One in three Brits now take a daily nutritional supplement. And the UK vitamins, herbs, enzymes, amino acids and minerals market is estimated to have netted and incredible £442million last year alone, according to research by Mintel.
Yet when it comes to NHS guidelines, the Department of Health only recommends vitamin D during winter, folic acid in early pregnancy and, for children aged six months to five years, daily vitamin A, C and D, adding that most people should get all the nutrients they need by having a varied and balanced diet.
So what supplements do medical professionals believe are worth paying for? We asked a group of doctors and health experts which pills they pop.
Dr Miriam Stoppard, GP and medical writer
I’ve never been keen on taking vitamins or supplements of any kind unless there’s a medical need for them.
I know this is boring but I need to know there’s proof that something is effective before I’m prepared to take it.
With supplements there’s really no scientific evidence they work, so I pass.
One of my major reasons for not taking them is that the body isn’t designed to absorb our essential nutrients in tablet or capsule form.
They simply pass through the intestine and are excreted.
Vitamins and essential minerals must be part of the hundreds of micronutrients that are found in foods in order for the body to use them.
My own preference is to use foods as ‘supplements’, including Brazil nuts for selenium, broccoli for calcium, dark green leaves for iron and folic acid, oily fish for omega 3, avocado for omega 6, eggs for the B vitamins, bananas for potassium, seafood for zinc and iodine, yellow/orange fruit and veg for betacarotene, tomatoes for lycopene, mushrooms for chromium… The list goes on and on.