Vitamin supplements, do we need them?

Google these questions and scroll down hundreds of Yes/ No answers; depending on the source of the article and what they stand to get out of it!

According to some reports multivitamins are toxic, you are in danger of overdosing on vitamin C and D, and if you take too many supplements you will combust (OK, I exaggerated, sorry!)

The evidence…

There have been lots of tests carried out over the years to try to conclude this once and for all but, try as they might there is still a lack of evidence either way.

Most studies will involve a large group of people who are normally well nourished and healthy anyway. Some of them take a vitamin pill, others take a placebo. But, as these studies have to be followed over a long period of time many people drop out so an accurate report isn’t easy to get.

Other studies have found that even elite athletes who have their food worked out for them by a team of highly qualified scientists will lack at least 13 vitamins or minerals. Taking a multivitamin supplement will help to fill in the gaps.

The general contentious is that daily vitamin pills don’t stop people developing serious health problems but can help with the nutrition levels of people with severe nutrition deficiency.

What I would say is to have a look at the food you eat on a daily basis. No pill can cover everything that our body needs; we are extremely complex and need a variety of vitamins and minerals to survive.

Many, many people take a multivitamin tablet (I really don’t know how they manage to swallow them, most are the size of a rugby ball!) or a supplement of some kind and swear by it. Far from me to say stop taking them, they’re rubbish. The power of the mind is amazing; even if the effects are a placebo, if you feel better for taking them, continue to do so.

Some supplements extract their nutrients from foods such as vitamin A and D extracted from fish oils, other supplements are made in laboratories which may be labelled “natural” as they are made from “natural” precursors. If you need more fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K its best to get them from sources where they are present in fats, oils or oil capsules rather than tablet or pills.

Confucius, he say, “If diet is not correct, medicine is of no use; if diet is correct, medicine is of no need”. He didn’t say that but I bet he wished he had!

There is an APP called My Fitness Pal, this can be very helpful to see if you are getting a good balance of vitamins and minerals in your daily diet. You can then see if you are lacking and include food groups that provide the missing links.

My husband is conducting a little experiment, not with interesting looking bubbling test tubes and dry ice unfortunately but he did meticulously log in everything he ate and drank for a month and saw that he was lacking in certain vitamins. He has started to take a daily rugby ball and will see if this makes any improvement to his health / energy/ wellbeing/knitting skills.

What vitamins do we need and what foods can we get them from?

Your daily intake of food should be made up from Macronutrients and Micronutrients. Macronutrients include carbohydrate, protein and fat; we eat more of these than micronutrients. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals.

The food that we eat becomes part of our body, as it is used to rebuild or repair vital structures continually. The well-known saying “You are what you eat” has a lot of truth in it! But, we don’t digest everything we eat; some of it is excreted or stored as fat so maybe the saying should be

“You are what you eat but don’t excrete!” It has got a ring to it…..

Here is a guide to Macro/ Micro nutrients and minerals for you to use as a guide.

                  Vitamin                                                     Purpose                                        Source
Vitamin A
  • Helps build bones
  • Protects against pollution and degenerative damage
  • Butter from grass fed cows
  • Eggs
  • Liver
  • Seafood
  • Cod liver oil
Vitamin D
  • Needed to absorb calcium and phosphorus
  • Helps form strong bones and teeth




  • Butter from grass fed cows
  • Liver
  • Seafood
  • Cod liver oil
Vitamin E
  • Helps blood circulation
  • Helps tissue repair and healing]Slows aging process
  • Powerful antioxidant


  • Butter
  • Organ meats
  • Whole grains
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Dark green leafy vegetable
Vitamin K
  • Important role in blood clotting
  • Aids none formation


  • Liver
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Whole grains
  • Dark leafy vegetables
Vitamin B complex
  • Aids healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver and muscle tone
  • Prevents fatigue
  • Vital role in metabolism
  • Helps produce healthy cholesterol
  • Helps maintain iron levels in blood
  • Maintains fertility and normal growth
  • Whole unrefined grains
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Raw nuts
  • Legumes
  • Sea foods
  • Organ meats





Vitamin C
  • Aids tissue growth and repair
  • Strengthens capillary walls
  • Supports lactation
  • Forms collagen
  • Helps to heal wounds
  • Powerful antioxidant
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Some organ meats




            Minerals                                                   Purpose                                          Source
  • Bone growth
  • Muscular contraction


  • Dairy products
  • Fish with soft bones – salmon
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Regulates fluid balance
  • Aids protein/carbohydrate digestion


  • Coconut flesh


  • Nerve transmission
  • Bone formation
  • Metabolism of carbohydrates
  • Absorption of other minerals
  • Tooth enamel
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • nuts
  • Bone growth
  • Kidney function
  • Cell growth
  • Animal produce
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Water balance
  • Cellular fluid distribution
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Natural unprocessed sea salt
  • Zucchini
  • Meat broths
  • Protects from infection
  • Helps form cartilage and skin
  • Protects against radiation and pollution
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Cruciferous vegetable e.g cauliflower, brocolli


There are many other minerals on the periodic table that are ingested alongside other foods that we eat but are required in a much smaller quantity, these are referred to as trace minerals.

The key thing to remember is that supplements are only designed to support a healthy balanced diet; they shouldn’t be taken to replace food or allow you to eat an unhealthy diet and think that by popping a pill all will be good.

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