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Three supplements you should consider

Practically everything comes in pill form these days, but which ones are actually important? Prudence Wade asks a doctor for her key tips

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Supplements: a range of pills

Supplements: a range of pills

Supplements: a range of pills

We're given so much - often conflicting - advice on how to live healthily, that it can easily get overwhelming. Are carbs actually the devil? And what about supplements?

With so many options out there, it can be hard to know which vitamins and minerals are actually worth your time.

We asked Dr Faiza Khalid, a GP at MedicSpot.co.uk, for her take on the matter. Of course, nutritional needs aren't always 'one-size-fits-all' and if you're concerned about ongoing symptoms or deficiencies, it's best to check in with your doctor.

Here are three supplements Dr Khalid says could be useful to certain people - but bear in mind that these aren't a replacement for a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet.

1. Vitamin D

"Out of all of the vitamin supplements, vitamin D is the one that most people living in the UK should consider taking," says Dr Khalid.

"Vitamin D helps with absorbing calcium and phosphate from our diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones, teeth, muscles and all our body systems.

"While exposure to natural sunlight provides most people in the UK with all the vitamin D they need from late March to early September, this is not the case during the winter months."

From October to early March, your vitamin D levels will drop because the sunlight doesn't contain enough UVB radiation for your body to produce the much-needed vitamin. While vitamin D can be found in foods like oily fish, red meat and eggs, Dr Khalid points out: "It is difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone. Everyone - including pregnant and breastfeeding women - should consider taking a vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months."

In fact, Public Health England advises taking a daily 10mcg vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months.

Don't be tempted to 'boost' your levels by taking far more than is recommended, however.

"Taking more vitamin D than is required for a long period of time might lead to hypercalcaemia, a build-up of calcium in the body which can weaken your bones and damage your heart and kidneys," Dr Khalid notes.

2. Vitamin B12

Unlike vitamin D, this one isn't as widely recommended. Instead, the group Dr Khalid thinks may need to consider taking vitamin B12 supplements are vegans.

"This is because vegans are at a higher risk of developing a deficiency, as they do not eat foods such as meat, fish and dairy products which provide enough vitamin B12 for most people," she explains. Vitamin B12 is vital for helping to make red blood cells, as well as supporting the nervous system.

3. Iron

According to the British Nutrition Foundation, iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. It's an important mineral because it makes up part of haemoglobin - the substance found in red blood cells which helps transport oxygen around your body.

There's no doubt it's crucial to health - but not everyone should rush into buying supplements. However, some people may be more at risk of developing low levels, or iron-deficiency anaemia.

"Young women with heavy periods may wish to consider taking an iron supplement because they are at a higher risk of iron-deficiency anaemia," Khalid advises.

"This causes tiredness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and pale skin. If you believe you may have an iron deficiency, you should see a GP first, who will be able to do a simple blood test to determine if you are anaemic."

If there's no chance you could be anaemic, it's easy to maintain healthy iron levels through your diet. There is a varied range of foods rich in the mineral - good sources include anything from red meat, to pumpkin seeds and spinach.

And the one you really shouldn't bother with...

According to MedicSpot GP Dr Abby Hyams, that'll be beta-carotene supplements.

"You should be able to get enough beta-carotene from the foods you eat. Beta-carotene is found in yellow and green vegetables and yellow fruit," she explains.

Belfast Telegraph