The Spa Spies try health supplements


From cod liver oil to menopause support and evening primrose oil to zinc, this Spa Spy downs a cocktail of vitamins every morning to top up when life falls short of the holy five-a-day grail. But inadvertently doubling up can do more harm than good, putting a question mark over the validity of vitamins which - let’s face it - aren’t cheap to begin with.

What if there was a more efficient way to get what we need? We asked the Spa Spies to try a range of supplements - from anti-ageing collagen capsules to Lion’s Mane drops - and pen their thoughts…

Absolute Collagen
(14 x 10ml sachets, £33.99; £53.98 for 28-day subscription)


Key ingredients:
Hydrolysed Marine collagen (65%), water, orange juice concentrate, citric acid, vitamin C, 7.7g of protein, natural flavourings, sweetener.

First impressions:
The bright yellow box - with metallic bronze logo - holds 14x twist-and-tear sachets containing 8000mg of amber-coloured liquid collagen (the most your body can absorb at one time). They’re infused with vitamin C to ensure optimal absorption.

What’s it like?
The daily doses come in three flavours: raspberry, mango and mandarin, and lemon. The scent is pleasant but, if you’re funny about textures, the high viscosity of the gel means you may not wish to squeeze it straight into your mouth; mix it into your morning smoothie instead.  

Does it work?
Once we hit 30, we start to lose around 1-2% of our collagen supplies each year, waving goodbye to smooth skin, and healthy hair and nails. Sigh. Now approaching perimenopause, I’m keen to do all I can to support my body, and merrily worked my way through three boxes with my fingers crossed.

Verdict:
Although it’s early days, my skin feels a little plumper; my nails are stronger, and my hairdresser commented on how much my hair had grown. Coincidence? Maybe. But Absolute Collagen has earned its place in my gentle-ageing armour.

OTO sleep drops
(15ml, £69)



Key ingredients:
Plant actives infused with 50mg’s of CBD oil, mint flavouring.

First impressions:
OTO’s sleep drops come in an attractive white bottle with gold lettering on the front and OTO’s logo underneath. Pull the white top off and use the pipette underneath to squeeze one or two droplets onto your tongue around 20 minutes before bed.

What’s it like?
The taste is more musty than minty but certainly not offensive. The optimum strength CBD (the highest permitted) gets to work right away, quietening the mind and helping you drift off to sleep naturally.

Does it work?
It does, almost as well as a sleeping pills but without any of the side effects. With hot flushes regularly disturbing sleep these days, they didn’t keep me in snooze-land for the recommended eight hours but did help me doze off without thinking about the day ahead (which often happens).

Verdict:
Whilst the drops we tried are somewhat on the expensive side, you can now buy miniature versions (3.5ml, £16.50) that are perfect for taking abroad and beating jet-lag. They work better than most natural sleep remedies on the market, are full of natural ingredients and are vegan, too.

Symprove
(4 x 500ml bottles of mango and passionfruit flavour, £39.99 per month for three months)

Key ingredients: 
Water, extract of germinated barley, four live strains of good bacteria.

First impressions: 
The white and minty green box with swirly pattern contains four plastic bottles of Symprove to last four weeks. The apple juice-coloured liquid will live happily in a cool cupboard until opened, then pop it in the fridge and consume within 10 days.

What's it like? 
Ten minutes before breakfast and morning coffee, shake the bottle, pour a 70ml shot and down it in one go to deliver 10 billion colony-forming bacteria straight to the gut. The sour taste is non-offensive and apple cider vinegar-like; it’s also dairy and gluten free, vegan-friendly with no artificial colourings.

Does it work? 
Unlike dairy-based or powder supplements, this water-based bacteria fix doesn’t trigger digestion so it can reach your gut alive and kicking. Over the four months of regular shots, I was bug free and felt pretty energised.

Verdict: 
One of the take-homes from Goodwood’s gut retreat was to feed my microbiome a vast variety of bacteria – pre- and pro-biotics included - to keep my brain and immune system fighting fit. With poor gut health being linked to chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease, depression and dementia, this is one supplement I can’t afford not to take.

My-Shrooms Lion’s Mane Tincture
(50ml, £25)

Key ingredients:
1:4 ratio of Lion’s Mane mushroom to water and alcohol (30%).

First impressions:
Lion’s Mane Tincture (drops to you and me) come in a brown glass bottle with an attractive label across the middle and a squeezy pipette top. Put five drops into your morning smoothie, coffee or water first thing, then pop it in the fridge to keep it cool.

What’s it like?
The amber liquid comes out quickly so go easy on the pipette if you don’t want to waste it; there’s no taste unless you drop it directly onto your tongue (which we don't recommend unless you are on the move).

Does it work?
As the parent of a tween with ADHD (it’s hailed as a natural alternative to Adderol) and someone in a menopausal funk, I have been dishing these drops out to family members for months. My daughter’s mood seems brighter, and I’m able to enter a room and not wonder what I came in for. 

Verdict:
Easy-to-use, tasteless, long-lasting and multi-functional, the benefits of using Lion’s Mane on a daily basis definitely outweigh the cost – and when it comes to brain health, can we really afford not to?

Elemis Pro-Collagen Skin Future anti-ageing skincare supplement
(60 capsules, £75)

Key ingredients:
Hyaluronic acid, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C.

First impressions:
These easy-to-swallow capsules come in an attractive glass bottle with cool blue Elemis label across the front and silver screw lid.

What’s it like?
Each moss-hued plastic capsule is just large enough to not lose down the sink whilst slipping down easily with a sip of water. We found it easy to incorporate it into our usual rath of one-a-day vitamins.

Does it work?
With just a handful of the 60 capsules left in the jar, I’m definitely on the hunt for more. Not only does collagen improve skin tone whilst fighting the ageing process, but it’s great for menopausal bone health, too - the joints in my hands and wrists ache less, and my knees don’t sound like bags of loose change when I’m walking up the stairs.

Verdict:
At £75 for 60 capsules, there are certainly cheaper ways of adding collagen to your daily routine, but the addition of anti-ageing Hyaluronic acid, bug-busting zinc and winter-necessary vitamin C (coupled with the assurance that comes with buying from a known brand), makes it a good investment.

Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful Organic Scottish Seaweed: Pure Seaweed  
(30x 500mg capsules, £14)



Key ingredients:
PureSea® Organic Hebridean Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed powder, organic vegan capsules.

First impressions:
The white, blue and green box – with playful seaweed image – contains two foil strips of 15x gold-coloured pure seaweed powder-filled capsules. On the back is a message from founder Dr Craig Rose PHD (aka Doctor Seaweed), a marine biologist with a passion for natural plant-based nutrition.

What’s it like?
Pop out a pill each day and take with food for a natural source of Iodine; each tablet provides similar levels to a portion of haddock, apparently. There’s no obvious taste but a faint waft of seaweed – which was un-offensive. They’re gluten free and vegan with no artificial binders.

Does it work?
Having been diagnosed with hypothyroid disease for over a decade – cue weight gain, fatigue and dry skin - I was keen to find out if these actually work. I took a tablet each day with breakfast and waited patiently for my brain fog to evaporate and my twenty-something metabolism to return.

Verdict:
It’s been a busy month at GSG HQ but my brain has remained sharp and focused. Having learned that the thyroid uses iodine to make thyroid hormones – which aid a whole host of bodily functions – Hebridean seaweed could well be a gamechanger.

Stylish_Spa_Spy
  • Author

    Stylish Spy

  • Age 40-something
  • Skin type Sensitive

Spa Likes

"Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching."

Spa Dislikes

"Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones."