Dr. Phelan By General Practitioner Published:

The general rule for keeping healthy is that we should get the nutrients we need through a balanced diet. However, sometimes that’s not possible, and vitamin supplements are a good way to get what we need.

Here’s some more detail on the vitamins most commonly asked about by my patients.

Vitamin B12 helps to keep nerve and blood cells healthy. People low in B12 can suffer from anaemia, experiencing symptoms of significant fatigue. We can become deficient in B12 for a number of reasons, such as coeliac disease or when following a vegan diet.

Vitamin D has attracted plenty of media attention over the last couple of years, and ensuring you have the right vitamin D levels is highly recommended. This important vitamin is needed for healthy bones and teeth. A lack of vitamin D can lead to a bone problem in children called rickets.

Calcium is another vital ingredient in keeping our bones healthy and it works closely with vitamin D. A lack of calcium in our bodies can lead to osteoporosis. Calcium can be found in a large range of foods, and it’s quite easy to get what we need through a balanced diet.

Iron is a mineral that is essential for healthy blood, with a deficiency of iron leading to anaemia. Many foods contain iron but it can be lost easily through blood loss, something particularly important for women experiencing heavy periods.

My advice is to try and get your nutrients as much as you can through eating a balanced diet. If you feel that you are deficient in a vitamin or are likely to be, then talk to your doctor. Many deficiencies can be tested for and you may be recommended to take a vitamin or mineral supplement or given a prescription for a higher strength supplement in some cases.

If you do choose to buy vitamins and supplements like millions of Brits, make sure they are from a reputable source, always read the label and check that you stick to the recommended dose.