People with a physically active lifestyle need more nutrients than the average non-active person to support muscle recovery and any fitness related goals. Creatine and amino acid supplements can support muscles during short bouts of intense exercise, and aid growth and recovery. Strenuous exercise is also associated with oxidative stress and tissue damage, so athletes require a higher intake of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins C and E.
Several large-scale observational studies show that many people simply don’t achieve nutritional sufficiency through diet alone. This may partly be caused by declining soil quality which means fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t as nutritious as they were 70 years ago. It may also be explained by the increasing reliance on convenient pre-packed meals. A daily multivitamin with the recommended allowance of vitamins and minerals can help to protect against such deficiencies.
Pregnancy and lactation:
The Department of Health advises all women who are considering pregnancy to take a daily 400mcg folic acid supplement to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, and a daily vitamin D 10mcg supplement to support the growing foetus. A multivitamin high in iron, folic acid and vitamin D is also suitable.
Children aged 6 months to 5 years:
The Department of Health also advises all children between the ages of six months to five years to be given a supplement containing vitamins A, C and D. These vitamins are particularly important during the early years, especially if children are fussy eaters.
Over the age of 65: Our nutritional needs change with age. This is partly because the stomach secretes less hydrochloric acid, which impairs the breakdown of food and the absorption of nutrients. As a result, many mature adults need to consume higher quantities of nutrients in order to absorb the same amount. All adults over 65 are advised to take a daily vitamin D 10mcg supplement to maintain bone strength, while calcium, iron, vitamin C, and Coenzyme Q10 are also important.
During and after menopause women require greater intakes of certain nutrients, particularly calcium and vitamin D. This is because the loss of protective oestrogen during this period accelerates bone loss. Some women also find that phytoestrogen supplements such as black cohosh help to relieve common symptoms of menopause, including such as hot flushes, night sweats and irritability.
Regular smokers need high doses of vitamin C in order to maintain a steady body reserve. This antioxidant vitamin is crucial for the neutralization of free radicals molecules produced by chemicals in cigarettes. Vitamin B12 is also important as smokers often have lower vitamin B12 serum levels. However, it’s important to remember that a daily multivitamin certainly doesn’t cancel out a harmful habit. There is some evidence to suggest that smokers should avoid high levels of beta-carotene as it may increase the risk of lung cancer.
If your diet is restricted in any way, you may be missing out on certain nutrients. For example, vegetarians and vegans are often low in B12 as this vitamin is primarily found in meat. Even trends such as paleo or Atkins diet can limit your intake and may be bolstered by a daily multivitamin.
Those with little exposure to natural sunlight:
Vitamin D is a foundation to good health but it is difficult to get sufficient amounts from food alone. Plus, during the winter months, the sun’s rays simply aren’t strong enough in the UK for the skin to synthesise vitamin D. A daily 10mcg supplement can help to ensure that vitamin D levels don’t get too low.