Times of Oman
Dec 01, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 08:15 AM GMT
The vital vitamins
October 22, 2012 | 12:00 AM
There’s no official recommendation for most people, though pregnant and breast-feeding women are advised to take a 10 microgram supplement, as are the elderly. Pic by Agency

Vitamin A
This is needed for healthy skin and vision and supports the immune system. It also acts as an antioxidant, protecting our body's cells from damage.

The recommended intake is 700 micrograms a day for men and 600 micrograms for women. But vitamin A is stored in the body, so if you take too much it can accumulate to dangerous levels and cause liver damage. For this reason you need to check all the sources you could be getting vitamin A from, such as a multi-supplement, cod liver oil (very high in vitamin A) and an antioxidant supplement, as well as your diet if you eat liver, for example.

B vitamins
A group of vitamins that includes B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 and is involved in the release of energy from food, making blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy. These are water soluble and aren't stored in the body. Any excess is flushed out in the form of urine so taking them as part of a multivitamin is not harmful.

Folic acid: Another member of the B vitamin group which is vital for pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy as it reduces the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the baby.

There's also evidence that it might reduce the heart disease risk in the general population. The recommendation is 200 micrograms — double this for women planning a baby and for the first three months of pregnancy. Any excess is flushed out in your urine.

Vitamin C
Vital for a healthy immune system and wound healing, this also helps you to absorb iron from food. However, evidence that it helps prevent colds is inconclusive. The official recommendation is just 60 milligrams but I'd consider this the bare minimum to prevent deficiency and you need more for optimum health. That said, if you eat at least your five a day fruit and vegetables, you should easily get enough. Any excess will be flushed away in your urine.

Vitamin D
This is vital for healthy bones and teeth as it helps the body absorb and use calcium. But I think we're going to be hearing a lot more about this vitamin. Studies suggest that low levels could contribute to a variety of conditions, including cancer and Multiple Sclerosis.
We get most of our vitamin D from a reaction caused by the action of sunlight on the skin but research suggests that many of us aren't getting the optimum exposure due to the pitiful amount of sunshine we get in this country.

There's no official recommendation for most people, though pregnant and breast-feeding women are advised to take a 10 microgram supplement, as are the elderly.
It's certainly worth taking a multivitamin containing vitamin D but don't take to excess. It is stored in the body and can build up to harmful levels.

Vitamin E
It is involved in supporting the immune system and it's so unlikely that you wouldn't get enough from a normal diet that there is not even an official recommendation for it.

Vitamin K
This will help the blood to clot and is needed for healthy bones. The best food sources for providing it are eggs, fish oils, dairy products, green leafy vegetables and asparagus. Vitamin K is also produced naturally by harmless bacteria in our gut. Again it's not a vitamin I'd recommend people taking singly, though it's useful to find in a multi.

Needed to make the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body, and to prevent anaemia. Iron from animal sources (such as lean red meat, oily fish and egg yolks) is much better absorbed than that from vegetarian sources (such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and pulses), though you can enhance absorption by eating your iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich sources such as tomatoes or a glass of orange juice.

Insufficient iron is one of the commoner nutrient deficiencies. Women who have heavy periods may need a supplement but overdoses are dangerous so if you think you may be anaemic you should see your doctor for a blood test. Th

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