There are so many different vitamin supplements on the market, so it is often hard to know what we really need and what is simply a fad. With a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, most of the ‘fad’ vitamins simply aren’t needed. However, there are a few staple vitamins that we should take to help boost our health. Below are a few of these staples that we should be taking, particularly as certain supplements can greatly help those at risk of deficiency. Taking any supplements long-term can have risks so ensure to discuss any long-term use with a doctor.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids that are found in high strength fish oil have been well studied, and are known to contribute to the normal functioning of the heart, as well as normal brain function and vision, normal blood pressure and skin health. Omega-3 can be found in fish and other seafood, especially cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. If your diet consists of plentiful amounts of fish, then fish oils may not be necessary, although they would be good for you. However, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, or eat low amounts or no fish, then taking high strength fish oil is important.
Considered to be a pregnancy superhero, taking folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects on your baby’s brain and spinal cord. This is especially important in the first trimester of pregnancy. Folic acid can be found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, brown rice and bread and breakfast cereals fortified with folic acid. Ensure you eat plenty of these during pregnancy, however folic acid supplements are required as it would be near impossible to get enough folic acid through eating these foods alone. Taking a supplement is an easy way to ensure you are taking the right amount. For more information visit the NHS website.
Some groups are at particular risk of not getting enough vitamin D, such as babies and children from newborn to age four, as well as people who are not often exposed to the sun, for example people who are in care homes, or who are housebound. Everyone over the age of five years are encouraged to take a daily vitamin D supplement. The benefits of vitamin D are that it helps to maintain healthy bones and teeth, supports the immune system and also supports lung function and cardiovascular health as well as many others. The list is endless!
Studies have suggested that zinc can be effective in shortening a cold. The minerals seem to interfere with the bugs that cause the common cold, which in turn leads to shorter colds and less severe symptoms. It can also regulate immune function and improve learning and memory.
The body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones, as well as maintaining healthy functioning of the heart. Calcium can be found in dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, as well as seafood, greens, dried fruit and tofu. If you don’t eat enough calcium, the body takes calcium out of the bones which in turn, makes them weak. If you have a low dairy diet, or are vegan, then calcium supplements are really important.
So, although there are a lot of supplements on the market, they are not all necessary. Eating a balanced diet and filling in the gaps with these supplements will keep you healthy and strong. Once again, if you think you aren’t getting enough of these vitamins, contact a doctor to find the right options for you.