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All you need to know about Vitamin Supplements
You can find everything you need to know about what vitamins you need to take each day, and in what amounts, in our vitamin glossary. Below, we answer some of the FAQs we most often get asked in relation to vitamin supplements.
Are vitamin supplements good for you?
Supplements of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are good for you if you have trouble getting a balanced diet. For some people there is a clear need for supplementation – this could be due to a dietary restriction or a condition that prevents the creation of certain nutrients in the body. For many of us, vitamin supplements would be beneficial, even if we feel like we are eating healthily, because of changes to how we eat in modern times.
So much has changed as human life has evolved and nothing reflects this more so than our diets. 50 years ago most people were eating home-cooked meals two or three times a day but now so many of us are living on pre-packed sandwiches for lunch and takeaways for dinner. The result of this shift is that our bodies don’t always get all the nutrients they need each day. This manifests in numerous ways, including general tiredness, pale skin or a weakened immune system. If you want advice on what vitamin supplements to take based on your diet, you should speak to your GP.
Should I take vitamin supplements?
The best way to figure out whether or not you should be taking vitamin supplements is to start a food diary and use it to identify all the vitamins contained in the food you consume. You can then compare this list to the recommended daily amounts to work out where adjustments can be made to incorporate any missing vitamins. Alternatively if you don't want to change your diet, you'll know which vitamins are missing and which supplements to take. If you think you might have a deficiency then you can speak to your GP about getting tested.
How are vitamin supplements made?
High-quality vitamin supplements are typically grown in yeast or algae. This process helps to improve the bioavailability when ingested. Recently, there has also been a move towards ‘food-grown’ vitamin supplements. Instead of cultivating the specific nutrient in yeast, these vitamins are made by cultivating the nutrient via a food source. For example, vitamin D can be made from mushrooms as they are a rich source. This process has been found to further increase the bioavailability of vitamin supplements once ingested, but it is harder to cultivate really high-strength food-grown vitamins.
What is the best vitamin supplement to take?
The best vitamin supplement to take is one that includes the vitamin or vitamins (and other nutrients) that you are not able to get from food as part of your regular diet. You should also aim for supplements from brands that make their vitamin supplements from high-quality ingredients.
Why do some vitamin supplements contain more than the RDA?
RDA stands for Recommended Daily Allowance. It is the suggested amount of each nutrient you should aim to consume each day, based on what your body needs to function healthily. You’ll notice a lot of vitamin supplements promise to provide more than 100% of the RDA for many of the nutrients they contain. This is often necessary because if the body is deficient in a nutrient then it needs more of it in order to restore to a reasonable level. In addition, the body doesn’t always manage to perfectly utilise the nutrients it gets access to and so some of the nutrients that we ingest, either in foods or in supplements, go to waste.