Taking every supplement under the sun? We got the lowdown from our pharmacists as to which supplements you should really be taking on a daily basis
When it comes to taking vitamins and supplements, there’s really only one question you need to ask yourself — do I really need them? We all need certain vitamins and nutrients to keep our bodies functioning and our immune system healthy. But more often than not, bad diets, busy lifestyles and hectic social lives mean that we don’t get the daily vitamins and minerals we need — our immune system then starts to suffer as a result.
So, if you’re not getting the nutrients you need through your diet, the likelihood is you may need to take a multivitamin or supplement to keep your body topped up. That way, you avoid becoming vitamin deficient and reduce your risk of developing further health issues.
But how many should you take?
Our pharmacists recommend taking at least one multivitamin per day, alongside a healthy, balanced diet. In theory, if you are getting all the nutrients you need, then you don’t need to take extra supplements at all. You only need to take them if you are diagnosed as vitamin deficient.
Our advice is to consult your doctor. They will run a blood test to decipher whether you need to take additional supplements. If your levels of vitamin D or iron, for example, are low, they will recommend a specific supplement to bring you up to the daily recommended requirement.
Usually one supplement per day is all you need, depending on what you are deficient in. If you are suffering with multiple deficiencies, then you will need to take a supplement to treat each individual imbalance.
These are the essential vitamins recommended by our pharmacists:
If your diet isn’t quite as healthy as you’d like, taking a multivitamin a day will help to fill in any nutritional gaps where your body is lacking. Studies have shown that multivitamins can increase energy levels, improve your mood, keep your skin healthy, reduce stress and anxiety, improve short-term memory, support healthy muscle function and boost your immune system to help ward off illness.
Try Centrum Advance which targets all of the above.
See all our multivitamins and supplements
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. This is because it’s not easy to get vitamin D from foods — it’s produced in the body mainly through sunlight exposure, so if you’re not getting enough sun, you’re at risk of becoming deficient.
Vitamin D promotes healthy bone growth. If you are deficient, your bones can become weak and brittle, making you more at risk of developing osteoporosis. You only need to get 10 minutes of sunlight per day to get your daily dose, but you can also eat fatty fish like salmon or tuna, as well as beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks to up your daily vitamin D dosage. You can also take a daily supplement to increase your levels.
Although researchers recognise its role in bone health, vitamin D also keeps the immune system healthy and strong so it can fight off illnesses like colds and flu. It’s also been linked to help with weight loss and mood regulation.
Try Swisse Ultiboost Vitamin D
Anyone suffering with an iron deficiency will experience unpleasant symptoms like tiredness, poor concentration and frequent bouts of illness. It’s not easy to spot in its early stages, but if it’s left untreated it can develop into a more serious condition known as iron deficiency anemia (IDA). If you’re worried, visit your doctor so they can run a blood test to check your iron levels.
You shouldn’t take iron supplements unless advised by your doctor. Iron supplements typically contain high doses of iron, which can cause digestive issues and reduce the absorption of other nutrients in your gut, so it’s recommended to speak to your healthcare provider before you start taking additional supplements.
If they find your iron levels are low, they will recommend a regular supplement to bring your levels back up.
Try BioCeuticals Liquid Iron
If you're vegan, you can take a B12 supplement instead. Try Thompson’s Ultra B12
Vitamin C is a well known immune booster. If you’re lacking in vitamin C, you are more prone to getting sick. Eating foods rich in vitamin C like oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli will help to keep illnesses at bay. It’s recommended to up your daily intake through foods, because your body doesn’t produce or store it naturally. The good news is that vitamin C is found in so many foods that most people don’t need to take a supplement unless a doctor advises it.
If they do, try Bioglan’ s Vitamin C Forte
Whilst a supplement won’t stop you from catching a cold, research has shown that taking a daily vitamin C supplement can decrease the length of your cold symptoms, so a supplement could help you recover much quicker.
When it comes to gut health, it pays to eat right. The foods and nutrients we consume play a huge role in our overall health. You are essentially what you feed the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut, so it’s important to make sure that you’re feeding it correctly. Studies have shown that specific types of bacteria in the gut can lead to a number of health issues including low immune function, allergies, chronic illness (such as heart disease and diabetes) as well as anxiety and depression.
If you need to replace the good bacteria after taking antibiotics (taking antibiotics can wipe out the good bacteria in your gut) or if you suffer with ongoing stomach issues, a daily probiotic or food naturally rich in bacteria, such as yogurt, will replace the live bacteria and yeasts that your digestive system needs to feed on to keep your immune system healthy.
Try Inner Health On the Go to help with general gut health
Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. 99% of the calcium in the human body is found in the bones and teeth. It’s also important for your heart muscles and nerves to function properly. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body will take it from your bones, causing your bones to become weak. This also increases your risk of developing osteoporosis — a condition where your bones become weak, brittle and easy to fracture.
Your body doesn’t produce calcium so you have to rely on your diet to get the calcium you need. Calcium-rich foods including dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt, dark green vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli, white beans, sardines, calcium-fortified breads, cereals, soy products and orange juices. If you are deficient in calcium, you can also take a daily supplement to help keep your bones healthy and strong.
Loved our advice on taking supplements? We've got plenty more health advice on our Health & Wellness Edit, guaranteed to give your body a well-deserved boost. Looking for advice as to whether it's safe to take your friend's antibiotics? Plus, if your joint point is spiralling out of control, take a look at our handy guide to keeping your bones healthy and strong.