Do Vitamin Supplements Work?
Are vitamin supplements worth it?
Let’s be honest with ourselves — who ever really thinks to themselves “Hm, I wonder if I’ve had enough vitamin E today?” Nobody? Me either.
We know that we’re meant to take in enough vitamins and minerals to keep our body happy and healthy, but making sure that we’re doing it is another matter.
It can be tempting to just grab a multivitamin and call it a day, but are they worth it?
How can you tell if your vitamin supplements are doing the job anyway? Let’s take a good look at why you might need a daily dose of vitamins and whether they’re worth your hard-earned cash.
Are vitamin supplements effective?
Vitamin supplements can be effective at treating deficiencies in certain nutrients when you’re not getting enough of them from your diet or lifestyle.
For example, during the winter months, some people may find it difficult to get as much Vitamin D as they would in summer, as sunlight on the skin is one of its best sources.
It can be difficult to get Vitamin D from food, so the NHS recommends that everyone should take a Vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter.
The Department of Health and Social Care recommends certain supplements for some groups of people who are at risk of vitamin deficiency.
Your diet should always be the first place you look to for your vitamin intake, but if you find that you’re struggling to get enough of a certain nutrient, vitamin supplements could help you get back on track.
Do multivitamins work?
Multivitamins are a bit of a tricky subject, as they all contain different vitamins and minerals in different amounts.
This makes it hard to pin down whether they’ll work for you or not, as they don’t target a specific vitamin deficiency.
There is also a risk of taking too much of certain vitamins for too long, which can be harmful, even if you’re taking your multivitamins with the best of intentions.
As ever, we’d recommend asking your doctor or pharmacist for advice that’s tailored to you.
They can help you to assess your lifestyle and nutritional needs and make sure these are met through a balanced diet with food supplements to back up your intake if you need them.
For example, they may recommend a Vitamin D supplement with added calcium, as Vitamin D helps to regulate your calcium levels.
If you’re not getting enough calcium from your diet, a combination of Vitamin D and calcium could be just what you need to increase your intake as you work on dietary changes.
Are gummy vitamins as effective as vitamin tablets?
Gummy vitamins aren’t just for kids anymore!
Love them or hate them you can’t deny that the Kardashians put SugarBearHair vitamin gummies on the map and lots of similar products have since stepped up to the plate.
Their appeal doesn’t take much explaining, a whole lot of vitamins packed into a tasty gummy that feels more like a sweet than a daily multivitamin, but how do they measure up against more traditional tablets and capsules?
If you’re a fan of gummy vitamins, you’ll be glad to know that they can provide just as much nutrition as any other vitamin supplement.
Some studies have even shown that gummy vitamins can provide higher bioavailability of Vitamin D in some cases, meaning that your body will get more of the nutrient to work with once it’s broken down.
If you’re unsure about how much of a particular vitamin or mineral your gummy will provide, take a good look at the nutritional values table on their packaging.
These tables are on every food supplement sold in the UK and they’re a simple way to compare what’s included in each product before you make your choice.
However, gummy vitamins aren’t without their downsides.
These vitamin supplements can contain added sugars, sweeteners, or flavourings — their added yumminess has to come from somewhere after all.
If you’re concerned about your sugar intake or your kids’ dental health you might want to consider sticking to tablets or capsules after all, as they’ll naturally contain less sugar.
Another thing to think about is the price of gummy vitamins, as they can be much more expensive than tablets which provide the same nutritional value.
For example, at the time of writing these Healthspan Vitamin D3 25μg Gummies cost £4.99 for a pack of 30, working out at over 16p per gummy.
On the other hand, these Valupak Vitamin D3 25μg tablets cost 1.49 for a pack of 60 - just over 2p a tablet for the same amount of Vitamin D.
Whether the payoff is worth it is completely up to you and your bank balance.
Do we need vitamin supplements?
Technically speaking no, you usually don’t need vitamin supplements as long as you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet.
You should be able to get all of the nutrients you need from your food alone.
However, we understand that this can be more difficult for some people than it is for others and there are some medical reasons why you may need to take more of a certain vitamin at certain times.
For example, if you’re trying to get pregnant or are in the early stages of pregnancy it’s usually recommended that you take a Folic Acid supplement to help support your baby’s spinal development.
Some people like to take a daily multivitamin just to make sure that they’re getting the nutrients they need every day — at least if you overindulge on chicken nuggets on cheat day you’ll know that your body has still seen some vitamins.
How do I know which vitamins I need?
There are lots of different reasons why you may need specific vitamins, the pregnancy example I just mentioned being one of many, so you’ll need to take your circumstances into account.
