When patients ask me what are the best vitamin supplements to buy I tell them “none”
In general you are far better off investing in plenty of fruit and vegetables, combining this with a healthy balanced diet with lean meat, grains, legumes and dairy.
Vitamins by definition are essential to life. They are organic products that we cannot create on our own so we have to absorb them through our diet, or in the case of vitamin D synthesise through our skin from sunlight.
Minerals are non-organic products that are also essential for life. These come from our diet and include calcium, iron, sodium, copper and zinc (plus more).
Historically there has been a signifcant burden of disease with vitamin deficency,
some examples include:
Vitamin c – scurvy which is consequences of poor connective tissue
Vitamin d – ricketts with weak bones
Vitamin k – poor coagulation and bleeding
Vitamin B12 – anaemia
Some certain mineral deficiencies include:
Iron – anaemia
Iodine – thyroid dysfunction and goitre
Calcium – osteoporosis
I work with many patients with specific vitamin deficiencies related to a variety of medical and malabsorption states. Iron deficiency is very common and can lead to quite severe symptoms of fatigue. Certain surgeries can prevent vitamin absorption if areas of stomach or small intestine are removed. These patients will need supplementation.
People on a vegan diet can struggle to obtain enough dietary iron and calcium and have to work particularly hard on their recipes or may require supplements.
Specific medical conditions may require specific supplements but a healthy balanced diet should provide all the vitamins and minerals you need for general health.
Dr Matt Isbel