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a bottle of vitamins for immune system

What are different vitamins for?

There are a group of vitamins which are vital to the body – known as essential vitamins. The body can’t function properly without them.

The body can’t make essential vitamins by itself, so we must get them through our diet.

However, even with the best intentions, it’s not always possible to get enough of the vitamins we need to keep our body functioning at its very best.

Why do people take vitamins?

Millions of people in the UK take vitamins to supplement their dietary intake and promote optimum health.1

It’s important to remember that there is no replacement for a balanced diet which includes a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, pulses, healthy fats and whole grains. In fact, the word ‘supplement’ means to add to and enhance, rather than to substitute.

You know your body best, so look out for the signs and signals which might indicate you’re low on something.

Dull and dry hair, skin and nails?

Hair, skin and nails are a good indicator of overall health. The best vitamins for skin hair and nails include:

  • B-vitamins - B-vitamins are among the best-known vitamins for hair growth and contribute to the maintenance of normal hair and skin. Riboflavin (also known as vitamin B2) biotin (vitamin B7), folate (vitamin B9), and vitamin B12 are recommended vitamins for hair loss, which has been associated with deficiencies in these vitamins.2

  • Vitamin A – both types of vitamin A (retinoids and carotenoids) are turned into retinol by the liver. Retinol contributes to the maintenance of normal skin which can lead to newer, more nourished skin.

  • Vitamin C - essential for collagen production, which is found in abundance in our hair, skin, nails.

  • Selenium is an antioxidant which helps protect the body’s cells from free radicals and oxidative stress, which can cause weak, dull and lifeless hair, skin and nails.3 Some people take selenium as part of a multivitamin complex with other vitamins to support maintenance of normal hair such as biotin and zinc.

Feeling under the weather?

This may be a sign of a compromised immune system. The top vitamins for immune system function include:

  • Vitamin C contributes towards your immunity and protects against oxidative stress4

  • Vitamin D is also well known to support the normal function of the immune system, with deficiency potentially leaving your body’s natural defences weak5

  • Calcium is an essential mineral with a significant role to play in immunity. The ‘initial trigger in our immune response to healing’, if you find your skin healing slowly then you might need more calcium6

Worn out with no obvious cause?

Are you experiencing unexplained tiredness? These vitamins could help:

  • Iron - there’s a chance you could be low in this essential mineral. If you’re vegan, vegetarian, pregnant or menstruating – the likelihood is higher. Iron carries oxygen to the cells of the body via the haemoglobin in red blood cells and contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue7

  • Vitamin B12 – lack of energy is one of the first signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency. While rare in healthy younger people, this is quite common among older adults, affecting around 1 in 10 people aged 75 or over.8 Vegans should also consider a B12 supplement if they are looking to support energy yielding metabolism

Struggling to lose weight?

Although it’s not as simple as popping vitamins to lose weight, there are some vitamins which could support you on your journey.

  • Vitamin D is probably one of the best vitamins for weight loss. Being deficient in vitamin D has unwanted weight gain as a side-effect, and as millions of people in the UK will become vitamin D deficient during the winter months due to lack of sunlight – a daily 10mcg supplement is a must9

  • Calcium as well as being vital for healthy bones, research suggests that calcium taken with vitamin D might help keep the metabolism stable and control blood sugar, leading to more weight loss during dieting10

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Last updated: 18 June 2020

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