Dietary supplements are becoming increasingly popular, with a huge variety of different types now on the market. Many people take supplements as part of their diet, in the hope they will help them to achieve optimal health. Some supplements are targeted at people who simply want to boost their uptake of certain vitamins or minerals, whereas others claim to help improve specific problems like hair loss or fatigue. But should we all be considering adding supplements to our diets?
The NHS states that most people should be able to get all the vitamins and minerals they need from eating a healthy, balanced diet.
But if you have a deficiency in a specific vitamin or mineral, you could consider taking supplements of that vitamin or mineral in order to get the required amount.
In winter, there is one vitamin supplement health officials recommend everyone consider taking. This vitamin is vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body – nutrients which are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to a deficiency, which can cause bone deformities and bone pain.
The main source of vitamin D is sunlight, which provides enough of the vitamin for most people in the spring and summer.
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight, when the sun shines on the skin when outdoors.
However, in the autumn and winter, there is not enough sunlight for most people to get adequate levels of the essential vitamin.
Vitamin D is found in some foods, such as oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods.
However, the vitamin D found in food is not usually enough to get the recommended 10 micrograms per day.
For this reason, the UK Department of Health recommends everyone consider taking a vitamin D supplement during the colder months.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people. Don’t take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful.
“Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body,” warned the NHS.
“This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.”
People who don’t get out in the sun much in the spring and summer may wish to take vitamin D supplements all year round.
As well as people who are housebound or just don’t go outside much, this also includes people who usually wear clothes that cover up most of the skin when outdoors, as this prevents the skin from being able to absorb the vitamin.