Simon Bandy: Do we really need vitamin supplements?

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Nutritionist Simon Bandy from Seaford-based Health Plus gives his opinion on the importance of supplements

IN recent years there have been several scientific studies carried out into the effectiveness of vitamin supplements, which more often than not tend to offer positive results. Scientific studies available which prove the effectiveness of taking a vitamin supplement include a recent report from King’s College London, which states that Vitamin D has the potential to significantly reduce the symptoms of asthma, whilst Oxford University found that B Vitamins can help to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. There are also many case studies available from people who have found improved health after taking a vitamin supplement.

However, the latest study to attract media attention comes from the University of Glasgow and the University of Aberdeen, which found that voles fed high doses of Vitamin E and C lived for a shorter time than those given a regular diet. This has brought about much debate in the public domain about the effectiveness of vitamins.

I have often been quoted in national newspapers giving my opinion on the topic, and therefore felt it only right for my latest blog post to focus on the great vitamin debate.

So, do we really need supplements?

Personally, I think that taking a vitamin supplement isn’t a replacement for food, but it acts as an insurance policy, because people who buy them want to ensure they are receiving the correct nutrients. Some of the foods found in the supermarkets tends to be force grown and mass produced to feed an ever-growing population, which means it often doesn’t contain the right level of nutrients that one would expect to find, particularly in fresh fruit and vegetables.

There are also lots of people in society who really could benefit from taking a vitamin supplement. For example, menopausal women, for whom taking a supplement such as Vitamin C can be beneficial as it is crucial for the manufacture of collagen, which makes up 90% of our bone structure and helps skin maintain its elasticity, as well as helping to prevent bruising.

Likewise, elderly people can benefit from taking Vitamin D, which not only helps to reduce the symptoms of asthma, but can also help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer. With a lack of sunshine in the UK (this summer being a rare exception), many people are deficient in this vitamin, found naturally in sunlight, and can therefore benefit from taking it in supplement form.

It’s also important for pregnant women to take multivitamins which include folic acid for healthy foetal growth, and iodine, which can affect foetal brain development.

Ultimately it is down to the individual to decide whether or not they need to take a vitamin supplement, depending on the needs of their health. Many people benefit from taking vitamin supplements, and taking them in recommended doses has never been proven to create negative effects, therefore, surely it is worth giving them a try to see if they help with your specific lifestyle.

Simon Bandy is a natural supplements expert for Health Plus; a Seaford based business established over 20 years ago with a mission to promote optimum nutrition across the world. Family-owned and run since November 1991, the company supplies a wide range of British made, high quality nutritional supplements at www.healthplus.co.uk