a role in maintaining healthy immunity. This is not 2020 “new age” stuff. The authors of a clinical trial published in the Journal of Music Therapy back in 2007 looking at the effects of music on anxiety levels concluded that “music is as effective as diazepam” in reducing vital signs of anxiety. 

If you find that listening to Metallica makes you feel all mellow and fuzzy inside, then that’s the album you need on repeat. Some will prefer Mozart, and some will prefer house music. Whatever it is that takes you out of that stress / anxiety zone, that’s the kind of music that works for you.”

How much vitamin D is safe to take?

Jamie Christie

Our Expert’s Answer

Jamie Christie

“The Government advice is to take 10 micrograms daily, especially if you’re one of the many people who spend a lot of time indoors, or didn’t manage to get out into the sunshine much this summer (many of us were in lockdown, so might not have ventured out quite so much). This is in addition to the amount that we typically get from foods in the diet. Food sources include fatty fish and seafood, mushrooms, eggs, fortified foods such as cereals, and red meats.

It’s good to have a wide variety of these in the diet.  We know from research studies that a safe upper limit for supplementation is 75micrograms daily, and you might like to speak with a practitioner about the level of vitamin D that’s most suitable for you (especially if you’ve been tested and are vitamin D deficient).

Ask in your local health store about which different vitamin D supplements are available, including those suitable for vegetarians and vegans.”

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