The supplements market is increasing in size, with various brands releasing new products claiming to achieve a whole host of benefits from weight loss to hair growth. There is also a huge range of vitamin supplements aimed at people wanting to increase their vitamin uptake. Various celebrities and fitness fanatics endorse different supplements, giving the impression stocking up on vitamins can provide optimum health. But what is the advantage of taking vitamin supplements and should we really be taking them?
According to the NHS, most people should be able to get all the vitamins and minerals they need from eating a healthy, balanced diet.
So providing your diet is not lacking any essential vitamins or minerals, there should be no need to take supplements.
However, if you are deficient in a particular vitamin, or at risk of deficiency, taking supplements to make up for the lost nutrients may be advisable.
“Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients, such as iron, calcium and vitamin C, that your body needs in small amounts to work properly,” said the NHS.
“Most people don’t need to take vitamin supplements and are able to get all the vitamins and minerals they need by eating a healthy, balanced diet.
“Many people choose to take supplements, but taking too much or taking them for too long could be harmful.
“The Department of Health recommends certain supplements for some groups of people who are at risk of deficiency.”
One vitamin supplement that is recommended for some people is vitamin D – but how do you know if you are at risk of vitamin D deficiency?
The main source of vitamin D is sunlight, which during the spring and summer months provides enough of the vitamin for most people.
But people who are not often exposed to the sun may not get enough of the essential vitamin.
This includes those who are housebound or in care homes, or people who usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors.
For this reason, those people are advised to take daily vitamin D supplements.
In the autumn and winter, the Department of Health advises everyone take daily vitamin D supplements.
This is because there is not enough sunlight to get adequate doses of vitamin D during the colder months.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people, according to the NHS.
Don’t take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful.