Look in your kitchen or bathroom cupboard and the chances are there’s a half-used jar or two of vitamins in there. Most of us know that vitamins are medically important for our health – but which do doctors actually recommend we take regularly as supplements?
A balanced approach to vitamins
For most people, most of the time, a well-balanced diet combined with sensible exposure to sunlight will produce all the vitamins they need naturally. Vitamins can’t truly replace a balanced diet. So apart from those mentioned below, most GPs only recommend vitamin supplements on a case-by-case basis – for example those with restricted diets or certain medical conditions.
But be careful with fizzy vitamins – they often contain salt
Effervescent vitamin supplements can contain large amounts of salt – sometimes as much salt as in 2 bags of crisps! That’s because of the sodium bicarbonate which enables them to fizz and dissolve. Always check the label and consider changing to a normal tablet - especially if your salt intake is already high.
The vitamins GPs recommend taking
Who? Everyone aged 1 and over.
When? Daily – in Autumn and Winter.
It’s now clear that the amount and strength of the sun in the winter months is not enough to produce all the vitamin D we need. It’s also very hard to get it from diet alone. So the advice is that everyone takes at least 10 mcg daily.
Who else? Those with a higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency. When? Daily – all year round.
The following people should consider taking Vitamin D all-year-round: People with dark skin. People who cover all their face and skin when outside. People who get less exposure to the sun due to their age or physical condition.
Vitamins A, C and D.
Who? ALL Children aged from 6 months to 5 years When? Daily – all year round.
Essentially a precaution, this is to make sure that growing children – especially those who are fussy eaters or don’t get a varied diet – receive all the vitamins they need.
Folic Acid. Who? Pregnant women. When? Daily – from conception to 12 weeks of their pregnancy.
All women thinking of having a baby should take Folic Acid up to week 12 of the pregnancy.
Reviewed by: Asimah Hanif, Lead GP, Livi