You may want to start by looking at your regular diet and seeing if there are any foods you’re not eating enough of.
You can then take a food supplement to give your body the vitamins these missing foods would provide as you tweak your diet to include them.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian you will often find that you’re missing out on calcium, iron, Vitamin A and B Vitamins, which are often found in meat and dairy products, so a multivitamin that contains all these nutrients could help to fill in the gaps.
If you choose to take effervescent or dissolvable vitamins then there's something else you'll need to watch for too — your salt intake.
Each effervescent supplement tablet can contain up to 1g of salt, so if you're trying to reduce your salt intake, you'll need to be wary of this one.
Remember, food supplements are not designed to be a replacement for a healthy or balanced diet, so don’t just take a multivitamin and call it a day.
Keep an eye on your diet and change things up if you notice that you’re not getting enough of a certain nutrient.
Food supplements are a nice backup, but your diet should take centre stage when it comes to your nutritional needs.
Which vitamin supplements work?
Vitamins and minerals all play a different role in helping your body to work at its best and you need a healthy balance of all of them to keep yourself in tip-top shape.
Some people find that when they’re not getting enough of a certain vitamin they can see a difference in their hair, skin, and other areas.
Let’s take a look at which vitamins work to support some of the most important parts of your body.
Which vitamin is good for your skin?
Your skin is a much more complex organ than you might realise, so lots of vitamins go into keeping it working and looking its best.
Some of the most popular vitamins that work to keep your skin healthy include:
- Vitamin A (Retinol)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Which vitamins the boost immune system?
Your immune system is supported by a wide range of vitamins which all work in different ways.
You’ve probably heard that Vitamin C is the one to reach for during cold and flu season, this is because it helps to protect your cells as well as promoting wound healing.
A mineral called selenium also works similarly, kind of like Vitamin C’s wingman when it comes to your immune health.
Other vitamins that support your immune system include Vitamin A and Vitamin E, which are both thought to strengthen your immune system, helping to keep your defences strong when there’s a bug going around the office.
Which vitamin is good for your eyes?
Healthy eyes and clear vision are super important, so it’s no surprise that people are on the lookout for vitamins that support ocular health.
Two of the major players are vitamin B2 (or riboflavin) and vitamin E, which are both known to support healthy eyes.
Vitamin A is also linked to your ability to see in the dark, so if you’re sick of stumbling around when you go to the loo at night, you might want to stock up on foods that are high in this nutrient.
Which vitamin is good for hair?
Several vitamins and minerals are thought to be good for your hair, but there’s little evidence to suggest that there’s a direct link between vitamins and hair growth.
For example, biotin (also known as Vitamin B7) is thought to support your hair because it helps your body to make fatty acids, which in turn help with the production of keratin.
As keratin is one of the main components of hair, some believe that biotin plays a part in keeping their hair healthy.
Some people also believe that Vitamin C and zinc can support healthy hair and this one does have a little truth to it.
Vitamin C and zinc both support healthy cell reproduction and help to protect your cells in general, naturally, this extends to your hair.
If you’re having trouble with your hair thinning or you’re seeing bald spots, we’d recommend speaking to your doctor or pharmacist and asking for their advice.
They can check for conditions like alopecia and male or female pattern baldness and assess whether a hair loss treatment could be right for you.
How long do vitamin supplements take to work?
Honestly, it’s hard to tell how long it takes vitamins to work.
Vitamin supplements aren’t like medications, they aren't designed to work immediately and have a specific effect, so it can be difficult to tell whether they are ‘working’ or not.
The point of taking a vitamin supplement is to make sure that your body is getting enough of the nutrients it needs to function at its best, and just because you don’t notice your hair looking shinier than a shampoo ad within 24-hours it doesn’t mean that need isn’t being met.
After all, you can’t expect your hair to glow up in a day!
You need a wide range of vitamins and minerals every day to ensure that your body has everything it needs to be at the top of its game, and eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to make that happen and keep it happening long term.
It’s like going to the gym, the results will build up slowly over time, you can’t expect to make massive gains after taking a single multivitamin one morning!
By now, you’ve probably decided whether you think vitamin supplements are worth it — you might even be considering picking some up for yourself.
Why not check out our other guides about vitamins and supplements?
They’re full of interesting information about the different types of vitamins and whether they could be the right choice for you.
We’re also taking a look at some of your most frequently asked questions, like whether or not vitamins can help with weight loss and which vitamins can fit in with a halal diet.
No matter where you stand with vitamin supplements, we’re here to help you make good choices about your nutrition no matter what life throws your way.