Q&A with Dr Tracey Smillie, creator of Nourish Yourself Well

by VitaGene Support

Whilst consulting with my patients over the years, I realised the need to truly assess nutrient and mineral levels. Often, we would dive right into the problem at hand and then at the very end I would ask what supplements they were taking, often more than not, a bag or list of vitamins appeared and for most, this needed its own addressing and consultation altogether.

I made it my purpose to continuously keep myself up to date on the latest information relating to "all things” supplements. Working in the healthcare sector, exposed to public and private care, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical arenas over a decade, I saw first-hand, the importance of laying down a good nutrient foundation. Navigating the world of vitamins is almost impossible without considering a multitude of factors. An example would be of an assessment where the patient suffered with depression, photophobia (eyes sensitive to light) with cracked and dry mucous membranes. It was noted she was taking chronic antibiotics but in turn no one had addressed that this was leading to possible low vitamin B levels, which may have been contributing to her symptoms.

Less is not more when it comes to vitamins and minerals, you may very well be getting enough nutrients from your diet and have no indication to acquire additional nutrients via supplementation, which may in fact be doing more harm than good. A simple nutrient assessment such a Nourish can address your personal vitamin and mineral needs.

Understandably there may be a few questions when it comes down to the assessment.

What is the purpose of a nutritional assessment?

A Nourish nutritional assessment is used as a tool to guide people as to their vitamin and mineral needs. A husband and wife will have different needs and therefore both taking the same multivitamin may not be suitable.

What are the benefits of a nutritional assessment?

This ensures you are not wasting money on the wrong vitamins and missing out on essential ones.

What is the first step in a nutrition assessment?

The first step is to fill in the Nourish questionnaire, it should take around 15 – 20 minutes as most options involve drop down menus and check boxes. 

What is the importance of nutrition?

Nutrition is vital in keeping our bodies functioning, the more optimal your nutrition, the more efficiently your body can function. This can reduce unwanted symptoms experienced and prevent certain illness.

How do you assess a patient’s nutrition?

Each person is assessed according to specific factors such as age, gender, lifestyle and chronic illness amongst others. These factors all have an impact on one’s specific nutritional needs and play an important role in guiding the healthcare professional to focus on specific nutrients needed. 

What are the 5 basics of nutrition?

First and foremost is consuming a broad varied diet containing good quality produce, where possible. Secondly, addressing one’s lifestyle choices such as consumption of coffee, alcohol and smoking. Thirdly, liquids and smoothies cannot be overlooked. Fourthly, calculating your personal protein need is important and finally, good nutrition can lead to prevention of health problems, which is always better than cure.

How does nutrition affect hormones?

Nutrition has a direct effect on hormones. A small change can make a big difference, for example, by taking 0.035mg of progestin daily (such as in the minipill) it can prevent pregnancy. A small hormonal shift can have such a significant impact on the body and it works the same for our vitamin and mineral levels. 

Selenium is a mineral needed for making thyroid hormones, estrogen and progesterone. A review of seven studies looking at selenium and female fertility concluded that selenium supplements could improve fertility, especially in women with low selenium levels indicating the relationship between minerals and hormones.

Who needs to take a nutritional assessment?

Almost everyone except for babies under a year.

What is the purpose of nutritional education?

Nutritional education leads to empowerment as people become more aware of their own needs and can therefore take better control of their health. Taking high dose vitamin B’s when it is not necessary can be detrimental to health in same way as not getting enough. Nutritional education needs to be continuous and filtered into areas where knowledgeable people can share healthcare advice.  

Are supplements and vitamins necessary?

Nutrient supplements have saved lives and have also been taken without any evidence of it being necessarily helpful. Therefore, assessments are important as it can give an indication whether the vitamin or mineral is possibly deficient or not.

Do supplements really work?

Not all supplements are made equally in the same way as some are highly targeted effective supplements than others. One must always ask, “why am I taking this supplement?”, “do I really need it?” and “what am I trying to achieve?”. If a supplement is needed then it is also important to investigate quality, price and availability.

What is the difference between a free assessment and Nourish assessment?

Most free assessments on the market work off a standard algorithm, you enter your information and answer a few questions and based on certain tagged responses a recommendation supplement plan is suggested. This limits the ability to truly be comprehensive and personal which you get via Nourish who use qualified healthcare professionals to manually assess your questionnaire.

What happens if you don't get enough protein?

Over time symptoms including brittle hair and nails and weakness of muscles as you lose muscle mass.

Article written by Dr Tracey Smillie
M:Tech:Hom (DUT); PGCE (UNISA- Cum Laude)
Registered Homeopathic Doctor


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