I was foolish enough to venture into a high street health food shop with my sister last week. She wanted to return her purchase of vitamin D as the tablets were 1.5 times the recommended daily supplement, as advised by the specialist advisory committee on nutrition (2016).
A refund was not forthcoming, even though the bottle was sealed. But what alarmed me was the advice of the sales assistant who said that 25 micrograms a day was fine, she took this dose every day. This contradicted what another assistant told my sister previously, which was that 25 micrograms was only needed for people with additional requirements and that for most people 10 micrograms was appropriate.
I did speak out (as if I wouldn’t) as i get alarmed by the volume of misinformation and this includes the attitude that with vitamins and minerals more is better. The message needs to be spread that excessive intakes of all vitamins and minerals can be risky to our health.
Some vitamins cannot be stored in our bodies, so they need to be taken in the right amounts every day. This includes some of the B vitamins, and there is as yet insufficient evidence of the potential harm of high doses. For Vitamin B6, too much can cause loss of feeling in the legs, known as peripheral neuropathy.
Vitamin A is one of the vitamins which are stored in our body fat and taking too much can affect our bones, making fractures more likely, too much vitamin C can cause stomach pain and diarrhoea. And taking too much Vitamin D can cause high calcium levels which can weaken bones, damage the heart and the kidneys.
And on a financial note, taking more of these nutrients than we need is just pouring money down the drain.
So, being sensible about supplements makes sense. If you have a well balanced diet you shouldn’t need additional vitamins and minerals, except Vitamin D as mentioned above.
And no, I don’t think I will darken the doors of the health food shop again, my blood pressure can’t stand it!