‘No beneficial effects of supplements’ says BNF

Christmas Day has passed and with it the epicentre of the festive food cyclone of high fat and high salt. As we enter a new year, attention will now turn to how to burn off that excess and regain any fitness lost. Some may be tempted to boost their fitness and body using supplements, but the British Nutrition Foundation warns that this may not be the best option.

Speaking to the Express, one of their nutrition scientists, Helena Gibson-Moore, said: “It is important to remember that supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy diet.

“Eating a balanced and varied diet should provide sufficient amounts of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are needed for good health, as well as important dietary components such as fibre and natural bioactive compounds (such as polyphenols), with the exception of vitamin D.

“A healthy, balanced diet typically contains plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, dairy or dairy alternatives foods, beans and pulses, and other protein foods like fish, lean meat, eggs, nuts and seeds, and small amounts of unsaturated oils like vegetable or olive oil.”

However, Helena said there were some caveats for those who follow a vegan diet.

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She said: “If you follow a vegan diet there are some nutrients that are more difficult to get, so the NHS recommends that you include fortified foods or supplements containing nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine, selenium, calcium and iron.”

Helena also cautioned on the use of supplements: “Several reviews and meta-analyses (where data from a number of studies are analysed together) have generally shown there to be no beneficial effects of vitamin and mineral supplements for reducing the risk of chronic diseases (such as cancer and cardiovascular disease).

“In some cases, the use of high dose supplements (such as beta-carotene) has been shown to have adverse effects on disease risk.”

Despite this, supplements are not without some benefits.


About vitamin D, Helena added there were some specific recommendations for use of the vitamin: “Adults and children aged 5 years and above should take (or should be given) a daily 10 microgram (µg) vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months

“Babies from birth to 1 year should be given a daily supplement with 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D throughout the year (unless they are consuming more than 500ml of infant formula per day), and children aged 1 to 4 years should be given a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement all year round.

“The government recommends that people who are not able to go outside often, or who cover their skin while outside, should take a daily 10 microgram (µg) vitamin D supplement all year round.

“People with dark skin, including those from and African, African-Caribbean or South Asian background, should consider take a daily 10 microgram (µg) vitamin D supplement all year round.”

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