A third of us take a vitamin supplement daily – but it could be a waste of money, warns new research.
Health-conscious Britons spent an estimated £ 442 million last year on a variety of supplements, including fish oils, multivitamins, enzymes and amino acids.
They claim to improve almost every aspect of your health, from relieving pain to strengthening your immune system.
But an investigation by Consumer Magazine Which? found, some are just a waste of money. Today, Mr. Money looks at the results.
Do I need a supplement?
People who cut out certain foods, follow a restricted diet or have a specific need for certain nutrients may benefit from supplements.
However, the Ministry of Health recommends only vitamin D in winter and folate for pregnant women.
Children between six months and five years should take an A, C and D multivitamin.
Vitamin D supplements are recommended as it is difficult to get enough of the two available natural sources, food and sunlight.
It keeps our immune system healthy and also helps to absorb calcium and phosphate, keeping bones, teeth and muscles in good condition.
People who are at particular risk, such as the elderly, people who are not in the open air and those with darker skin tones, should take supplements throughout the year.
We need vitamin D for a healthy immune system and for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
Everyone should take 10mcg Vitamin D in the fall and winter.
Risk groups should last throughout the year.
RISKS: It can reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure medicines and statins.
And other vitamins?
Beyond Vitamin D, when you are healthy and well-balanced, it is difficult to experience other nutrients such as A, B and C vitamins.
If you eat red meat, dairy products, and green leafy vegetables, you'll probably get enough iron and calcium.
Diets that are high in fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers. However, there are no indications that multivitamin supplements have the same benefits.
Fruits and vegetables also contain fiber and other beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants and flavonoids.
Omega-3 fish oils contain fatty acids known as EPA and DHA, which have proven to be beneficial. However, you can get them by eating two servings of fish per week, including oily ones like salmon, trout or mackerel.
Cod liver oil is a good source of vitamins A and D and also contains EPA and DHA. However, his reputation for reducing muscle pain, joint pain and stiffness has not been proven.
ALTHOUGH multivitamins are the most popular supplements, and most of us manage to get enough vitamins and minerals from the food we eat.
RISKS: You can not use multivitamins to replace a healthy diet
Research shows that they do not have the same benefit.
Can they cause damage?
The study also found that some supplements were not only unnecessary but potentially harmful.
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For example, too much Vitamin D over an extended period of time can lead to an accumulation of calcium in the body, which can weaken bones and damage the kidneys and heart.
The government recommends taking only 10mcg daily. But which one? found that pills were sold at much higher doses than this.
Myvitamins Vitamin D3 capsules contain 62.5 mg, while BetterYou DLux 3000 contains 75 ml of daily Vitamin D Mouth Spray per spray.
Although overdose is a way that vitamins and supplements can do more harm than good, even standard doses can disrupt the way prescription medicines work.
Vitamin D, cod liver oil, omega-3 oils and glucosamine can interfere with medications for many conditions including high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.
The fish oils EPA and DHA have proven to be beneficial.
However, if you eat two servings of fish a week, one of them oily, you will get everything you need.
If you are not eating greasy fish, you should consider omega-3 supplements
RISKS: May interact with blood-thinning medications and high blood pressure medications.
So you can not trust labels?
Be doubtful – especially because they do not always do what they say.
Glucosamine is included in supplements for joint health, mobility and flexibility, but there is not enough evidence that it helps with any of these medicines and there are no approved health claims.
The packaging of Bioglan Glucosamine Plus states that the supplement contributes "to support bone health, cartilage health and energy metabolism".
In fact, all these claims are based on the inclusion of vitamin C in the supplement, which is essentially the active ingredient.
Bioglan Glucosamine Plus costs £ 14.99 for 30 tablets. Switching to Boots Vitamin C 200mg tablets (99p for 30 tablets) would save over £ 350 a year.
Of course, getting enough vitamin C and removing the supplements altogether would save you even more, he said.
THIS is found in supplements for joint health, but it has not worked.
Such health claims are based on vitamin C, which is usually added to glucosamine supplements.
Vitamin C deficiency is rare.
RISKS: Glucosamine can interact with drugs for blood thinning and diabetes.